Granted these are different techniques, there seems to be a line where Pale Ales start to become more bitter and hoppy and IPA-esque. The thing is that Pale Ales don't usually list thier IBU on the bottle.

Hence the question; does anyone know about where Pale Ales end and IPAs begin, with regard to bitterness at least?

1 Answer 1


Referring to the BJCP Style Guidelines, the following is true:

English Pale Ales (ESBs): 25-50 IBUs

American Pale Ales: 20-40 IBUs

IPAs: 40-60 IBUs for English, 40-70 IBUs for American, 60-120 IBUs for Imperial IPAs

Based on this, the answer to your question should be in the 40+ IBU range to differentiate bitterness between pale ales and IPAs.

Bear in mind these are guidelines and not gospel. Generally, the BJCP style guide is a great starting point.

  • These are fairly dated #s. Its true its what BJCP states now but it seems funny to think of an IPA with an IBU as low as 40. Are these #s changing with the newer BJCP guidelines? Anyone know?
    – brewchez
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 19:18
  • There seem to be some differences int he draft 2014 BJCP guideline document. E.g. American Pale Ale is now 30-50 IBU instead of 20-40 IBU. bjcp.org/docs/2014%20BJCP%20Style%20Guidelines%20(DRAFT).pdf Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 9:17
  • IPAs (English and American) are keeping their IBU range in the draft version. So, you can see IPAs inside the range of APA and English PAs.
    – Luciano
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 19:37

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