Double Ipa is among the most popular new beer styles among craft beer enthusiasts in the United States. Based on the original India pale ale (IPA) style that was revived by the American craft brewing movement in the 1980s, the newly minted “double IPA” (also known as “imperial IPA”) seeks to take both alcoholic strength and hop intensity to new levels. See india pale ale. Americans tend to feel that “bigger is better” when it comes to many things, whether they be cars or steaks, and beer is no exception. The double IPA is a brashly American expression of hop character, and the best of them are astonishingly bitter, but balance this with dry malt structure and explosive hop aromatics. Most will have bitterness from 65 to 90 international bittering units and the strengths range from about 8% to well over 10% alcohol by volume. Almost all are heavily dry hopped, and some have hops added through the brewing process, starting in the mash. See dry hopping and mash hopping. Most have a honey amber color. For people who love hop bitterness and flavor, these are the ultimate beers, and West Coast beer enthusiasts speak of a “lupulin shift,” where drinkers’ palates become happily accustomed to very high bitterness.

Vinnie Cilurzo, now owner and brewmaster of the Russian River Brewing Company, is generally acknowledged to have invented the double IPA in 1994 while brewing at Blind Pig in Temecula, California. Others claim earlier versions, but Russian River’s Pliny the Elder is still regarded as ranking among the best produced. As of 2011, more than 100 double IPAs were being produced by American craft brewers, and these beers are now beginning to have an influence in Europe and beyond. The style moniker “double IPA” rankles with traditionalists, who feel that it confuses both brewing history and modern consumers. In its heyday, IPA was a well-defined style, and double IPA is a distinctly different beer; perhaps it ought somehow to be named for its native California. The nomenclature has surely already left the barn, however, and triple IPA and quadruple IPA cannot be far behind.