India pale ale was the answer to the problem of providing beer for the British Empire in the east. It was too hot to brew in India, so what was needed was a beer that could survive the gruelling six-month journey from Britain intact. What is an IPA? India Pale Ales (IPAs), which encompass numerous styles of beer, get their characteristics largely from hops and herbal, citrus or fruity flavours. Some IPAs can taste like pure citrus, while others are strong and bitter. Prominent IPA styles include West Coast IPA, British IPA and New England Style IPA.