IPA--short for India Pale Ale--is probably one of the best known as well as best selling craft variants around the world of craft including here in different cities of Asia.
IPA， INDIA PALE ALE简称，但凡喝过CRAFT没有不知道的。
For newbies--IPA is something of a "must try" variants when entering the door of craft--obviously it's very different from the usual MACRO BEER--so much so that some would try a few sip and "ran away"--preferring something much lighter or simply run back to the comfort of boring old MACRO.
Here in ASIA--IPA is no doubt the most commonly available craft variants whenever you walk into a craft beer bar or bottle shop wherever you might be around craft cities in ASIA--the only issue drinking IPA in ASIA is Freshness--how fresh an IPA do we get?
You see--unless one lives in a city where there's local breweries or brew pub which can brew some decent/good IPAs--most of the time craft drinkers living in ASIA need to rely on importers to bring in IPAs from US/Europe/Australia/New Zealand---and that's where the freshness issue starts...
We all know that craft is after all still a business--and when it's a business--business sense/calculation must come into play--capital efficiency is needed--and that would mean majority if not all of the imported IPAs we can source from the market would all be coming into ASIA via shipping--not air plane.
In ASIA--basically no one fly in fresh IPAs (geeks own beer mail not counted) just to distribute--it only happens when there's special occasions and only very very few importers who's passionate enough( or wanted to drink fresh him or herself) want to do that.
Yes, we would like to think that craft business is at times a little different from conventional bar/beer business when words such as "taste" "passion" 'appreciation" might come in play BUT the reality is--Flying in Fresh Ipas DO NOT make much economic/capital efficiency sense when majority of drinkers don't really know what is craft beer--or say there's quite a large group of drinkers feeling quite happy to drink a 3 to 6 months old IPA or even up to 1 year old IPA(or American pale ale or any hop based variants) when some who lives nearby a US brewery or tap house don't drink any IPAs or hop forward beers that's more than 2-3 week's old.
4）如果有人跟你说，喝IPA是越苦越爽，那只是个人喜好，不代表正确观点，虽然IPA有依照“苦味指数”（IBU）分为IPA，DOUBLE IPA和TRIPLE IPA三大类，另外，喜欢烤香麦芽的还有黑色版本BLACK IPA可选择，不过，无论哪一类，真正酿得好的印度淡啤并不只是强调啤酒花苦味攻击，而是讲究酿品的均衡度/适饮度。
5）假如你是之前喝过一次IPA之后就“逃之夭夭”的新朋友，或许应该再试试其他变奏版本，比如适合新人喝的低度SESSION IPA，又或者是近期开始大热的类果汁混浊NEIPA（NEW ENGLAND IPA），这会是让人对IPA改观的不同类型/分支。
So, if you are very new to craft beer, and if you have tasted 1 or a few IPAs--and you have this question :-
"IPA is only about BITTER?or the more BITTER the better?"
"what is a nice IPA / how to choose a nice one?"
that's quite fair questions to ask though it depends on few scenarios such as :-
1) how fresh is that pint or bottle or can of IPA you drank?
if it's a bottle or can--you can always check for best before date- bottling or canning date--if it's from a tap room then it's a bit more complicated as you won't know for sure the date or how the keg was handled or even how clean the pipes are....
2) if your IPA is from a bottle shop--look carefully if some of the bottles/can being displayed are under direct sunlight or very strong white lights. IF SO--DON'T bother even if it's FREE.
3) regardless if you are drinking from a bar or bottle shop--there's some very clear signals that your beer would have already died/gone bad if you smell anything unpleasant elements such as onions/corns/buttery and so on(also look for the meaning of the term Diacetyl)--or worse if your IPA tasting sour :)
4) If anyone--especially someone you think is a more senior drinker than you telling you that IPA IS ALL ABOUT BITTERNESS--the BITTER it is THE BEST it is---that is simply his or her own preference and surely NOT the truth about IPA. There's something to measure bitterness in a beer named IBU--and there's also the variants of IPA--Double IPA- Triple IPA---as well if you like a roasted malt and dark looking IPA--you have the choice of a Black IPA--so it's really not only about bitterness--it's much more than that.
5) If you are someone who had a bad encounter with an IPA the last time you had 1 and ran away from craft---you should give it another try--there's this thing called SESSION IPA which is lower in intensity be it hops or abv--or you could try out some of those fruit juice like NEIPAs which is quite the rave now--those are IPA variants which will make one change perception about IPA being only BITTER.
6) You have had some IPAs--or even been drinking IPAs for few years now and though "ipa is only ipa--nothing special"--well you could be right( if you have tried most of the awesome ones) or you could be very wrong especially if you have only been drinking what's available in ASIA--try to bring in some beer mail with IPAs you will never get from your regular bar or bottle shop--try some new names/variants--and let's see if you still think the same?