What is the difference between IPA and extra pale ale?

Answered by Willie Powers

IPA (India Pale Ale) and Extra Pale Ale (EPA) are both popular beer styles that fall under the broader category of pale ales. While they share some similarities, there are distinct differences between the two.

1. Hop Character:
IPAs are known for their pronounced hop flavors and aromas. They typically have higher levels of bitterness due to an increased amount of hops used during brewing. This results in a more intense and often citrusy, floral, or resinous hop profile. On the other hand, EPAs generally have a milder hop character, with a more balanced flavor profile that may include some hop bitterness but not as dominant as in IPAs.

2. Alcohol Content:
In terms of alcohol content, IPAs tend to have a slightly higher ABV compared to EPAs. IPAs typically range between 5 to 7.5% ABV, while EPAs usually fall within the 4.5 to 6.2% ABV range. However, it’s worth noting that these ranges can vary depending on the specific beer and brewery.

3. Malt Presence:
While both styles showcase hop flavors, EPAs often have a more prominent malt presence compared to IPAs. The malts used in EPAs contribute to a slightly sweeter and more balanced flavor profile, providing a counterpoint to the hop bitterness. In contrast, IPAs focus more on showcasing the hops, leading to a drier and more bitter taste.

4. Color and Clarity:
In terms of appearance, both IPAs and EPAs can vary in color, but generally, IPAs tend to have a deeper amber or golden hue, while EPAs lean towards a lighter golden color. Additionally, IPAs may have a slightly higher level of haze due to the hops used, whereas EPAs are usually clearer.

5. Brewing Techniques:
IPAs traditionally originated from the need to preserve beer during long sea voyages from England to India. To ensure the beer survived the journey, brewers added higher amounts of hops and increased the alcohol content. This brewing technique created the bold and hop-forward characteristics that define IPAs today. EPAs, on the other hand, evolved as a more balanced and sessionable style, often associated with English brewing traditions.

It’s important to note that the craft beer industry constantly evolves, and brewers often experiment with different styles and variations. This means that the lines between IPA and EPA can sometimes blur, and there may be instances where beers exhibit characteristics of both styles.

While both IPA and EPA are pale ale styles, IPAs are typically more hop-forward, have higher ABV, and exhibit a drier and more bitter taste, while EPAs are generally more balanced, with a milder hop character and a slightly sweeter flavor profile.