India Pale Ale changed the face of brewing early in the 19th century. The new technologies of the Industrial Revolution enabled brewers to use pale malts to fashion beers that were genuinely golden or pale bronze in colour.
First brewed in London and Burton-on-Trent for the colonial market, IPAs were strong in alcohol and high in hops: the preservative character of the hops helped keep the beers in good condition during long sea journeys. Beers with less alcohol and hops were developed for the domestic market and were known as Pale Ale.
Today Pale Ale is usually a bottled version of Bitter, though historically the styles are different. Marston’s Pedigree is an example of Burton Pale Ale, not Bitter, while the same brewery’s Old Empire is a fascinating interpretation of a Victorian IPA. So-called IPAs with strengths of around 3.5% are not true to style. Look for juicy malt, citrus fruit and a big spicy, peppery bitter hop character, with strengths of 4% upwards.Information from www.camra.org.uk/page.php?id=230