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 India 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.
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.
IPAs are more hop forward, with a bitter bite. Using hops with a high alpha acid content, and a lot of them creates the bitterness. They are also often packed with strong citrus flavours.
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
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.
Smooth Berries Mango 4.2% ABV
Moonwake Pale Ale balances drinkability and hop character to create a sessionable Pale Ale. Maris Otter barley and oats give a smooth mouthfeel and golden body. Azacca and Mosaic hops in the whirlpool are complemented by dry-hopping with Citra to deliver an array of tropical flavours, such as mango, lychee and berries.
£3.40£3.40Add to basket
Citrus Pine Bitter-Sweet 5.0% ABV
Moonwake IPA is inspired by the West Coast IPA and brewed with hops grown around the Pacific. Pithy flavours of pine-resin, orange and grapefruit courtesy of Chinook, Mosaic and Southern Cross hops. All balanced with German malts and Dextrin for a bitter-sweet finish with a hint of malty biscuits. A timeless and classic IPA.
£3.45£3.45Add to basket
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.