What Is an American Double IPA Beer (and How Is It Different From Other IPAs)?

Have IPAs been too soft on your palate? Do you need something hoppier? More bitter? And with more alcohol? Enter Double IPA. It has more of, well, … everything. From hops to bitterness to ABV.
What Is an American Double IPA Beer?

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Bigger is always better, would you agree? Bigger steaks. Bigger burgers. Bigger waffles. And now, Double IPAs.

For IPA fans and nerds, a Double IPA isn’t necessarily double of every ingredient. It’s much more refined than simply adding double the amount of what an IPA recipe calls for.

So how do we truly define a Double IPA? This guide has all the answers for you from what makes it different to how it’s made and beyond.

What Does Double IPA Stand for in Beer?

Double IPA simply reads as Double India Pale Ale. To put that into better perspective, it’s an IPA with a higher hop concentration.

Why Is It Called a Double IPA?

Because of the extra booze! No, really. Double IPAs wouldn’t have the word “Double” in the name if they had the same alcohol levels as an IPA.

Extra booze might sound slightly unclear, so here’s a more thorough explanation. It’s called a Double IPA because you get nearly double of the …

  • Hops
  • Malts
  • ABV or Alcohol By Volume
  • Bitterness

What Makes an IPA a Double IPA?

The quickest way to tell is through the ABV.

Once the ABV of an IPA reaches at least 7%, it enters the Double IPA turf. Double IPAs will have a stronger hoppy and bitter taste, but the maltiness shouldn’t overpower it.

If Double IPAs had a stronger malty flavor than the hoppiness, it wouldn’t be an IPA anymore; it would be Barley wine.

Although ABV is the quickest way to tell it’s a Double IPA, take note of its other characteristics like its flavor, appearance, and aroma.

What Are the Characteristics of a Double IPA?

Flavor

Obviously, Double IPAs have a strong and complex hoppy flavor. The hops used to make a Double IPA showcase a mix of the following notes:

  • Pine
  • Floral
  • Resinous
  • Citrus
  • Melon
  • Berry
  • Tropical fruit
  • Spicy
  • Stone fruit

Now, what about the bitterness? If it’s double the bitterness, then that must mean it’s pretty harsh, right?

Not quite. Harsh bitterness is mostly influenced by the bittering hops used, brewing time, and temperature.

When it comes to Double IPAs, a lingering bitterness should definitely be present, but it shouldn’t be harsh either. Like an IPA, Double IPAs also have a dry to medium-dry finish. You don’t want your Double IPA to taste sweet or heavy.

Finally, the maltiness should be low to medium. Some fruitiness and toffee or caramel notes are acceptable, but not too much it becomes the prominent flavor.

Appearance

Double IPAs typically have a golden to orange copper appearance. Some are even unfiltered to give it a slight hazy effect.

However, most Double IPAs are filtered and modern brews normally have pale appearances.

Aroma

The aroma of a Double IPA imparts fruity notes such as citrus, melon, pine, resinous, etc. Some will impart a grassy aroma, but not all will have it.

Mouthfeel

And finally, the body of a Double IPA.

One might think that it’s heavy because of the “Double” effect to it. But that’s not true. Double IPA’s shouldn’t have a heavy body.

They lean more towards a medium-light to medium body. Why? Because too heavy and it interferes with the hop flavors. As for the carbonation, it’s around medium to medium-high.

What Is the Difference Between an IPA and a Double IPA?

Uhm … nearly everything?

Double IPAs have more hops and more malts leading to more complex flavors than a Regular IPA. You also have the higher alcohol content to accompany a Double IPA’s stronger hoppiness and bitterness.

Now, when you combine all those elements together, you get a taste that’s stronger as well.

IPAs sit in the ABV range of 5.5% to 7.5%, average. Double IPAs are between 7.5% to 10%! That means having a 4-pack on a Sunday afternoon is way past a simple tipsy buzz.

What Is the Difference Between a Double IPA and a Triple IPA?

What? Double IPAs weren’t enough to give you the kick you were looking for?

It’s basic math from here on out. If Double IPAs are double what an IPA is, then Triple IPAs are … 3x that of an IPA.

Compared to a Double IPA, it’s far stronger, hoppier, and has an alcohol content that shoots above 10%. That’s nearly 1/3 of the alcohol content you’d find in Tequila.

But here’s the thing, Triple IPAs are quite new. They’re so new that it’s not even officially recognized by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) yet.

Furthermore, triple IPAs are tricky to brew. As you’ll find out in the later sections, making a Double IPA isn’t so simple. Basic logic will tell you to double the hops and malts used, but that could also backfire in several ways.

Is Imperial IPA the Same as Double IPA?

Double IPAs may also be referred to as Imperial IPAs, and these two are the same. The word “Imperial” comes from the Russian Imperial Stout that was brewed in the late 19th century.

What Is the Difference Between a Double IPA and an Imperial IPA?

There are no differences between the two. In fact, there’s a short history lesson behind the naming convention of Double IPA and Imperial IPA.

Some say Imperial IPAs started in the late 19th century, while others say it was during the 1700s. However, the dates aren’t as important right now.

What’s important to remember is that Russian Imperial Stouts were first brewed and shipped to the court of Catherine the Great of Russia.

These stouts were dark-colored, syrupy, and had a high ABV or alcohol content. Word has it extra hops were added to make the beer stronger and so that it could survive the long journey.

But the truth is, the journey was quite short, so there was no need to extend the beer’s shelf life. So why make it stronger then?

Simply because the Russians preferred stronger beer! And there you have it. The term “Imperial” is simply to denote a stronger IPA, stout, porter, or pilsner.

What Is a Hazy Double IPA?

Wait … do Hazy Double IPAs even exist? Oh, hell yes, they do. But how is it different than a Double IPA?

Think NEIPA.

NEIPA or New England IPAs are juicy, fruity IPAs with a softer mouthfeel and less bitterness. Compared to an IPA, what shines in a NEIPA is the fruitiness, juiciness, and sometimes, its haziness.

A Hazy Double IPA will have restrained bitterness as a result of late or dry hopping. Because the hops are added late in the brewing process, you get more flavor and aroma than you do bitterness.

Tropical fruity flavors, juiciness, and haziness all make a Hazy Double IPA. The only difference between a Hazy Double IPA and a Hazy IPA is the ABV or alcohol content.

Hazy Double IPAs have an ABV between 8% to 9%, and that’s only fair since it is also a Double IPA. What about flavor, appearance, and aroma? How do Hazy Double IPAs differ from Double IPAs?

Here’s a table to illustrate the differences:

Characteristics Hazy Double IPA Double IPA
Appearance Hazy and opaque; straw yellow to orange hue Clear; golden to light bronze-orange
Flavor Juicy, tropical fruit flavor notes, and a restrained bitterness Citrus, piney, resinous, or tropical fruit notes; high bitterness
Aroma Big fruit aromas; Juicy, almost similar to ripe fruit Floral, citrus, pine/resin, stone fruit; some have grassy aromas
Mouthfeel Softer mouthfeel and a creamy, silky body Low-medium to medium body; dry, crisp profile
ABV 8% to 9% 7.5% to 10%

What Color Is a Double IPA?

Most Double IPAs you see today will have a fairly pale appearance. Most are also filtered to give it a clear appearance, although, some will have a slight haze.

As for the color, Double IPAs usually have an amber or deep golden to light bronze–orange color.

Is a Double IPA a Dark Beer?

Double IPAs have an SRM rating of 6 to 14. What is SRM? Put simply, SRM is a way to measure the color intensity of beer.

You don’t have to memorize anything. You just need an SRM chart that you can easily find anywhere online as a reference.

Now, does an SRM of 6 to 14 mean Double IPAs are dark beers? Not at all. An SRM of 6 to 14 falls between deep gold to medium amber in the SRM chart.

For a beer to be dark, it would need to have an SRM between 22 to 40. Most beers that fall in this category include Porters, Stouts, and Black IPAs.

Are Double IPAs More Bitter?

Double IPAs are more bitter, without a doubt. Remember: Double IPAs use more hops than IPAs. It goes without saying Double IPAs have a stronger everything than a Regular IPA.

Furthermore, this also depends on the bittering hops used. If the bittering hops used have high alpha acids, then this also influences the intensity of the bitterness.

Wait, what are alpha acids? Good question. They’re basically the main bittering agents in hops. In short, these acids bring bitterness to your beer.

If the hops used have high alpha acids, these can actually create a harsh bitterness in your beer. What you should be aiming for is a clean bitterness.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use hops that have high alpha acids. It’s all about balance. The temperature it’s brewed at, the malts, and other brewing factors can soften the harsh bitterness.

How Much Sugar in a Double IPA?

None. Nada. Zilch.

Even if you did the search yourself, you’d find that beer has 0 grams of sugar. Even if it is a Double IPA, doubling zero is still zero.

Of course, beer will have sugar at the start of the brewing process. Most of the sugar comes from your grains or malt.

But at the end or during fermentation, yeast converts the sugar into alcohol. Even with a Double IPA, recipes will usually require corn sugar. However, corn sugar will also be converted into alcohol.

Now, before you start jumping in joy because of the zero sugar a Double IPA has, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have calories.

Although beer doesn’t have sugar, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook just yet. The calories found in beer are mostly influenced by its ABV or alcohol content (more about this in the sections below).

Does a Double IPA Have More Calories?

Double IPAs have more calories and here’s why.

A higher ABV or alcohol content leads to higher calories. A bigger pour size also means more calories, but that’s fairly obvious.

Here’s another way of looking at this:

  • A 7% ABV beer will have higher calories than a 6% ABV beer
  • A 16-oz. (473 ml) can has more calories than a 12-oz. (355 ml) can

How Many Calories Are in a Double IPA?

When you’re talking about a heavy-hitter like a Double IPA, there’s no way around it. Double IPAs pack a considerable number of calories that could ruin anyone’s diet.

There isn’t an exact value for the calories found in a Double IPA. On average, the calories in a Double IPA are between 210 to 300!

Surprised? IPAs with an ABV of 5% or 6% will already have between 150 to 175 calories. Since Double IPAs have an ABV between 7.5% to 10%, higher calories are an absolute fact.

How Many Calories Are in a 12 Oz Double IPA?

A 12-oz. (355 ml) Double IPA will have between 200 to 280 calories, depending on the ABV. At the bare minimum of 7.5% ABV, the calories can range between 200 to 220.

How Many Calories Are in a 16 Oz Double IPA?

At 16 oz., you’re looking at nearly half a liter of beer! So what does this mean? Apart from the high calories already due to a high ABV, you have an even higher calorie count due to pour size.

Calories for a 16-oz. Double IPA range between 300 to 400 calories. At 7.5% ABV, a 16-oz. Double IPA can have 300 to 310 calories.

The next time you buy a 16-oz. can or bottle off the shelf, just remember it’s going to have 300 calories or more.

How Many Calories Are in a Double IPA Hazy?

The same principle applies to a Double IPA Hazy. As with any beer, it always depends on two factors: ABV and pour size.

So when it comes to a Hazy Double IPA, the calorie count ultimately depends on how high the ABV is. Since Hazy Double IPAs typically have an ABV between 8% to 9%, expect 220 to 270 calories in a 12-oz. can.

For a 16-oz. (473 ml) Hazy Double IPA, it will most likely be 300 calories or more.

Do Double IPAs Have More Alcohol?

From the word “Double” itself, a Double IPA has extra or more booze than most IPAs. In case you’re wondering, a Triple IPA will have even more alcohol than you would expect.

In fact, the higher alcohol content is precisely one of the reasons why it’s called a Double IPA.

How Much Alcohol Is in a Double IPA?

When an IPA reaches 7% ABV, it’s generally considered a Double IPA. However, most Double IPAs today don’t have ABVs within the bare minimum of 7%.

Typically, Double IPAs have an ABV or alcohol content between 7.5% to 10%.

Why Do Double IPAs Have More Alcohol?

Interesting question. To understand this fully, take a few steps back first.

First, where does alcohol in beer come from? It comes from sugar. And where does the sugar come from? It comes from the malt or grains in your grain bill.

So, the more malt or grains you have, it follows that there will be more sugar available for the yeast to convert into alcohol.

Since Double IPAs have more malt, not to mention the addition of corn sugar, this means more food for yeast to munch on and transform into alcohol.

That wasn’t so hard to understand, right? Haven’t you wondered why beer is made up of 4 main ingredients: yeast, water, hops, and grains?

Without the yeast and grains in that mixture, it’s hard to say you’d ever get any alcohol in your beer.

What Beers Are Considered Double IPA?

Any IPA that has an ABV of 7% and above is generally classified as a Double IPA. Most breweries mention it in their label, too, so it’s easier to tell between a Double IPA or Regular IPA.

If the packaging doesn’t say Double IPA, it will most likely mention it’s an Imperial IPA.

If you’re looking to try a Double IPA, go for either Russian River Pliny the Younger or Russian River Pliny the Elder.

But if you want several options, the Double IPAs listed below are worth trying:

Double IPA Brewery ABV
Firestone Walker Double Jack Firestone Walker Brewing 9.5%
New England Brewing G-Bot New England Brewing Co. 8.5%
Columbus Brewing Bodhi Columbus Brewing Company 8.5%
Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double Sunshine Lawson’s Finest Liquids 8%
Stone Ruination 2.0 Stone Brewing Co. 8.5%
Hill Farmstead Double Citra Hill Farmstead Brewery 8%
Ninkasi Tricerahops Ninkasi Brewing Company 8%
Sierra Nevada Big Little Thing Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 9%
Clown Shoes Space Cake Clown Shoes 9%
All Ways Down Double IPA 10 Barrel Brewing Co. 9%
Maine Beer Company Second Dinner Maine Beer Company 8%
Dogfish Head 90-Minute Imperial IPA Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 9%
Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Lagunitas Brewing Company 8%
Hercules Double IPA Great Divide Brewing Company 10%
Bell’s Two Hearted Bell’s Brewery, Inc. 11%
Lagunitas Maximus Colossal Double IPA Lagunitas Brewing Company 9%
Double Trouble Imperial IPA Founder’s Brewing Company 9.4%
Elysian Space Dust IPA Elysian 8.2%

Is Space Dust a Double IPA?

Elysian Space Dust is a Double IPA with an ABV of 8.2%. Elysian describes Space Dust as a Double IPA that balances bitterness with the sweetness of its hop flavors.

It also has a medium body, dry finish, and orange peel, grapefruit, and mango aroma.

Is Lagunitas a Double IPA?

If you’re referring to Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Hop Stoopid IPA, then yes, it’s a Double IPA. However, that’s not the only Double IPA Lagunitas has to offer.

They also have Maximus, which they describe as a Colossal Double IPA. At 9% ABV, Maximus has a massive dry hop bill that imparts berry, spicy, and floral notes. It’s definitely a Double IPA for a hophead.

Is Bells Two Hearted a Double IPA?

Bell’s Two Hearted is an ABV monster, coming in at 11%! However, don’t let its alcohol content scare you. This Double IPA has a rich malty character, resinous hoppy aroma, and citrus, piney notes that are worth trying.

Think you can handle a 16-oz. can (473 ml) of Bell’s Two Hearted Double IPA? Or better yet, if that’s too beginner level for you, why not go for a much bigger size? Bell’s Brewery, Inc. offers it in Draught packaging!

Is Sip of Sunshine a Double IPA?

Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine is a Double IPA with an ABV of 8%. It was inspired by Lawson’s original Double Sunshine IPA.

What makes these two different? Both share a tropical fruity and juicy flavor along with a floral aroma. However, the hops, specialty malts, and water source used to brew Sip of Sunshine are different.

Who Invented Double IPA?

Believe it or not, the first Double IPA was made by accident. Vinnie Cilurzo, the founder of Double IPA, was brewing at the Blind Pig in Southern California.

As the story goes, Vinnie accidentally added too much malt in the mash. However, Vinnie didn’t ditch the mash. Bold.

Instead, he added more hops in the hopes it would balance with the extra malt added. Now you can guess what happened next, right?

The result was the hoppy delight now known as Double IPA!

It’s also worth noting that a few breweries were able to bring a lot of influence to the Double IPA style. These breweries are:

  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Rogue Ales Brewery
  • Stone Brewing Co.

How Are Double IPAs Made?

Making a Double IPA can be tricky. It sounds simple because Double IPAs seem like it’s all about adding double the amount of your original ingredients.

But the harsh reality is that it’s not as simple as that. Here’s why. Let’s say you’re using crystal malt in your original IPA recipe. If you’re brewing a Double IPA, doubling the amount of crystal malt in your grain bill will most likely lead to having too much malt.

And if you have too much crystal malt, your beer will taste sweeter and undrinkable. Now, this doesn’t only apply to crystal malt. Your hops are just as important too.

If you simply add double the amount of hops, you’ll likely end up with a vegetal character in your beer that won’t fit the style at all. Again, this will make your beer undrinkable.

So what’s the right way to make a Double IPA? The best way is to carefully consider each element, starting with the grains used.

What Hops, Grains, and Yeast Are Used to Make a Double IPA?

Grains

Keep your grain bill simple. It’s always fun to experiment with different grains and malts, but you need to learn the basics first.

A simple grain bill could be:

  • 2-Row malt
  • Carapils (Dextrin malt)
  • Crystal malt
  • Acidulated malt (optional if you want to add complexity and highlight hop aromas but not necessary)

Your base malt makes up 85% to 90% of your total grain bill. Aside from 2-Row malt, you can also use Maris Otter. For Crystal malt, you can use Crystal 45.

Apart from all the malts mentioned, you can also add dextrose or corn sugar to give your yeast more food or sugar to convert into alcohol.

Remember that adding more malt isn’t always the best option because this can lead to a sweeter, unfavorable beer.

Furthermore, the addition of corn sugar is mainly to raise the ABV without damaging the quality of your beer.

Hops

American hops should take the center stage. For good and clean bitterness, go for either Simcoe or Chinook.

If you want to add more hops, you’re free to use any of the following:

  • Cascade
  • Centennial
  • Amarillo
  • Mosaic
  • Chinook
  • Warrior
  • Galaxy
  • Columbus
  • Tomahawk
  • Zeus
  • Nelson Sauvin

Now, which hops work best when brewing a Double IPA? Amarillo, Chinook, Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial, and CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, & Zeus) are great options.

Cascade delivers citrusy and floral flavor notes. Amarillo imparts peachy and apricot flavors. Simcoe for a piney flavor. CTZ if you want dank, spicy, or garlic notes. Centennial for fruity flavors, and Chinook for a peppery flavor.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to these hops. However, these hop aromas are quite volatile. What that means is you don’t want to age your Double IPA if you use these hops. Instead, drink it fresh, and immerse yourself in the flavors and aromas.

Yeast

Although hops and malts seem to take a big portion of the spotlight here, yeast is equally important. Remember: your yeast is what brings all the flavors together.

Choose the wrong yeast and you end up with an unbalanced Double IPA. Nobody wants that, right?

For your yeast selection, choose yeast strains with a clean and neutral character. Some of these include:

  • Wyeast American Ale 1056
  • White Labs California Ale (WLP001)
  • Northwest Ale 1332
  • California Ale V WLP051

If you prefer to use dry yeast, go with Safale US-05. Alternatively, you can also use Imperial yeast, such as:

  • A20 Citrus
  • A18 Joystick
  • A24 Dry Hop

Useful Tips for a First Timer Brewing a Double IPA

Now that you know what hops, yeast, and malts to use, these tips will be useful to you as a new homebrewer.

  1. Don’t use a large amount of crystal malt. A little bit of crystal malt gives your Double IPA color and body, but don’t go overboard. This will wreck your hops and beer’s flavor.
  2. If you prefer to have more body in your Double IPA, you can reduce the amount of corn sugar added to your grain bill. Reducing your sugar and adding more 2-Row malt is a safe way to go about it.
  3. Your mash temperature should be between 148 to 151ºF (64 to 66ºC). A low mash temperature makes it easier for the sugar to break down later. Also, it allows you to highlight your hops more.
  4. Keep your fermentation temperature between 66 to 68ºF (18 to 20ºC). Why? Too high and you might extract diacetyl. Diacetyl imparts a buttery flavor in your beer that’s considered unfavorable. It’s not a good aroma/flavor to have in your beer.
  5. For dry hopping, this can take between 12 to 14 days. As for the dry hop temperature, you can start at 60ºF (15.6ºC). This will still allow you to remove as much yeast as possible while preserving hop aroma. Add your first dry hops then your second dry hops when you have 5 days left in your total dry hop timeline.
  6. If you plan to transfer your homebrew from a primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter, this is also fine. However, only add your hops after you’ve transferred your homebrew to your second fermenter.

How Long Does It Take to Make a Double IPA?

Making a Double IPA can take between 12 to 16 days. Some prefer to do it under 2 weeks, while others prefer to do double dry hopping and reach 14 to 16 days.

To give you a rough estimate, fermentation can take between 7 to 10 days. Dry hopping (single) can take 3 days.

Can You Age a Double IPA?

Well, that’s a golden question, now is it? Can you age a Double IPA? Well of course you can! But just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.

Here’s the thing about Double IPAs, or rather IPAs in general: they’re made with a ridiculous amount of hops.

Hops are the amazing little flower plants that deliver all the aroma and flavor you love in an IPA. However, hops have an expiration date, meaning they break down and oxidize over time.

Of course, there are several ways to keep a Double IPA from aging like using a sealed container or refrigerating/freezing it.

Nevertheless, none of these techniques completely prevent the hops from losing their flavor over time. So should you age your Double IPA? You’re welcome to give it a try.

But before that, try a Double IPA as soon as you buy it, then try the same Double IPA a week later. You’re bound to notice differences in the flavor.

How Long Does Double IPA Stay Fresh?

For the best flavors and freshest aromas, Double IPAs stay in their optimal state for up to 3 weeks. Does that mean a Double IPA is bad to drink after 3 weeks?

Not exactly. Within those 3 weeks is when all the flavors and aromas in your Double IPA shine through. Unless your taste buds are toasted, you have about 3 weeks to get all the best damn flavors in a Double IPA.

But if that doesn’t bother you so much, the average shelf life of Double IPAs is 3 months. Fresh or not, it’s not wise to drink Double IPAs past their expiration date.

Now, don’t worry. You’re not going to die. It’s not as bad as spoiled milk. But one thing’s for sure: After those 3 months, the flavors will be gone.

By then, it’s not going to be so much an IPA, let alone a beer worth even opening.

Do Double IPAs Go Bad?

You bet they do. Double IPAs don’t live as long as Hostess cakes like Twinkies. And as mentioned earlier, you have about 3 months before Double IPAs lose their flavor. However, 3 months is the average estimated shelf life.

The general rule of thumb is: the hoppier the beer, the more vulnerable it is to degradation and oxidation. That’s basically another way of saying, if you buy a Double IPA today, it’s best to drink it at the moment or within the week.

Extending that to 3 weeks is fine, but preferably the sooner you drink it, the fresher it will taste.

Finally, just because a Double IPA can go bad, doesn’t mean it’s going to turn as rancid or as foul as milk. What’s important to remember here is, heat, ultraviolet light, time, and oxygen are enemies of IPAs.

Constant exposure to these elements accelerates the diminishing of flavors in an IPA.

How to Buy the Freshest Double IPA

And why shouldn’t you? Beer tastes best when it’s fresh. It’s an absolute fact. No — this isn’t the same freshness as, like, eggs or milk.

When beer tastes fresh, the minute you open the bottle, you get a strong whiff of those orange, pineapple, and melon aromas. The second you take a sip; you immediately taste a citrusy lemon peel flavor.

Do you think that’s possible with a Double IPA that’s been sitting on the shelf for a month? Nah. What you’d get instead is a dull and lame IPA. If you’re really unlucky, it’s going to taste like cardboard. So how do you get the freshest Double IPA and save your tastebuds the harm of a stale Double IPA?

There are several ways, starting with …

Do You Check the Labels in the Double IPA Can/Bottle?

This sounds fairly obvious and simple, but did you really check the label the last time you bought an IPA? Or did you just grab a 6-pack hoping it would taste the same way it was advertised?

Listen up. If you’re paying close to $100 or more for a pack of Double IPAs, don’t you deserve the best quality possible?

One of the best ways to do that is to start reading the packaging label. Look for the labels “Enjoy by” or “Bottled on”.

This should give you a better indication of whether the Double IPA is still fresh enough for your tastebuds to enjoy.

Remember: the longer a beer ages, the more flavors diminish over time. This doesn’t apply to beers that benefit from aging like Barley wine, but with IPAs, aging is a bad move.

Now, here’s a guide on how to read these labels:

  1. If the Double IPA has a “Bottled on” label, count how many days it has been since then. If it hasn’t reached 30 days yet, it’s still fresh. If it’s been more than 3 months, avoid that lame stuff.
  2. If the Double IPA has an “Enjoy by” label, it’s harder to determine its freshness. Why? Because you don’t know when exactly the bottle was filled. So, consider the location of where you’re buying it. Is the store close to a brewery? How fast do Double IPAs sell in the store? Would a salesman be able to tell you when they got their shipment?

How Is the Double IPA Stored?

When you’re buying an IPA, you can’t treat it the same way as buying a light beer.

The hoppier a beer is, the more vulnerable it is to an element like temperature. In others words, a warm IPA sitting at room temperature on a beer shelf isn’t going to stay fresh for as long as 3 months. It may not even be as fresh after 3 weeks.

So should you buy a Double IPA off a beer shelf that’s been sitting at a warm temperature? Absolutely not.

Just like how most desserts taste better cold, so does a Double IPA. Here’s another thing to consider: light.

If you’re buying a Double IPA from a local store but the bottles are exposed to direct sunlight, spend your hard-earned cash elsewhere.

For one, exposure to light accelerates the oxidization process. Second, if it’s not stored in a brown bottle or 6-pack carrier, it’s not packaged well enough against light.

And third, exposure to light also means your Double IPA is getting warmer by the minute, in effect, stale beer.

Where Is the Double IPA Sourced From?

It’s always better to buy a Double IPA from your local brewery. Why? Because the chances of scoring a fresh Double IPA are higher.

Put it this way. If you’re buying a Double IPA from a bar, you might ask the bartender when the keg was filled or their shipment schedule.

The problem is, there’s no guarantee they would know exactly when this was. Second, if the Double IPA was shipped from another country, this could take weeks before it arrives.

During that timeframe, a Double IPA loses its freshness by the day. Sometimes, this is unavoidable. And the best option at times is to find a local brewery, drive to the location, and buy the freshest Double IPA there.

But if you’re too tired to drive all the way, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Paying attention to packaging labels and buying from cold storage are a good start. As a result, your chances of scoring a fresher Double IPA are higher.

Finally, there’s one more thing you can do to score a fresher Double IPA. Check if the Double IPA is wet hop or dry hop. Wet hops are less concentrated, but they’re fresher than their dry hop counterparts.

How can you tell a Double IPA is wet hopped? This will usually be found on the label of your beer.

It’s worth noting that the harvest period for hops usually falls during August or September. If you can grab a Double IPA from your local brewery at this time, go for it.

If your local store or brewery receives a new shipment in August or September, there’s a good chance wet hops were used. That means those beers are fresher and definitely worth that 10- to 15-mile drive.

What Does a Double IPA Pair With?

There’s no better way to end this article than to give you a list of all the best pairings of a Double IPA. Sure, drinking a Double IPA solo is one hell of a way to go. But you can’t deny that food pairings make the experience more wholesome, and at times, sweeter. That said, here is a list of all the great pairings you should get your hands on.

What Food Pairs Best With Double IPAs?

Salty and Fried Food

IPAs that have that extra bitterness make it more of a challenge in choosing the right food pairing. Why? The wrong match could make your IPA taste astringent.

Not exactly the best palate combo, right?

So what do salty and fried food have over others? The salt and high fat in fried food tone down the bitterness. It actually gives the malty character a little more kick.

Salted nuts, Chex Mix, fried chicken, or even cheese sticks and cheese curds are epic food pairing examples to try.

Mexican Food

Fajitas, anyone? Can you taste the lime, refried beans, and chilies? You know what makes Mexican food such a great pair? It’s the perfect match for any citrusy Double IPA. And fajitas are just the appetizers.

Go get a burrito or a deep-fried chimichanga for a serious treat.

However, Mexican food pairs best with lighter-bodied IPAs. Considering Double IPAs are medium-bodied, this isn’t so much of a problem.

Maybe go easy on all the cheese and stuffing that might make you feel too full, alright?

Classic Grilled American Goodies

Can you ever go wrong with steak and an IPA?

Never. For your next Saturday or Sunday grill cookout, don’t be afraid to whip up a big bad steak. Throw in some mean burgers too while you’re at it.

The caramelized crust on grilled meat elevates the caramel malty flavor in a Double IPA. And that’s not even the best part. All the bitterness and hop flavors are a surprisingly beautiful contrast with grilled meat.

It’s an umami explosion!

Indian Food

Indian food pairings are endless with Double IPAs. Because Indian food is so vast from spices to creamy dishes, it’s undoubtedly one of the best pairings on any day.

Indian spices like coriander, tamarind, and cardamom harmonize with hop flavors beautifully.

A must-try dish with a Double IPA? Curry dishes. Paired with a cold Double IPA and you’ve got bitterness to cool your tongue and malt as the finisher.

Now, who can say no to a creamy chicken yogurt-based dish? Go grab Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale and you’ll find out.

Finally, don’t forget ghee! In Indian cuisine, ghee is clarified butter that makes sauce-based Indian dishes so rich.

Save Sweets for Last

We all thought sour and bitter don’t jive well together, but look what happened. You got Sour IPAs. So why wouldn’t sweet and bitter work?

Although a slightly sweeter Double IPA might fare better, you’re welcome to give sweets a shot. For any sweet tooth, you can’t just say no to 2 of your favorites: sweets and beer.

So, what are your sweet options? For starters, chocolate! Want to go even sweeter? Cream cheese frosting!

Wouldn’t it be perfect to have that frothiness mellow the bitterness in your Double IPA? Go for it, hophead!

What’s Next?

Double IPAs aren’t the finish line for what’s new in the IPA scene. Triple IPAs are slowly growing in popularity, and it’s no surprise to hear about a Hazy Triple IPA soon.

Extra hoppiness. Extra booze. And an even stronger bitter kick. If you’ve been craving for something more than just an IPA, go grab yourself a Double IPA.

And while you’re at it, broaden your hoppy horizons with New England IPAs, Sour IPAs, and Milkshake IPAs.

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