Is IPA beer high in carbs?

IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale, is a hoppy, bitter style of beer that has become very popular among craft beer drinkers in recent years. With the rise in popularity of low-carb diets such as keto and paleo, many beer drinkers are wondering how IPAs fit into a low-carb lifestyle. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the carb and calorie content of IPAs to determine if they are high in carbs compared to other beer styles. We’ll also provide some tips for enjoying IPAs while limiting carbs.

What are IPAs?

IPAs were originally brewed in Britain in the 1800s for export to India. The extra hops and higher alcohol content helped preserve the beers during the long sea voyage. Today, American craft brewers have put their own spin on the style, focusing on big, bold hop flavors and aromas.

Some key characteristics of IPAs:

– Bitter, hoppy taste – IPAs get their signature flavor from abundant additions of hops during the brewing process. Hops provide bitterness to balance out the malty sweetness.

– High alcohol content – Most IPAs have an ABV between 6-7.5%. The booze helps accentuate the hoppy flavors.

– Fruity, citrusy aromas – Hops contain oils that impart tropical, berry, and citrus aromas and flavors to IPAs.

– Golden to copper color – IPAs get their hue mainly from pale malts. The shade can range from straw yellow to reddish amber.

– Medium body – Despite the bold flavors, IPAs tend toward a medium body and carbonation rather than being thick or heavy.

Are IPAs High in Carbs?

Now let’s get to the main question – are IPAs high in carbs and calories compared to other beer styles? The short answer is no. While IPAs do contain a fairly significant amount of carbs, they are lower in carbs than many other craft beer styles.

Most IPAs contain around 10-15 grams of carbs per 12oz serving:

– Lagunitas IPA – 14g carbs
– Bell’s Two Hearted Ale – 12g carbs
– Stone IPA – 16g carbs
– Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA – 13g carbs

For comparison, here are the carb counts for some other popular craft beer styles:

– Stouts: 20-30g carbs
– Double IPAs: 18-24g carbs
– Wheat beers: 15-22g carbs
– Pale ales: 12-18g carbs

So you can see that IPAs are on the lower end for carb content among craft beers. They have a similar amount of carbs as lighter beers like pale ales and blonde ales. However, they pack a much bigger hoppy punch than those lighter brews.

The main factors that impact a beer’s carb content are:

– Grain bill – More malt = more carbs. IPAs use mostly pale malts rather than higher carb dark or wheat malts.

– Alcohol percentage – Higher alcohol = more residual sugar and carbs after fermentation. IPAs have moderate alcohol for craft beers.

– Yeast type – Certain yeast strains eat up more malt sugars, creating drier, less sweet beers. IPA yeast strains tend toward good attenuation.

– Adjuncts – Adding rice, corn, or sugar will up the carbs. IPAs rarely contain these.

So while IPAs aren’t low-carb compared to wines or spirits, among beer styles they offer a nice compromise – all those delicious hop flavors for a modest carb cost.

IPA Nutrition Facts

Here is the full nutrition profile for a typical IPA:

Calories 170-210 per 12 oz
Carbohydrates 10-15 grams
ABV 6-7.5%
Protein 2 grams
Fat 0 grams

As you can see, the calories in IPAs largely come from the alcohol and carbs. Other than that, they have minimal protein and no fat.

The carbs make up a pretty sizeable percentage of the total calorie count. For comparison, here is the typical nutrition profile for light American lagers and ales:

Calories 100-140 per 12oz
Carbs 5-10g
ABV 4-5%
Protein 1g
Fat 0g

So IPAs come with about 50-70 extra calories and 5 more grams of carbs than light beers. It’s up to you whether you think that trade-off is worth it!

Tips for Drinking IPAs on a Low-Carb Diet

Here are some tips for enjoying IPAs without going overboard on carbs:

– Stick to one or two drinks max. The carbs add up fast with multiple beers.

– Try mini IPAs when available. Some breweries offer 5-7oz pours.

– Choose single IPAs over doubles. Doubles have nearly twice the carbs.

– Skip beer-battered apps and pair with low-carb snacks like wings.

– Drink IPAs at the end of the night so they fit into your carb limit.

– Switch to a low-carb cocktail or wine after a beer or two.

– Opt for IPAs with the lowest carb counts like Lagunitas, Dogfish Head 60 Minute, and Allagash White.

– Prioritize your carbs and cut back on other foods on days you drink IPAs.

– Look for low-carb IPAs. A few specialty ones have only 2-5g carbs.

– Sub in a vodka soda or tequila with soda after the first few IPAs.

The Best Low Carb IPAs

If limiting carbs is a priority, look for these low-carb IPA options:

– Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty IPA – 3.6g carbs
– Lagunitas Daytime IPA – 4g carbs
– Founders Solid Gold Lagered IPA – 4.2g carbs
– Bell’s Light Hearted Ale – 5g carbs
– Oskar Blues One-y IPA – 5g carbs

These IPAs minimize carbs by using alternative grains, more attenuation, and other methods while maintaining a full hop character.

You can also check out emerging options like:

– Athletic Run Wild IPA – 2g net carbs
– Sufferfest Repeat Kolsch – 3g net carbs
– Michelob Ultra Infusions Lime & Prickly Pear Cactus – 2.5g carbs

Just be aware that many low-carb IPAs sacrifice some body, alcohol, and hop flavor for the carb reduction. They aren’t exactly the same as full IPAs.

Making Your Own Low-Carb IPAs

If you homebrew, you can easily formulate lower carb IPA recipes. Here are some tips:

– Sub some pale malt for oat malt, rice hulls, or flaked wheat. They add mouthfeel without carbs.

– Use a highly attenuative yeast strain like White Labs 001 or Wyeast 1056.

– Limit crystal and cara malts to 2-5% of the grain bill. They add residual sweetness.

– Add amylase enzymes to increase attenuation.

– Mash at lower temp (148F) to create more fermentable wort.

– Use glucose or dextrose for bottle conditioning instead of maltodextrin.

– Dry hop heavily to mask the thinner body.

With the right recipe adjustments, you can brew crisp, hoppy low-carb IPAs at home. Play around and see what works for your tastes.

Other Low-Carb Beer Options

If you are really limiting carbs, IPAs may still be too high for your diet. Here are some other low-carb beer styles to consider instead:

– Light lagers – e.g. Michelob Ultra (2.6g), Miller 64 (2.4g)

– Low-carb pale ales – e.g. Dogfish Slightly Mighty (3.6g)

– Hard seltzers – Most around 1-2g carbs. Watch for spiked seltzers with added fruit juice.

– Light wheat beers – e.g. Widmer Hefeweizen Light (6g)

– Low-alcohol session beers – These often have fewer residual sugars.

– Gluten-free beers – Often made from sorghum which has fewer carbs than barley.

So if you are following keto or a very strict low-carb diet, you can likely still enjoy an occasional beer by picking the lowest carb options. Just know that truly low carb beers will lack the full body and alcohol content of IPAs and other craft styles. It’s about finding the right compromise.


IPAs are not high in carbs compared to many other beer styles, however they contain significantly more carbs and calories than light lagers, hard seltzers, and some specialty low-carb beers. Drinking IPAs in moderation, choosing lower carb variants, and pairing them with low-carb foods are good ways to enjoy them on a low-carb or keto diet. Just know that limiting yourself to 1-2 IPAs per drinking occasion is ideal if you are closely tracking carbs. Hopefully this article gave you a detailed breakdown of the carb and calorie content in IPAs, how they compare to other beers, and actionable tips for drinking them while limiting carbs. Now it’s time to crack open a fresh hoppy IPA and drink mindfully!

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