India Pale Ales, IPAs for short, are a special kind of Pale Ale.
IPAs were first brewed in the 19th century, at the time when India was still a British colony. So that the British were still able to drink beer in their Indian colonies, the beer had to be shipped from England to India. As the Suez Canal hadn't yet been built, the ships had to go round Africa to get to India. The long journey resulted in the beer frequently going bad. So to improve the beer's keeping qualities, it was brewed with lots of alcohol and hops.
IPAs were brewed with a high original gravity. As soon as the beer arrived in India, it was supposed to be thinned with water in equal parts. Initially this beer was called Pale Ale prepared for India. The term India Pale Ale was used for the first time in a newspaper advert in the Liverpool Mercury in 1835.
Of course the IPAs that we drink today aren't thinned down with water anymore! What has remained are the typical characteristics of this kind of beer: the higher alcohol content and original gravity , as well as a powerful hoppy smell and strong bitter taste.
IPAs are enjoying a renaissance at the moment, particularly in the USA and Great Britain, but even in Germany, more and more beer drinkers are discovering India Pale Ales for themselves.
Because of their strong smell and distinctive taste, IPAs are excellent for combining with spicy dishes.
The addition of special ingredients and spices gives many Steamworks IPAs an individual character.