The forerunner to both theAmerican IPAand its descendant the double IPA was the British pale ale. Starting in the 1780’s — and possible before — this beer was exported to India and other places.
Over time a new sort of beer emerged, one with higher hops and enough of a tie to the British India colonies to garner the name India Pale Ale around 1835. This ancestor was America’s genesis spark that spawned a line of brewing creativity finding new expression even today.
One of those expressions has been the Double IPA. Also called Imperial IPA and IIPA, this beer style is a higher alcohol, hoppier version of the American IPA.
Its history is short, stretching back only 22 years, but it was the first major innovation in America’s “great IPA experiment;” an experiment which has gone on to methodically redefine how an IPA can be built.
The first double IPA seems to have been brewed by Vinnie Cilurzo back in June of 1994 for the now closed Blind Pig Brewery of Temecula, California. This was followed two years later buy Rogue releasing I2PA in 1996 and Stone followed two years later with their 2nd Anniversary IPA in 1998. It first appeared under its own category at the Great American Beer Festival in 2003.
Today a brewery really isn’t considered hop-head worthy if it hasn’t at least brewed a special release Double IPA and many commercial breweries have an example of the style seasonally, if not year round.