How is IPA Different From Beer? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding IPA In New Zealand

How is IPA Different From Beer? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding IPA In New Zealand

How is IPA different from beer?

The "IPA" (India Pale Ale) is a popular choice for many New Zealanders, and while IPA is a type of beer, its distinct characteristics set it apart from the rest. But what makes IPA different from your conventional beer? Let’s delve into the details.

A Definition Of Beer

Before we talk about the distinctions, it's important to know what beer is fundamentally. Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of starches, which comes primarily from cereal grains like barley. There are many types of beers, categorised based on factors like flavour, colour, brewing technique, and regional variations. Among other categories of beer, Ales, lagers, stouts, and porters are some of the most popular.

Defining IPA

IPA (Indian Pale Ale) is a type of ale that's known for its hoppiness. The IPA was developed in the 19th century in England for export to British citizens living in India, and the higher hop content acted as a preservative for the long journey. Today, it’s a favourite among New Zealand beer enthusiasts who enjoy a brew with strong, complex flavours.

The Core Differences


One of the most defining characteristics of an IPA is its hoppy flavour. Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, Humulus Lupulus, used primarily as a bittering agent in beer. In IPAs, the hops are not just for preservation but for a distinct flavour profile—often floral, citrusy, and bitter.

Alcohol Content

IPAs typically have a higher Alcohol By Volume (ABV) compared to many other beer types. While a regular beer might range from 4-5% ABV, IPAs commonly start at around 5-6% ABV and can go much higher, depending on the type of IPA.

Variety of Flavours

There are an extensive range of sub-types in the IPA category, including but not limited to:

  • English IPA: Closer to the original, with a balanced profile.

  • American IPA: Known for bold hop flavours and higher alcohol content.

  • Double or Imperial IPA: Even higher alcohol content and more hops.

  • Session IPA: Lower in alcohol but retains the hoppy flavour.

  • New England IPA: A hazy, juicy IPA with less emphasis on bitterness.


The colours or hues of IPAs usually range from golden to amber. But with the emergence of various subtypes, you can now encounter IPAs in a diverse array of colours, including hazy and opaque varieties.

Nutritional Aspects

Due to the higher hop and alcohol content, IPAs can have more calories compared to other beers. However, they may also contain more antioxidants and vitamins, thanks to the increased hop content.

Round Up

IPA is a type of beer that stands out for its hoppy bitterness, higher alcohol content, and a wide range of sub-varieties offering different flavour profiles. Whether you’re new to the world of beer or a seasoned enthusiast, understanding what makes an IPA unique can help make your next pint a more favourable one. 

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