Pale Ale Vs IPA: Is There Really A Difference?

IPAs are known for their hoppy flavor, but pale ales are often overlooked. Is there a real difference between these two beers or are they simply marketing terms?

Pale Ale Vs IPA: Is There Really A Difference?

IPAs are generally stronger than pale ales. They tend to be higher in alcohol and bitterness, and contain more hops. Pale ales are typically lighter bodied and less bitter.

There is no doubt that IPAs are better than pale ales.

The taste of both is very similar, but the differences are clear. IPAs are usually much stronger than pale ales, and they also have a greater hop presence.

While it’s true that IPAs are stronger than pale ales on average, not all IPAs are as strong as you might think. Some are actually quite light-bodied and low in alcohol.

This means that some pale ales can pack a punch.

If you want to know which beer is best, go with your favorite brand. If you like one style over another, then drink what you prefer.

But if you really want to know which one is better, read our article below.

What Is Pale Ale?

A pale ale is an English-style beer made up of malted barley, yeast, water, and hops. It has a lower alcohol content than other styles of beer.

In fact, most pale ales are around 5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Although this may seem weak, it is still considered a full-strength beer.

The word “pale” comes from the color of the beer. When the malt grains are roasted, they turn into a darker brown color.

To counteract this, brewers add extra crystal malt to make the beer look paler.

The name “ale” refers to the fermentation process.

During brewing, the wort is boiled and cooled down. Then it is transferred to a fermenting vessel where yeast is added to start the fermentation process.

What Is IPA?

An India pale ale (or just IPA) is a type of beer brewed using American hops.

These hops give off a citrus aroma and flavor. Hops are used because they impart a lot of flavor without adding too much bitterness.

Hops are grown in America, so they are available year round. That makes them perfect for brewing beer during the winter months when fresh ingredients aren’t readily available.

Hops are also used to preserve the beer after it’s been fermented. They keep the beer fresher longer.

This allows breweries to ship their product across the country. For example, many craft breweries will ship their products to New York City before shipping it out to California.

Why Do People Drink Both Beer Styles?

People love different types of beer for various reasons. Sometimes people enjoy drinking a particular style of beer because they grew up with it.

Other times, people choose certain beers because they like the way they feel while drinking them.

For instance, some people say that IPAs are energizing. Others claim that pale ales are relaxing. So why do people drink both? Because they don’t always agree!

Which Style Should You Choose?

It depends on what you like. If you like IPAs, then you should probably stick with that style.

However, if you like pale ales more, then there’s nothing wrong with enjoying those either.

It’s important to remember that these two beer styles have very similar characteristics. The main difference between them is how they were originally brewed.

Pale Ale Vs IPA

When making a pale ale, brewers use fewer hops than they would for an IPA. The result is a lighter bodied beer with a higher level of sweetness.

When making an IPA, brewers use lots of hops. This results in a stronger bitter taste. It can be quite dry as well.

Is Ale The Same As Beer?

No, they are not the same thing. Beer is usually made with barley, yeast, and water. Ale is usually made with barley and hops.

However, there are exceptions. Some brands of beer include wheat or corn in their recipe.
In addition, some beers are actually referred to as ales. Examples include Guinness and Bass.

This is especially common in certain countries such as England.

What Are Hops?

Hops are flowers that grow on vines. They contain oils that help protect the plant from insects. In fact, hops have been used since ancient times to prevent bugs from eating crops.

They are also used to preserve food. Brewers often add hops to their brews to make sure that the beer doesn’t go bad.

How Does Hop Flavor Affect Beer?

The flavors of hops come from essential oils found within the flower. When hops are added to the boil, they release their oils into the liquid.

These oils then mix with other ingredients in the beer. They create a unique flavor.

The amount of hop oil in your beer is determined by the variety of hops used. Different varieties of hops produce different levels of aroma and bitterness.

Some popular varieties of hops include Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Amarillo. These are just a few examples.

There are hundreds of different kinds of hops. Each one has its own distinct flavor profile.

So Which One Is Better?

If you ask us, we think that the answer is clear. An IPA is better than a pale ale. Why?

Foremost, you get more bang for your buck when buying an IPA. Since they contain more hops, they pack a bigger punch.

Secondly, IPAs tend to be smoother and easier to drink than pale ales. Pale ales often have a sharp bitterness that can leave a bad aftertaste.

Finally, IPAs are usually cheaper than pale ales. So if you want to save money, go for an IPA instead.

However, if you really prefer pale ales, you can still find them at most bars and restaurants. Most places will offer one or the other.

Which Ale Came First?

Pale ale is a light-colored beer made with malted barley. Pale Ales were originally brewed by English brewers who used malt that had been roasted using a fuel that had a higher carbon content and lower smoke yield.

Pale Ales were then called “bitters” because of their stronger hop flavor. Pale Ales were often served cold. Today, many American breweries produce pale ales.

What About IPA?

IPAs were created as a new style of beer. In fact, the first commercial batch was produced in India in 1984.

The name comes from the Indian word “India Pale Ale” which means “Indian Packed Ale”. In 1985, the first commercially brewed IPA was released in America.

In 1986, the first commercial brewery opened in the United States.

That year, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company introduced its flagship IPA, “American Stout.” This is one of the most popular kinds of IPA.

Can I Mix Them Together?

Yes, you can mix them together. However, it is not recommended.

What happens is that the hops in the IPA overpower the malt in the Pale Ale. As a result, the Pale Ale becomes too bitter.

How Can I Tell The Difference Between Them?

You can tell the difference by looking at the color. When you look at an IPA, you’ll notice that it has a darker amber color.

Pale Ale Vs IPA

The reason for this is that they use more hops. As mentioned earlier, IPAs have more hops than pale ales.

The second thing you need to pay attention to is the smell. IPAs have a strong hop scent. On the other hand, pale ales are not nearly as pungent.

Lastly, you can check the alcohol content. IPAs typically have a higher level of alcohol than pale ales. This means that they are stronger.

What Are Some Good Beers To Try?

Here are a few good examples of each type of beer. These beers are all available in stores near you.

  • IPA: Goose Island Honker’s Ale
  • Pale Ale: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • IPA: Stone IPA
  • Pale Ale: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • IPA: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Pale Ale : Guinness Extra Stout
  • IPA: Lagunitas IPA
  • Pale Ale; Sam Adam’s Red Racer
  • IPA: Bell’s Two Hearted
  • Pale Ale: Guinness Porter

How Is Pale Ale Made?

To make a pale ale, brewers start with barley malt. They add water and yeast to the mix. Then, they let the mixture ferment until it turns into beer.

Once the fermentation process is complete, they take out the spent grains and filter out any remaining bits of grain. After that, they bottle or keg the beer to serve.

How Is IPA Made?

To create an IPA, brewers first mash their barley malt. Next, they boil the wort (the liquid left over from mashing) for about 30 minutes.

After boiling, they cool down the wort and pitch the yeast. Once the yeast starts working its magic, they let the mixture sit for about 48 hours.

Next, they transfer the wort to a vessel called a kettle. Here, they add some extra hops to the wort.

They then heat up the wort and boil it for another 45 minutes. At this point, they remove the hops and add some more.

They repeat these steps until the wort reaches the desired strength. Finally, they transfer the worts to a vessel called a lagering tank.

This is where the magic happens. Here, they let the wort sit for several weeks. During this time, the yeast continues to work on converting the sugars into alcohol.

When the lagering process is finished, they move the beer to a barrel. This is where the beer gets aged. It takes anywhere from six months to two years to age the beer properly.

At this point, they bottle or keg the beer.

Are There Any Other Differences?

Yes! IPAs are often served colder than pale ales. However, there is no rule stating that you must drink your beer cold.

Pale Ale Vs IPA Is There Really A Difference

If you want to enjoy your IPA while drinking it hot, just remember to pour it slowly. Pour too fast, and you might end up burning yourself.

Also, IPAs tend to be much spicier than pale ales. If you like spicy food, try ordering something with a lot of peppers when you go out for a pint.

Finally, IPAs usually come in tall bottles. This makes them easier to hold and consume.

Which One Should I Drink?

It depends on what you prefer. You can always ask your bartender for help.

However, if you do decide to order one of each, try to stick to a style. For example, don’t get both an IPA and a porter at once.

You’ll probably find that one is better suited for certain occasions than the other. So, choose wisely.

What Are The Different Types Of Beer?

There are many types of beer. Each type has its own unique taste. Some people even say that they have a favorite kind of beer.

The most popular types include:

  • Pilsner
  • Lager
  • Stout
  • Wheat Beer
  • Amber Ale
  • Brown Ale
  • Porter
  • India Pale Ale
  • Kölsch
  • Belgian-Style Ale

Can I Make Pale Ale?

Of course, you can! All you need is a basic recipe. Follow the instructions carefully, and you should be able to turn out a tasty brew.

Check out our article on how to make pale ale.

We’ve included the full recipe right below.


  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 pounds light dry malt extract
  • 1 pound crystal malt
  • 4 ounces Munich malt
  • 1 ounce chocolate malt
  • 8 ounces Carapils malt
  • 6 ounces wheat malt
  • 0.5 oz Cascade hop pellets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Irish moss
  • 1 packet Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast
  • 1/4 cup corn sugar


  • Bring water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add all ingredients except the yeast.
  • Let the mixture steep overnight.
  • Transfer the liquid to a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 60 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and cool down completely.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment for 5 days.
  • Bottle or keg as usual.
  • Enjoy!

How Do I Know What Kind Of Beer To Order?

That’s easy. Ask your server. They will know exactly which beers are available on tap. Or, you could look through their menu.

Some places may offer more than one type of beer. So, you might not have to worry about choosing between styles. But, if you’re looking for a specific beer, you can always ask for it by name.

Or, you can always ask your server for advice. They are usually happy to help.

Is IPA From India?

No. It’s actually made in England. But, it was originally created in India.

How Long Can I Keep Beer In The Fridge?

If you plan on keeping your beer cold, then you can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
After that, it starts to lose some of its flavor. So, drink it sooner rather than later.

How Much Alcohol Is In Beer?

Alcohol content varies depending on the type of beer.

A typical bottle of beer contains around 3% alcohol. That means that it contains roughly 30 calories per 12 oz serving.

A typical glass of wine contains around 14%. This means that it contains around 140 calories per 12 oz serving

How Many Calories Are In Beer?

Beer comes in various sizes and shapes. And, these factors determine how many calories you get.

For example, a 12 oz tall boy (or pilsner) typically contains around 150 calories.

On the other hand, a 16 oz pint of Guinness contains around 200 calories.

So, if you’re trying to cut back on your calorie intake, you might want to skip the big bottles.

What Happens If I Drink Too Much Beer?

You’ll probably feel pretty good after drinking just a few drinks.

However, if you start feeling sick or dizzy, then you should stop drinking.

Also, don’t drive while intoxicated. You could end up hurting yourself or someone else.

Can I Get Fat Drinking Beer?

Yes, but only if you eat lots of junk food at the same time.

The carbohydrates found in beer are broken down into simple sugars. These sugars are absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

And, they cause an increase in blood glucose levels.

When this happens, insulin is released. Insulin helps regulate fat metabolism. So, when you drink beer, you also eat more carbs.

In fact, studies show that people who drink sugary beverages like soda tend to gain weight.

What Kinds Of Ale Are There?

There are hundreds of different types of ale. Some are stronger than others.

Here are some common examples:

  • American Pale Ale – This style has citrus notes with hints of pine.
  • Belgian Dark Ale – This style has strong flavors of chocolate and coffee.
  • English Brown Ale – This style has caramel and nutty flavors.
  • German Pilsner – This style has light bitterness with hints of banana.

What Is Lager?

Lagers are similar to ales. However, lagers have fewer hops. This makes them lighter-tasting.
They also contain higher amounts of yeast. This gives them a smoother taste.

What Is An American Style Lager?

An American style lager is usually darker. They often have a crisp finish.

Some popular examples include:

  • Coors Light – This style has a malty flavor.
  • Miller Lite – This style has a sweet aroma.
  • Budweiser – This style has a hoppy taste.

What Is A German Style Lager?

German style lagers are lighter-colored. They often have a smooth mouthfeel.

This style tends to be sweeter. It can range from mild to very bitter.

Examples include:

  • Heineken – This style has a fruity aroma.
  • Beck’s – This style has a spicy aroma.
  • Grolsch – This style has a floral aroma.

What Is A Scottish Style Lager?

Scottish style lagers are light-bodied and low in carbonation.

These beers tend to be slightly sweet. They also have a distinctive smoky flavor.

Examples include:

  • Guinness – This style has a rich aroma.
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout – This style has a creamy texture.

What Does The ABV Mean On A Bottle Or Can Of Alcoholic Beverages?

Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is a measure of alcohol content.

It tells you how much pure alcohol is in each serving.

For example, a 12 ounce bottle of beer would typically have about 5% ABV.
A standard shot glass of hard liquor would be 50 proof. That means it contains 50 grams of ethanol per 100 milliliters.

Final Thoughts

At first glance, pale ale and IPA seem pretty similar. But, there are actually some differences between these two styles.

If you’re looking for something easy to drink, an IPA or a pale ale. You’ll find that both are delicious!

Andrew Carr
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