Beer Styles 201: What is a Double IPA (DIPA) & Imperial India Pale Ale (IIPA)?
Double IPA & Imperial IPA: where they come from, their appearance, flavour & aroma, palate & mouthfeel, food pairings and serving suggestions are all explained in this Beer Styles 201 article.
By The Beer Community on Jan. 31, 2017
What is a Double India Pale Ale / Imperial IPA?
Imperial / Double IPAs are a very hoppy, high alcohol by volume, slightly bitter, but flavourful beer.
The term “Imperial” was in the 1800’s for beer (usually stouts) that was brewed in England but then shipped to the Imperial Court of Russia. Later on, “Imperial” was used by brewers to indicate their most luxurious brews.
Nowadays, “Imperial” is a good indication that the beer is going to be big, bold and hoppy! The hops and malts used in the brewing process are doubled or even tripled. This results in a bold beer with a high alcohol by volume, usually ranging from 7%-14%.
Comparing a Double IPA vs. an Imperial India Pale Ale
Many people think that a Double IPA is a different style beer than an Imperial IPA. These people are mistaken! Double IPA is the same as an Imperial IPA. We think that the “double” came from the abbreviation of IIPA, as in (double I)PA. “Double” is more commonly used in North America, while “Imperial” is used more in Europe.
Imperial IPA (IIPA) / Double India Pale Ale (DIPA) Essential Information:
IIPA / DIPA Style Region:
West Coast USA
Imperial / Double IPA’s colour can range from a light, golden amber to a medium copper colour with an orange tint. Most IIPAs are clear, but can come out more hazy when dry-hopped and unfiltered.
Imperial / Double IPAs are stronger, sweeter, and hoppier than a regular IPA. The hop flavour is strong, complex and highly bitter. The malt flavour should be quite low with some toasty and bready flavours. A strong bitterness will linger in the aftertaste but should not be too harsh. Imperial / Double IPAs usually will have a medium to dry finish.
A moderately high hop aroma of earthy or grassy scents are common in a Double / Imperial IPA. Caramel-like aromas can also be present.
Palate & Mouthfeel:
The Double / Imperial IPA beer style has an all-around intense mouthfeel. It is robust, malty, alcoholic and yet still manages a pretty bitter mouthfeel.
What foods pair well with a Double IPA / Imperial India Pale Ale?
Because of the intensity of this beer style it is generally not recommended to go with food. It is usually a stand-alone beer. But, if you insist, fatty and salty foods are best because they cut through the intensity. Try pork sausage, cured meats or salted caramel ice cream.
How to serve a Double IPA:
As the ABV% of your beer rises, the size of the glass should get smaller as well as the serving size (sorry). You want to fully enjoy the beer you are drinking not chug it. This is definitely not a chugging beer.
Comparable styles to a Imperial IPA / Double India Pale Ale:
Now that you’re a DIPA and IIPA expert, learn more about these other beer styles:
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