American IPA in a Spiegelau IPA Glass

Overview for the American IPA Beer Style

The American IPA is the most popular craft beer style in the United States. And for good reason, too. When well crafted, its hoppy goodness delivers intense aromas and flavors that can be citrusy and fruity; floral and piney; earthy and herbal. The hops are complemented by a wide range of malts and other ingredients. It’s a popular playground for brewers to express their creativity and a veritable cornucopia for craft beer connoisseurs.

Style Expectations

The American IPA is a decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Appearance

Color ranges from medium gold to light reddish-amber. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Medium-sized, white to off-white head with good persistence.

Aroma

A prominent to intense hop aroma featuring one or more characteristics of American or New World hops, such as citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, etc. Many versions are dry hopped and can have an additional fresh hop aroma; this is desirable but not required. Grassiness should be minimal, if present. A low to medium-low clean, grainy-malty aroma may be found in the background. Fruitiness from yeast may also be detected in some versions, although a neutral fermentation character is also acceptable. A restrained alcohol note may be present, but this character should be minimal at best. Any American or New World hop character is acceptable; new hop varieties continue to be released and should not constrain this style.

Flavor

Hop flavor is medium to very high, and should reflect an American or New World hop character, such as citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, etc. Medium-high to very high hop bitterness. Malt flavor should be low to medium-low, and is generally clean and grainy-malty although some light caramel or toasty flavors are acceptable. Low yeast-derived fruitiness is acceptable but not required. Dry to medium-dry finish; residual sweetness should be low to none. The bitterness and hop flavor may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. A very light, clean alcohol flavor may be noted in stronger versions. May be slightly sulfury, but most examples do not exhibit this character.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body, with a smooth texture. Medium to medium-high carbonation. No harsh hop-derived astringency. Very light, smooth alcohol warming not a fault if it does not intrude into overall balance.

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