Do Double IPAs Always Mean More Alcohol?

Ah, beer — the drink of history. It evolved with humankind, with evidence of beer brewing going as far back as 5,000 BCE. In medieval times, it was the safest thing to drink because regular water was contaminated. Monks and nunneries didn't share their brewing recipes with those outside the abbey walls, and entrepreneurial women opened alehouses to sell the excess beer. With the emergence of the craft and microbrew scene, we have a veritable smorgasbord of beers, from stouts and porters to IPAs and lagers. There is literally a type of beer to suit every mood and taste (via Craft Beer & Brewing).

In the summer, a crisp double IPA is just the ticket for a sweltering afternoon by the pool or beach. An IPA is an India Pale Ale, and its origins are somewhat murky. One guy might have done it in 1793, while IPAs might have been around for a full century before that (per Mental Floss). They're not the same as a pale ale — IPAs are more hop-forward and bitter, with an ABV hovering between 5% and 8% (via Serious Eats). What about those double IPAs you see on the shelf?

The double IPA is the grown-up cousin of the IPA

Double IPAs, or Imperial IPAs, are an American invention that has grown in popularity worldwide. IPAs have double the hops plus an extra helping of malts for more flavor and body. Sometimes, you'll taste more toasty or caramel notes from the extra malt, and different hop combinations lend some interesting flavors to the brew.

However, it doesn't always mean it has double the alcohol, or even that much more alcohol than a regular IPA. The higher alcohol content comes from the additional malt, giving more sugar for the yeast to convert into alcohol, resulting in a stronger beer. The alcohol content of your regular double IPA is usually around 9% or 10% (via Mental Floss), although you can find some double IPAs with a higher ABV — even 11% or 12%.

If you're still confused about double and imperial IPAs, JustBeer has a super handy guide. Maybe the next time you're out at the bar with your friends, you can lay down some sweet beer trivia.