IPA vs Pale Ale

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elgee

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This may be a stupid question, but what determines if something is an IPA or Pale Ale? Is it the amount of IBUs?
 

Yooper

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It has to do with some of the basics of the beer.

American pale ales are 4.5-6.2% ABV, with IBUs of 30-45 with some clean malt character and often with some restrained caramel notes. It's got a definite hops flavor and aroma, but not really more than moderately hoppy.

American IPAs are 5.5-7.5% ABV, with IBUs of 40-70. They have a prominent to intense hops aroma and flavor, with firm bitterness that may linger. There is less malt character, and actually should be quite low and should finish dry and crisp. There may be a bit of caramel note, but not as much as in a pale ale.

Generally, American IPAs have more alcohol, more bitterness, and more hop notes. They can actually be quite bitter and hoppy, while an APA will generally be less bitter and hoppy.
 

Piratwolf

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To be fair to the OP, however, I can understand the confusion given the push for MORE HOPS and ABV over the last years. There are some PAs that are stronger than IPAs were 10 years ago, and some I/IPAs that woulda been American Barleywines in that period. Or, to be more accurate, commercial beers often have little or nothing to do with BJCP style guidelines.
 
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elgee

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I am used to making IPAs but want to try to make a pale ale for a change, and don't want to make an attempt at a pale ale and have it end up being an IPA, so that is why I originally asked.
 

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I am used to making IPAs but want to try to make a pale ale for a change, and don't want to make an attempt at a pale ale and have it end up being an IPA, so that is why I originally asked.
The classic American pale ale is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. If you want to make a pale ale, I'd suggest taking a look at their website for their specs, and also looking at clone recipes. That will give you an idea of some expected flavors/colors/IBUs/hoppiness levels.
 
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