Double IPA, sometimes called DIPA or Imperial IPA, is a strong ale with IPA characteristics, but with higher alcohol content, more complex flavors, and increased hop bitterness and flavor. It is a modern style, born of the innovation of the American craft beer movement. You know us Americans, we’ve always got to make everything bigger and better.
There is a wide variety of Double IPAs on the market but they share many commonalities, most notably, hops. Lots of them. Hop flavors, aroma and bitterness are the main event. DIPA is the most hopped style of beer, with hop additions added many times from mash to packaging. Dry hopping, the process of adding hops into fermentation tanks, is the rule and gives DIPAs intense hop flavors and aromas of resinous pine, orange, lemon, grapefruit, tropical fruit, melon and more. Some can be quite dank, while other are citrusy, fruity or floral.
Double IPAs have enough malt backbone to support the hop assault, yet never overshadow it. Some are more balanced than others, but well-balanced is a desired trait. When well-balanced, you shouldn’t notice caramelly or bready malts common in English IPAs or some Pale Ales. There may be some sweetness in the middle, but DIPAs usually finish dry. They should be very drinkable despite their size and bitterness, unlike it’s bigger sippable cousin, American Barleywine.
Double IPAs have a SRM* range of 6 to 14 and pour golden to a deep orangey-copper color. The perceived bitterness is high; the BJCP style guide says some are “absurdly high.” DIPAs are king of the IBU* scale, weighing in at 60-120. But all those IBUs are more than just bitterness, complex hop aromas and flavors are abundant. Alcohol content is big too, from 7.5-10+ ABV.*
Some of the best known and hardest to find beers in America are Double IPAs. Russian River Pliny the Elder and The Alchemist Heady Topper are two of the tastiest and most elusive DIPAs to be had. It’s not just hype, they are amazing beers. Drink them fresh and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. The hop aromas and flavor will blow you away, while the balanced drinkability will make you wish you snagged more than one in your last trade.
But good Double IPAs are readily available no matter where you are. There are hundreds of interesting DIPAs across our fair land. Some of our favorites are Avery Maharaja, Victory Dirtwolf, Yazoo Hopry, New Glarus Scream IIPA, Sixpoint Resin, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and Ninkasi Tricerahops.
Double IPAs are big beers, so pair accordingly large. This ain’t no raspberry vinaigrette salad beer! In the summer, fire up the grill, char some of your favorite meats and cover them with thick barbecue sauce. Ribs, pork chops, and even chicken all pair nicely when grilled. Strong cheeses are nice too, especially blue cheese and sharp cheddars. The high alcohol content and bitterness of the DIPA will scrub away the fatty coating cheese and sauces leave in your mouth.
The Spiegelau IPA glass is perfect for Double IPAs as well. Developed with Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, this glass enhances the hop aromas and flavors in IPAs, doubly so for a DIPA. If you’re going to a cookout and don’t want to break your fancy IPA glass, check out B Cups plastic IPA cups from Fermented Reality. They really work and are indestructible.
*Standard Reference Method (color)
*International Bitterness Units (hop alpha-acid utilization)
*Alcohol by Volume
All quantitative specifications are from the BJCP Style Guide, 2015