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We Help You Break down If There is Really a Difference between Pale Ale & IPA

We Help You Break down If There is Really a Difference between Pale Ale & IPA

Pale ale and IPA are staples amongst beer drinkers all over the world, and while pale ale has been a household name as early as 1703, IPA only rose to prominence in the early 1990s. Yet, even from its namesake alone, IPA (Indian Pale Ale) sounds awfully similar to pale ale, and there’s understandably some confusion between the two kinds of craft beer and what exactly they each bring to the table. If you’re looking to find out what sets IPA and pale ale apart, read on to find out more.

What is IPA and Pale Ale?

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Long story short, pale ale is a category of beer which IPA also falls under. Essentially, pale ale is brewed with mostly pale malts to balance out its malt-to-hop ratio, and the amount of pale malts is what gives pale ales their lighter colour and flavour. IPA is a more hoppy variant of pale ale, usually carrying a citrusy aftertaste. It also tends to be a little more bitter and have a higher alcohol percentage than pale ale.  


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All pale ales, including IPAs, let the flavour of its hops shine through a little more than other kinds of craft beer like pilsners and stouts. They also share similar pale-copper colours and fermentation processes. More importantly, they are both available on ARVO’s craft beer online shop in Singapore


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If you’ve tried both IPA and pale ale in Singapore, you’d probably have noticed that IPA tends to carry  citrus, herbal, or fruity flavours. They are also stronger and contain a higher alcohol percentage than pale ale; this also explains its distinct bitterness, albeit subdued by the fruitiness. Pale ales, on the other hand, are lighter and taste more malty. English pale ales also contain bready notes, akin to crackers or biscuits. Due to their cleaner and milder, more familiar flavours, and lower alcohol concentration, those looking to try beer for the first time often ease themselves in with pale ales before working their way up the flavour ladder. 

The way pale ales and IPAs differ in flavour can also be reflected through the different varieties that have since branched out from both craft beers. The 4 popular types of pale ales today are: American amber ale (a darker and full-bodied variant of traditional pale ale with hints of toffee); American pale ale (which, with its slight floral and fruity notes, actually resembles a light IPA); Blonde ale (light bodied and smooth); and English-style pale ale (the closest resemblance to original pale ale).

Similarly, the 4 popular types of IPAs are: American IPA (strong hop with hints of pine and citrus); Brut IPA (replaces IPA’s characteristic sweetness with a dry, champagne-like sensation); New England IPA (hazy variant of American IPA with grapefruit aromas); and West Coast IPA (a more bitter version of New England IPA). 

Additionally, you can also find different emerging kinds of pale ale and IPA in Singapore, such as Local Brewing Co’s Mandarin & Maple Syrup Neipa IPA, courtesy of ARVO’s craft beer online shop in Singapore. 

Which of the Two is Better?

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When it comes down to it, there isn’t really a contest between the two — both possess different characteristics and flavour profiles that suit different taste buds. In fact, the perception of hoppiness and bitterness, two distinct notes in IPAs and pale ales, can be different according to each person. As both characteristics can be easily confused, they are therefore perceived subjectively, and some might find IPAs less bitter than pale ales. Ultimately, it’s up to you to explore the two in greater depth to find one that best suits you. 

To check out ARVO’s full catalogue of IPAs and pale ales through our craft beer online shop in Singapore, please visit our website.

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