What is a Double IPA? An Introduction to This Strong and Hoppy Beer Style

woman drinking double ipa

Double IPA, also known as Imperial IPA, is a beer style that has gained popularity in recent years. It is a variation of the traditional India Pale Ale (IPA) that is known for its high alcohol content and intense hop flavor.

Double IPA is brewed with a large (very large) amount of malt and hops, resulting in a beer that is full-bodied and rich in flavor. Also in a double IPA, the hops used have a high alpha acid content. And the high alcohol content, typically above 7%, which is caused by the amount of malt that is used. This gives it a strong kick that is not for the faint of heart.

What is a Double IPA?


A Double IPA, also known as an Imperial IPA, is a beer style that originated in the United States in the 1990s. It is an amped-up version of the traditional India Pale Ale (IPA) with a higher alcohol content and stronger hop flavor.

The first Double IPA was brewed in 1994 by Vinnie Cilurzo at the now-famous Russian River Brewing Company in California. Since then, the style has become increasingly popular among craft beer enthusiasts and has even spawned its own sub-styles, such as Triple IPAs and New England-style IPAs.

Flavor Profile

Double IPAs are characterized by their intense hop flavor and aroma, which is balanced by a strong malt backbone. They are typically amber to copper in color and have a long-lasting, bitter finish.

The hop profile of a Double IPA can vary widely depending on the specific recipe, but it often includes American hops such as Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe. These hops impart citrus, pine, and resinous flavors and aromas.

Alcohol Content

Double IPAs are known for their high alcohol content, which can range from 7% to 12% ABV or higher. This is significantly higher than the average alcohol content of a traditional IPA, which is around 5-7% ABV.


The ingredients used to brew a Double IPA are similar to those used in a traditional IPA, but in larger quantities. This includes pale malt, which provides the beer’s base, and a variety of specialty malts that add color and flavor complexity.

The key ingredient in a Double IPA, however, is hops. In addition to the American hops mentioned earlier, brewers may also use hops from other regions, such as New Zealand or Australia, to create unique flavor profiles.

Pairing with Food

Double IPAs pair well with bold, spicy foods such as barbecue, Mexican cuisine, and Thai curries. The beer’s hop bitterness and high alcohol content can help cut through the richness of these dishes and enhance their flavors.

For cheese pairings, Double IPAs work well with strong, pungent cheeses such as blue cheese or aged cheddar. The beer’s hop bitterness can help balance the richness of the cheese and cleanse the palate between bites.

How is a Double IPA Different from a Regular IPA?

Hop Character

Double IPAs, also known as Imperial IPAs, are known for their intense hop character. They typically have a higher hop bitterness and aroma than regular IPAs. This is achieved by using a larger amount of hops during the brewing process, as well as using hops with a higher alpha acid content. Double IPAs often have a more complex hop profile, with flavors and aromas that can range from citrus and pine to tropical fruit and floral notes.


One of the most noticeable differences between a double IPA and a regular IPA is the alcohol content. Double IPAs have a higher ABV than regular IPAs, typically ranging from 7-10% or higher. This is due to the higher amount of malt used in the brewing process, which provides more fermentable sugars for the yeast to convert into alcohol. The higher alcohol content can also contribute to a fuller body and a warming sensation in the mouth.

Malt Character

While hops are the star of the show in a double IPA, the malt character is also an important factor in the beer’s flavor and aroma. Double IPAs often have a more complex malt profile than regular IPAs, with a greater emphasis on caramel and toasted flavors. The malt character can help balance out the intense hop bitterness and provide a backbone for the beer’s overall flavor.

Overall, a double IPA is a more intense and complex version of a regular IPA. It offers a more robust hop profile, higher ABV, and a more complex malt character. If you’re a fan of IPAs and looking for a beer with more depth and complexity, a double IPA is definitely worth a try.

Popular Double IPAs

Double IPAs, also known as Imperial IPAs, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Here are a few of the most popular Double IPAs available:

Beer Name Brewery ABV IBU
Pliny the Elder Russian River Brewing Company 8.0% 100
Heady Topper The Alchemist 8.0% 100
Hopslam Ale Bell’s Brewery 10.0% 70

Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company is often considered one of the best Double IPAs available. It has a balanced bitterness and a strong hop flavor. Heady Topper from The Alchemist is another highly sought-after Double IPA. It has a hazy appearance and a juicy, tropical fruit flavor.

Bell’s Brewery’s Hopslam Ale is a seasonal Double IPA that is released in January. It is brewed with honey, which gives it a unique sweetness that balances out the bitterness of the hops. It also has a higher ABV than most Double IPAs, coming in at 10.0%.

Other popular Double IPAs include Stone Brewing’s Enjoy By IPA, Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, and Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid.


Double IPA is a beer style that has gained immense popularity in recent years. It is a strong and hoppy beer that is loved by beer enthusiasts and seasoned drinkers alike. Double IPA is characterized by its high alcohol content, intense hop flavor, and aroma.

Double IPA is a beer that is not for everyone. It is a beer that requires a taste for hops and a love for strong flavors. However, for those who appreciate the complexity and boldness of this beer style, it is a true gem.

While there is no set standard for Double IPA, it is generally agreed upon that it is a beer with an alcohol content of 7% or higher and a high hop content. The beer is brewed using a large amount of malt and hops, which gives it a full-bodied and robust flavor.

Overall, Double IPA is a beer that is not to be underestimated. It is a beer that requires a certain level of appreciation and understanding to truly enjoy. If you are a fan of hoppy and strong beers, then Double IPA is definitely a style worth exploring.

Dan Specht

Dan has been homebrewing beer for 8 years and holds a level 2 certifiication as a Cicerone.

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