IPA, or India Pale Ale is a strong blonde beer with a very dominant bitter and hoppy flavor. It gets its name from the ships that used to sail between England and India a few centuries ago. In order for the beer to preserve during this long trip, the brewers added much more hops than for regular beer. It is these extra hops that gave the India Pale Ale its characteristic flavor.
This beer style is very popular in the Anglo-Saxon countries (mainly the US), and the first Belgian IPA’s only started appearing about a decade ago. The main difference between Belgian IPA and American IPA is the yeast that is used. Belgian IPA is slightly cloudier and has a purer taste.
The very first Belgian style IPA was Urthel Hop-It by Brewery de Leyerth. Since then a few other breweries have followed in their footsteps, but their number is still relatively limited. Although hoppy and bitter beers are slowly gaining popularity in Belgium, most Belgian IPA is still destined for the US market. The best known Belgian IPA’s are Chouffe Houblon Dobbelen IPA by Brasserie d’Achouffe, Urthel Hop-It and Viven Imperial IPA. One beer that deserves a special mention is Troubadour Westkust, a black IPA, the only one in its kind and only available in 75cl bottles.