What Is IPA Beer and Why Is It So Popular

What Is IPA Beer and Why Is It So Popular

Beer experts might know an IPA like the back of their hand, but it’s not a familiar brew to everyone. These beers can seem mysterious for those who are just now getting into visiting taprooms and breweries. You might have heard terms like “hoppy,” “malty,” “mouthfeel,” or even “piney” tossed around when referring to IPAs, but were left with more questions than answers. 

On the other hand, you might be the furthest thing from a new beer drinker. Maybe you drink IPAs weekly, but beer connoisseurs know that there is always more to learn. Whatever beer style appeals to you, there might be something even better out there waiting. Who knows — maybe your new favorite brew won’t be beer at all.

We’re brewing geeks ourselves, and the IPA brewing process is a fascinating one. If you’ve ever had any questions about different styles of IPAs and what new flavors could be out there, we have the answers. We’re also here to introduce you to a no-carb, no-sugar IPA alternative: Our Tropical Hops Hard Kombucha.

What Does IPA Stand For?

Before going more in-depth, let’s start with the basics. Even some beer-lovers throw around the term “IPA” without totally understanding what the acronym stands for. Let’s clear the air.

IPA stands for “India Pale Ale” or “Indian Pale Ale.” At first glance, this name might seem a bit confusing, but there’s a reason behind it.

The Origins of the IPA

This drink got its name from British sailors on six-month voyages at sea. The weather in England is drastically different from the climate in India, so the sailors wanted a beer that could handle the changing temperatures and still taste good.

Those English sailors needed a beer that would stay good during the long journey from their home to India. That’s not all, though — they had to find a recipe capable of withstanding the hot, humid temperatures. The actual brewing process was difficult, or even impossible, to pull off in India’s climate, so brewing there wasn’t much of an option.

The sailors found the secret weapon they were looking for in the form of hops. Hops are why IPAs are so widely known — it’s their distinctly hoppy aromas and flavors. As time went on, IPAs became more of an art form than a necessity, so different hop varieties have been created over the years to augment flavor rather than for preservation purposes.

Just a few of the unique types of IPAs include:

  • New England IPA (AKA a Hazy IPA or an East Coast IPA)
  • Double IPA
  • Triple IPA
  • West Coast IPA
  • American IPA
  • Imperial IPA
  • Black IPA
  • Session IPA

What’s the Average ABV on an IPA?

Although many people flock to IPAs for their distinct hoppy flavor profile (more on that later), another question still needs to be answered: what’s the ABV on an IPA? That sentence is full of acronyms, so let’s break it down real quick.

ABV stands for “alcohol by volume,” which is usually measured on a percentage scale. The typical alcohol by volume on an India Pale Ale can range fairly significantly. IPAs are often known for having a higher alcohol content than other beers, but this is a bit of an oversimplification.

In reality, the ABV depends on the kind of IPA you get. An IPA with a lower ABV will often hover around 5%. Meanwhile, IPAs that were created through a slightly different brewing process could be at 7% or more.

Often, the varieties of IPA with a higher alcohol content will also feel heavier to drink. After just a drink or two, you could find yourself feeling sluggish or weighed down. Instead of feeling ready for a night out, you might just want a quick snooze on the couch.

On the other hand, IPAs with lower alcohol content are typically easy to drink since they’re somewhat lighter than their higher ABV counterparts. This can be both a positive and a negative, depending on how you look at the situation. Some beer drinkers enjoy being able to sip on a few more beers without feeling weighed down, but they might find themselves tipsier than they intended.

With all that said, you still might end up feeling sluggish after drinking an IPA or two. The high carb content of these drinks is an unfortunate reality that all too often cut an exciting night short.

IPA Nutrition Facts

IPAs are notoriously high in both carbs and calories, making them a hard pass for people who are trying to cut back. 

Depending on the type of IPA, this beer can range from 170 to 240 calories per serving — if not more. This calorie payload is higher than many other types of beer and way higher than other alcoholic beverages. There’s more to watch out for than calories, though.

IPAs often have around 30 carbs per serving, so it’s no wonder why you might feel slowed down after drinking one. Because of this, many are left searching for an alternative that provides the same hoppy flavors they love without the unpleasant side effects.

Is There a Low-Carb Alternative to IPAs?

We understand that once you go hoppy, it can be hard to go back. At Flying Embers, we are hops lovers ourselves, which is why we created our Tropical Hops Collection. Tropical fruit flavors like passionfruit, mango, and guava combine with hop aromas to create some of our favorite drinks. 

These flavors bring out the best in each other, but that’s not all they do. By taking real, natural ingredients and using tried-and-true fermentation processes, our beverages are made for the modern drinker in search of something lighter, brighter, and tastier. 

At 8.5% ABV, this collection gives you just the right amount of buzz. On top of the bold flavors found in every can, our Tropical Hops Collection has zero carbs, zero sugar, and zero gluten and is 100% USDA organic.

How Did IPAs Become So Popular?

About a decade or so ago, IPAs were a fairly uncommon drink order at local bars. Since then, they have experienced a renaissance and are now one of the most sought-after beer varieties out there.

The Craft Beer Boom of the 2010s

Although the major beer brands in the United States have experienced a decline in sales over the past decade, there are six times more breweries in 2016 than in 2008. How? Through the rise of craft breweries.

People started to realize that they’d rather support smaller breweries and organizations that seemed to actually care for their customers. At the same time, these craft beer breweries were innovating and creating new flavors, all while maintaining what makes an IPA so unique.

If you’re looking for a craft beer-style experience without the carbs, check out our taproom locations: Flying Embers Boston, Figueroa Mountain Brewery in Santa Barbara, and Flying Embers Brewery & Social Club in Los Angeles. Enjoy our Hard Kombucha offerings on tap, connect with cocktail masters, and much more.

The IPA’s Unique Flavor Profile

IPAs are known for a bitter quality due to the higher than average amount of hops they contain, but there is so much more to them. Fruit and citrus notes abound in these beverages, and depending on what option you choose, you might find flavors of grapefruit, orange, and even earthier notes like pine.

To determine just how bitter an IPA will taste, look no further than its IBU (International Bitterness Units) ranking. Most IPAs range from about 40 to 60 on this scale, and those on the higher end will taste more bitter.

Why We Pick Hard Kombucha Over IPAs

Most of us enjoy IPAs for the hops and the higher alcohol content. However, both qualities can be easily achieved in hard kombucha, which is an overall lighter, brighter option. 

So, how is hard kombucha better than an IPA? We’re glad you asked.

Hard Kombucha Is Gluten-Free

Some of beer’s base ingredients (barley and wheat) contain gluten. Hard kombucha has the subtle tastes beer drinkers enjoy without the gluten that makes it less inclusive.

Hard Kombucha Is Keto-Friendly

The Keto diet requires consuming few carbs, so we’ll do you one better. How about no carbs? All Flying Embers Hard Kombucha has zero carbs (plus zero sugar).

We Make Hard Kombucha With All-Organic Ingredients

Since we believe that what you drink matters, all our ingredients are all-organic. You can rest assured that your hard kombucha has been made with premium, delicious ingredients (ones that you can actually pronounce.)

Uniquely Refreshing Hard Kombucha Flavors To Try

We have flavors that will appeal to hops-lovers, but even those who do not prefer those flavors will find something to love here, too. Superfruits and plant botanicals combine to create flavors like Grapefruit Thyme, Wild Berry, Pineapple Chili, and Mango Coconut - all of which will excite the palate and thrill the senses.

Wrapping Up

IPAs helped us see just how delightful hops can be. Through innovation, we can continue to elevate these tastes to new heights — made with only the good stuff and none of the bad.


A Brief History of IPA | The Guardian

What Is an IPA Beer? A Complete Guide to the India Pale Ale | Bon Appétit

Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America | The Atlantic