IPL beer has amassed quite a following over the last 10-15 years. While some glorify it for making Lagers more flavorful, others love it for making IPAs taste cleaner and crispier. So is it a type of Lager or an IPA – what is IPL beer exactly?
IPL or India Pale Lager is a hoppy beer style brewed using lager yeast. It has a clean and crisp characteristic taste and is available in many exciting flavors thanks to all the various hops used in its preparation. It’s moderately bitter but not too harsh, scoring around 30-70 IBUs.
In this article, I’ve put together an in-depth look at IPL beer, including its connection to IPAs and Lagers. I’ve also gone over some of its unique styles and flavors, of which there are plenty. All in all, I highly encourage you to give IPL a try so you too can feel the ecstasy I’m feeling sipping on a glass right now.
Is IPL Beer Related to IPA Beer or Lager?
The name IPL or India Pale Lager is derived from its connection to two beer styles – IPA (India Pale Ale) and Lager.
IPL beers are related to both IPA style and Lager style beers, as they’re often seen as a combination of the two. This is based on the brewing process of Lagers with the heavy use of hops similar to IPAs.
As a result, you’ll get Lagers’ classic clean and crispy qualities coupled with the aggressive, citrusy, and pine-like taste of American-style IPAs. Now, if you don’t know what IPAs and Lagers are, I’ve put together a brief rundown of both beer styles.
Starting off, we have IPAs – currently all the craze in the craft beer industry. They are top-fermented using ale yeast over a short period and in relatively warm temperatures. Hops are heavily used to enhance its bitterness and infuse it with a fruity or spicy flavor and aroma.
Next, we have Lagers, which still dominates the mainstream market, despite IPA’s growing popularity. These beers are bottom-fermented in a cold environment over a more extended period using lager yeast. In terms of bitterness, Lagers are very subtle and known for being smooth, clean, and easy to drink.
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Where Does IPL Beer Get Its Name?
The IPL beer gets its name from the fact that it ditches the ale yeast used in IPAs for lager yeast. It isn’t as old as IPA beer and has nothing to do with the country India. On the contrary, IPLs were invented in the States as craft breweries became more popular and adventurous.
If you’re interested in learning more about how IPL beer came to be, here’s a detailed read on the evolution of the India Pale Lager.
IPL Beer Characteristics
IPAs and Lagers are two distinct beer styles targeting different demographics with different preferences.
Lagers are the more conventional beers with a clean and snappy profile, making them very light and easily crushable. It’s a great casual sports drink or one that you can pop during the summer. The main problem, though – Lagers tend to be a little flat and conventional to the point of being boring.
On the flip side, you have the adventurous IPAs. This beer style promotes intense flavors and aromas by overindulging in the use of hops – some home-grown, some exotic. That said, IPA tends to be too strong, bitter, and hazy for some people.
Now, IPLs fall somewhere right in the middle, bridging the gap between both beer styles by capturing the best characteristics of each.
An IPL beer will give you the in-your-face zesty, citrusy, and spicy flavors associated with IPAs trapped inside a bright, refreshing, and bubbly profile. And thanks to its Lager-like brewing process, it has a much more pleasant texture making it more palatable and easier to drink.
Overall, if you like Lagers and feel hesitant to try IPAs because they are so strong, then IPLs are a perfect gateway into the world of flavorful alcoholic beverages. At the same time, IPA lovers who dislike Lagers for being too bland can pick an IPL when they are in the mood for a lighter summer drink.
Different Styles of IPL Beer
Depending on the preparation, IPL beers can lean towards more IPA or more Lager.
By tweaking the brewing process, an IPL beer can cover the various lager styles, from light & clear to slightly strong and dark. Whereas, depending on what hops are used, the beverage covers a broad spectrum of flavors to choose from.
Here’s a quick look at some of the popular IPL Beer styles:
- Bocks: A full-body beer with a dark brown color that uses a lot of roasted malt with subtle hop flavoring.
- Pilsner: A clear amber-colored beer that uses herbal hops and caramel malts.
- Helles: A deep amber-colored beer that is maltier and offers a crispier and cleaner profile than other IPLs.
- Oktoberfest: Less hopped but maltier, similar to Helles, this Lager style is medium-bodied and has the classic amber coloring of an IPL.
Now, if you’re not sure which IPL style or flavor to try first, here’s a list of all the popular IPL beers for you to pick.
What Goes Best With IPL Beer
To get the best experience drinking IPL beer or any alcoholic beverage for that matter, you should pair it with the right kind of food.
As such, here’s a list of food that goes with the various types of IPLs:
- Regular IPLs: The aromatic and toasty undertones of regular IPLs go best with cheeseburgers – the citrus flavoring also complements the taste of BBQ sauce or bacon, which you might have on the sides.
- Lighter IPLs: If your IPL leans more Lager, then you can pair it with buffalo wings, noodles, fried fish, or even a hot dog.
- Stronger IPLs: If the IPL has a strong hoppy flavoring, pair it with barbecue ribs, steak, burritos, or fajitas for a filling and satisfying meal.
If you want to learn more about what food goes best with which beer and why you can read this detailed article on beer & food pairings.
IPLs or India Pale Lagers are a marriage between the conventional Lagers and the adventurous craft beer – IPAs.
They bring a ton of exotic fruity flavoring – the main appeal of IPAs – into a more palatable and crushable profile like Lagers.
Overall, it’s an excellent beer style and ideal for those summer afternoons when you want to enjoy a refreshing fizzy beverage for washing down barbecue ribs or buffalo wings.