The IPA was created to quench the thirst of soldiers of the British Army serving in India?
When I began differentiating beer styles and flavors, the first distinction I wanted to clarify was what made a pale ale an india pale ale (IPA). Without having to do research, other than an at-home taste test, I could resolve that IPA’s were much stronger in nature than a pale ale; their alcohol content is typically higher and the bitterness from the hops are way above average.
Taking a look back in history, the pale ale received its name when it was distinguished as a beer made with lighter malts than the darker ales (back then, of course, there were much fewer taps than what we’re accustomed to today).
During the late 18th and early 19th century, the British Army set up camp in India. Apparently, due to the hot climate and conditions, the soldiers requested a cold brew from home (specifically, the familiar pale ale). Ships from England to India were able to transport pale ales and porters, but only the latter and a few pale ale casks survived the long voyage unspoiled. Since porters are not appealing under the hot Indian sun for many soldiers, an English brewer came up with a solution.
While the science is much more extensive, essentially brewers created a pale ale with a high alcohol content and hop level in order to impede spoilage during the time it took to sail from England to India. Hence, the India Pale Ale came to be.
Nearly a hundred years later, America began adding specialized hops to their ales and introduced the American IPA. Some other IPA categories include Imperial (double), Black, Belgian-style; which older beer styles are manipulated ever so slightly to give you a something new.