You might ask “What is the difference between an IPA and a Double IPA?” Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules to follow on this topic, but there are guidelines. Generally speaking an IPA is lighter than a Double IPA in terms of amount of hops and malt, and therefore alcohol content. More hops means more International Bitterness Units (IBUs), although more IBUs doesn’t mean that Double IPAs are always more bitter than IPAs. In fact, the opposite is often true. The use of more malt in Double IPAs in many cases offsets the increase in hops/higher IBUs, creating a more complex and less bitter beer when compared to IPAs.
The Beer Judge Certification Program’s Style Guidelines state that an IPA typically has 5.50% – 7.50% alcohol by volume, while a Double IPA is 7.50% – 10.00%. There may be exceptions to this guideline, but a check of the beers on this website shows that it is extremely accurate. The Style Guidelines also state that IPAs typically have 40 – 70 IBUs while Double IPAs have 60 – 120. There are some IPAs that venture into Double IPA territory (e.g., Surly Brewing’s Furious at 99 IBUs), but again the guideline holds up pretty well.
So if you are looking for a “big” beer in terms of a combination of hops, malt, and alcohol (i.e. overall complexity), you probably will have better luck going for a Double IPA. If you are scared off by the alcohol content of a Double IPA or are looking for a beer that has more of a focus on hops than malt, the IPA usually is a better destination. If you are like me you love both!