Exploring the Differences Between IPA and Imperial IPA

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When it comes to craft beer, IPA vs. imperial IPA is a debate that has been going on for years. It’s important to understand the history of both beers, their brewing process and ingredients used, and how they differ in taste, color, alcohol content and calories.

Whether you’re looking for an IPA or Imperial IPA experience, plenty of popular options are available, but what makes them different?

This blog post will explore the differences between IPAs and Imperial IPAs, so you can decide which one best suits your tastes!

Table of Contents:

History of IPA and Imperial IPA

The history of IPA and Imperial IPA is interesting, with both styles having their unique origins and development.

Origin of IPA: India Pale Ale (IPA) was first brewed in England in the late 1700s. It was created as a stronger version of pale ale to survive the long voyage from England to India during the British colonization.

The beer was heavily hopped to help preserve it on its journey, resulting in a more bitter flavor than traditional pale ales.

Development of Imperial IPA: Imperial IPAs were later developed as an even stronger version of regular IPAs. They are higher in alcohol content and hop bitterness than regular IPAs, making them bolder and more intense flavors.

IPAs and Imperial IPAs have been popular over time, with craft breweries producing new versions worldwide.

Regular IPAs are now widely available at bars, restaurants, stores, and other establishments. At the same time, imperial versions can be found at specialty shops or online retailers specializing in craft beer offerings.

IPA and Imperial IPA are two distinct styles of beer that have evolved. Both styles have become popular for their unique flavor profiles, but the brewing process for each style is different.

This article will look at the differences between these two types of beer and how they are brewed.

Brewing Process for IPA and Imperial IPA

serving imperial ipa

Brewing Process for IPA and Imperial IPA is a complex process that requires careful consideration of ingredients, fermentation times, and aging processes.

IPA vs Imperial IPA: Ingredients Used in Each Style

The main difference between an IPA and an Imperial IPA lies in the number of hops used. IPAs use more hops than traditional ales, while Imperial IPAs use even more hops than regular IPAs.

Additionally, malt varieties are different between the two styles; IPAs typically use pale malts such as Maris Otter or Vienna Malt. Whereas Imperial IPAs may include specialty grains like Caramel or Crystal Malts to add complexity to the beer’s flavor profile.

IPA and Imperial IPA Brewing Process

In terms of the brewing process, both styles require similar steps, including mashing (where hot water is added to crushed grain), boiling (which helps extract sugars from the grain), cooling (to reduce bacteria growth), and fermentation (where yeast converts sugar into alcohol).

However, due to their higher hop content, both styles require longer boil times than other beers – up to 90 minutes for some recipes.

Aging and Fermentation Times: After boiling, the wort must be cooled before adding yeast which begins fermentation. It can take anywhere from one week for an IPA up to three weeks for an Imperial IPA, depending on desired ABV levels.

Once primary fermentation has been completed, it’s time for aging, where flavors mellow out over time, with some brewers allowing their beers to age upwards of six months before bottling/kegging them.

There are many differences between brewing an IPA and an Imperial IPA. Understanding these nuances allows one to create delicious beers that will please any palate.

The brewing process for IPA and Imperial IPA may vary slightly in terms of ingredients, fermentation times, and aging periods. However, the differences between these two styles are more noticeable regarding their taste profiles, colors, alcohol content levels, and calorie counts – all of which we’ll explore in the next section.

Key Takeaway: IPAs use more hops than traditional ales, while Imperial IPAs use even more hops; malt varieties also differ between the two styles. For some recipes, boil times can be up to 90 minutes, with primary fermentation taking anywhere from one week (IPA) to three weeks (Imperial IPA). Aging can take upwards of six months before bottling kegging.

Taste, Color, Alcohol Content, and Calories of IPA and Imperial IPA

colour difference between ipa and imperial ipa

IPA vs Imperial IPA: Taste Profiles

IPAs are known for their hoppy, bitter flavor and aroma. They often have a citrusy or floral character as well.

Imperial IPAs are much more intense in hop bitterness and flavor but tend to be maltier than regular IPAs. The higher alcohol content gives them a slightly sweet finish that balances out the hops.

Color Comparison Between IPA and Imperial IPA

Regular IPAs typically range from light golden to amber in color, while Imperial IPAs can be darker due to the different malts used during brewing.

Some Imperials may even appear dark brown or black depending on how long they have aged and the type of malts used.

IPA vs Imperial IPA: Alcohol and Calorie Content Differences

The alcohol content is one of the main differences between an IPA and an Imperial IPA.

Most regular IPAs will have an ABV (alcohol by volume) ranging from 4-7%, while Imperials usually range from 8-12%. It means you’ll get a bigger buzz with an Imperial IPA than a regular one.

Calorie counts vary widely between different types of beers, but generally speaking; regular IPAs tend to have fewer calories than their imperial counterparts due to their lower alcohol content levels.

A 12 oz bottle of a typical American IPA will contain around 180 calories, whereas an imperial could contain up to 300 calories per bottle.

The comparison between IPA and Imperial IPA reveals distinct differences in taste, color, alcohol content, and calories. The next heading will look at some popular examples of each style worldwide.

Popular IPAs Around the World

IPA stands for India Pale Ale and is a style of beer that originated in England during the 18th century. It has since become one of the most popular styles of beer around the world, with many breweries creating their unique takes on this classic style.

Some popular examples include Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA, Lagunitas Brewing Company’s IPA, and Stone Brewing Co.’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. Strong hop flavors and aromas and higher alcohol content than other beers characterize all three.

Popular Imperial IPAs Around the World

Examples of popular Imperial IPAs worldwide include Dogfish Head Brewery’s 90 Minute IPA, Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA, and Great Divide Brewing Company’s Hercules Double IPA.

These beers can be quite intense due to their high bitterness levels but also offer complex flavor profiles that make them enjoyable to drink despite their strength.

FAQs in Relation to Ipa vs Imperial Ipa

What makes an IPA an Imperial IPA?

An Imperial IPA, also known as a Double IPA, is an intense leap and higher alcohol version of the India Pale Ale. It typically has an ABV (alcohol by volume) between 7-10%, significantly higher than a standard IPA’s 5-7%.

The hops used in Imperial IPAs are usually more intense and flavorful than regular IPAs. Resulting in a bolder taste with notes of citrus, pine, tropical fruit, or floral aromas. Additionally, Imperial IPAs often have a sweeter malt profile to balance the bitterness from the hops.

What makes an Imperial IPA Imperial?

An Imperial IPA, also known as a Double IPA, is an intense hop beer that has a higher alcohol content than the average India Pale Ale. It typically contains more malt and hops than other IPAs, resulting in a fuller body and bolder flavor profile. The hop character of an Imperial IPA can range from floral to citrusy to piney, depending on the type of hops used.

The ABV (alcohol by volume) for these beers usually ranges between 7-10%, making them significantly stronger than their traditional counterparts. Imperial IPAs are the perfect choice for hop lovers looking to take their beer experience to the next level.

Is an imperial ale an IPA?

No, an imperial ale is not an IPA. An Imperial Ale is a beer with higher alcohol content and more intense flavors than traditional ales.

It typically has a stronger malt character and can be darker in color than IPAs. The hop profile of an Imperial Ale is also different from that of an IPA, with the hops providing more bitterness rather than aroma or flavor as they do in IPAs.

What does Imperial mean in beer?

Imperial beer is a term cast-off to describe beers with higher alcohol content and flavor than traditional styles. Imperial beers typically have an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 8% or more, with some reaching as high as 20%.

They often feature bolder flavors such as dark fruits, chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Imperial beers can be brew using any grain but usually include additional hops for increased bitterness and aroma. The term “Imperial” was originally cast-off to describe strong Russian stouts during the 19th century.

Today it has become a generic term for any full-bodied beer with an elevated ABV level.


Both IPAs and Imperial IPAs have a long history in brewing, but their brewing processes differ significantly. The taste, color, alcohol content, and calorie content of these two types of beer also vary greatly.

Ultimately though, when it comes down to IPA vs. imperial IPA, it’s up to you which one you prefer!

Do you want the perfect beer? Do you want to explore different IPAs and Imperial IPAs? Learn about home brewing equipment, or join a fun beer subscription service? Then look no further! Brew Publik provides all these solutions with detailed blog posts on reviews, tips, and tricks from industry experts.

Also See: Exploring the Differences Between Bock and Stout Beers