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There are several unanswerable questions in the craft beer world. We have tried our hand at a couple already so here we go again. Pale Ale and IPA: What’s the difference? 

The definitions of Pale Ale and Indian Pale Ale (IPA) have become vaguer, with both now having numerous cousins like West Coast, New England IPA (NEIPA)New Zealand (NZPA) or American pale ales (APA). 

For simplicity, we will be discussing the simple, unadulterated versions of both Pale Ale and IPA without bogging ourselves down with the many iterations’ brewers have created by pushing the styles.

We believe it important to precisely define the style of what we want to brew before developing our recipes. Based on the collective experience of our team from judging beer competitions and careers worth of drinking with other like-minded individuals, we differentiated the two styles by looking at the following characteristics: malt, hops, mouthfeel, alcohol strength and drinkability. 

Hops Moonwake Beer Pale Ale IPA

Malt 

Pale ales are maltier, with a more balanced hop to malt ratio, leading to a beer with more backbone and a sweeter finish. For this reason, we are brewing our Pale Ale with neat Marris Otter. 

Hops 

IPAs are more hop forward, with a bitter bite. Using hops with a high alpha acid content, and a lot of them creates the bitternessThey are also often packed with strong citrus flavours. 

Mouthfeel 

IPAs have a drier finish while pale ales due to their malt to hop ratio will have more body. 

Alcohol by volume (ABV)

IPAs are stronger. In our case 4.2% abv vs 5.0% abv

Sessionability

The balance and lower ABV lead to Pale Ales being more of a session beer whereas IPAs are packed with flavour and attitude for everyone who cares less about malt and enjoys a hoppy kick. 

These are the ways we have defined our Pale Ale and IPA. However, they are both styles we wanted for our core range to showcase ourselves as brewery. We wanted to keep it simple and do it well for our core range – precision brewed with mindful intent on modern kit. 

Pale Ale

Smooth  Berries  Mango  4.5% ABV

Specifically brewed for your easy enjoyment. Added oats give our Pale Ale a smooth mouthfeel alongside tropical flavours of mango lychee and berries.

IPA

Citrus  Pine  Bitter-Sweet  5% ABV

Packed full of citrus and pine flavours from Southern Cross and Chinook. Rounded off with German Malts and dextrin for hoppy bitter-sweet punch.

Next time you are drinking each style have a think about why the brewer has called it one and not the other, and do you agree?

After all sometimes it is named a certain style purely for marketing reasons, but that is another musing for our brewers someday. 

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