Its pleasantly bitter finish and floral hop aroma has made India Pale Ale one of the most popular craft brew styles, and there’s some interesting history behind the “IPA” moniker too.
During the days when India was the crown jewel of the British Empire, beer made in England’s breweries was in demand in the colonial Indian cities. Since this was prior to the existence of the Suez Canal, the only practical sea route from the UK to India was all the way around the horn of Africa.
For the beer, this was a very long and very unrefrigerated journey. Most beers would go bad on the way. India Pale Ale, specially brewed for export to the subcontinent, had a far greater hop content than other beers. The hops acted as a preservative, protecting the beer from spoilage en route, and the colonists were treated to a very drinkable beer style that could be enjoyed with all the senses.