What's with all the IPA's?

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Newsman

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I'm just curious... it seems like the commercial breweries are mostly making IPA's of various forms. I, personally, am not a fan. To me, IPA's are a contest to see who can get the most bittering hops in a brew. I prefer something with a lot of flavor and mouth feel. But that's just my personal preference.
I'm curious if it's the breweries making the market or following the demand? What's the appeal in an IPA to you who prefer an IPA? Not trying to start a flame war about what style is better, I'm just curious.
 
IPA has always been a scattered style from its very inception. There were table beers or family ales of low ABV that were called IPA. The name itself was all over the place from Pale Ale Export to East India Pale Ale to Burton brewers, where the style was practically defined, who didn't even call their beer IPA at all. It was just Pale Ale to them. There were IPA's that were served mild and those that were aged for 12 months (or longer) with Brettanomyces before spending another 9+ months on board a ship traveling to their export destination. If I've learned anything studying beer styles throughout history is that styles evolve and change. Their popularity ebbs and flows while some disappear completely.
 
I'm just curious... it seems like the commercial breweries are mostly making IPA's of various forms. I, personally, am not a fan. To me, IPA's are a contest to see who can get the most bittering hops in a brew. I prefer something with a lot of flavor and mouth feel. But that's just my personal preference.
I'm curious if it's the breweries making the market or following the demand? What's the appeal in an IPA to you who prefer an IPA? Not trying to start a flame war about what style is better, I'm just curious.

Definitely "following" the market (for profit) and maybe "making" a new market
... numerous head brew masters at many local craft breweries said:
I brew IPAs [hazies, pastries, selzers, ...] to make a profit so I can brew the beers that I enjoy.
 
I love IPAs myself. English IPAs. West Coast IPAs. New England IPAs. Sour IPAs. Wild/Brett IPAs. Black IPAs, Double Dry-Hopped IPAs, IPLs, session IPAs, Rye IPAs (I just like saying Rye PAs), White IPAs, APAs (many of which are closer to IPAs than more traditional pale ales), Double IPAs, Triple IPAs, Belgian IPAs, Red IPAs, and on and on. I wouldn't say IPA is my favorite overall style. That'd probably go to sours (the sourer the better, with my favorites being Belgian styles like gueuzes and Flanders red ales). But IPAs are up there.

I remember 10 years ago tons of people asking why IPAs were popular too. I'd say that nowadays IPAs are on average WAY less bitter than they were 10 years ago. Everyone was putting out a 100 IBU IPA, and they'd often put something like "Theoretical 300 IBUs" or "Theoretical 250 IBUs" (since 100 is the flavor threshold after all). Some of them were honestly too much, but some of them were nicely balanced. As much as I love IPAs, my favorite hoppy styles tend to be more in the 30-50 IBU range, though I do really enjoy a lot of the super bitter ones when the elements have been nicely balanced. I've brewed quite a few 100 IBU double and triple IPAs myself.

And unlike my favorite style of beer, sours, IPAs tend to be extremely popular. I also tend to go for the really strange beers that use unusual ingredients or go for a very strange theme, but those are obviously not the kind that sell the best.
 
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Given the haze train is still in full swing, I'd be surprised if even 50% of the commercially brewed IPAs you see out and about exceed the bitterness of, well, English Bitters.
English Bitter is not a highly hopped or bitter beer. The name is a misnomer. They are in fact part of the Pale Ale family.
 
The fact is, beer and hops pair extremely well. Alcoholic fermentation is god's gift to man. Beer is even more of a gift. Then you have hops, which are yet another gift to man and beer alike. That's just the way it is. IPA is a style, yes, but you can pretty make anything imperial and throw in extra hops.

The commercial market is definitely failing by saturating the market with IPAs and light beers, but at least us homebrewers can brew the other gifts to man: Belgian beers, German beers, Scottish beers, English beers, funky/sour beers, steam beers, the list goes on. We need more of these on tap at bars and restaurants. I wish we had more of these.

There is no good conclusion. The beer industry is super swamped and highly competitive. IPAs have been selling very well for years now, so that 's what they sell. A lot of people, even people not accustomed to drinking beer, like a 6-8% hoppy IPA. Somehow they are complex enough for seasoned consumers yet easy for a lot of people to like.
 
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its just a faze . hopefully it will change soon. lol
i miss seeing beer in stores. like the OP hinted, lately in stores, sometimes the only thing other than BMC is IPA's
 
English Bitter is not a highly hopped or bitter beer. The name is a misnomer. They are in fact part of the Pale Ale family.
That was kind of my point.

Many commercial hazy IPAs have no bittering charge to speak of and derive all of their perceived bitterness from whirlpool or big dry hops. The point wasn't to suggest that bitters are bitter, it was to point out that contrary to the OP's post the vast majority of popular IPAs these days most definately aren't.

And that's totally fine. But if the OP is still expecting "the most bittering hops in a brew" to be characteristic of modern IPAs, he will find himself quite surprised by the current trends.
 
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lots of commercial IPAs are brewed to please the crowds, not necessarily for flavor or brewing excellence. I have judged IPA as a category and most of those beers were better than commercial examples.
That's not to say that professional brewers are not capable of excellence. In fact, some pro's target that niche end of the market for people who appreciate excellence and are willing to pay for it.

But, agree with your basic premise: with as many good other styles out there, it's frustrating to go to a pub and 80% of the menu is IPA. I like them, but I also like variety.
 
To me, IPA's are a contest to see who can get the most bittering hops in a brew.
For the most part, this stopped happening many years ago (2017-2019).
Then Hazys took over (little or no bitterness).
It is starting to creep back a little toward clear & bitter again…but Hazys are here to stay, too much love and too much demand.
 
There was a time before IPA’s were loved….

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Always an interesting topic, the love/hate IPA discussions. I have been brewing since 1990 and never got into the hop wars, didn't like them so I didn't drink nor make them. Not a fan of the hazies, virtually no malt to support the hop flavors and so much late addition you get the vegetal character. Just not for me but I see why they caught on. Probably one of the few things that keeps me brewing, I get to make and drink what I want. 80% of my beers are hoppy but a bit more mild mannered than an IPA, and hopefully more intersting than a typical Pale Ale in terms of hop flavor. I wish some of the breweries out there would put more attention on really nailing a Pale Ale, I don't want the alcohol levels and overall hop levels of most IPAs but don't care for "non hoppy" styles in geneeral. I just want balance.
 
Probably one of the few things that keeps me brewing, I get to make and drink what I want.
100%. I brew and enjoy hoppy styles. Pale Ales, IPAs, Hazy IPAs, Hazy Pale Ales, West Coast Pilsner, etc.

A fresh, well made hoppy beer on tap at home is wonderful! It is a style that does not package or age well. That 2 month old can sitting on the shelf at the store is likely stale. There are plenty of breweries in the area that make good IPAs, but that means $9 pints and driving or $20 4-packs and hoping the can is not too old and the canning line was dialed in.

I agree that it can be hard to find a good 5% hoppy beer on tap. Often "Pale Ales" are DDH, 6.3% and hazy. I love me a classic American Pale Ale. I also really like a Hazy Pale Ale (a style I almost never see here in the US, but was plentiful on a recent trip to New Zealand). I am also really enjoying the hoppy lager styles such as West Coast Pilsner or New Zealand Pilsner. Or just a hoppy Blonde Ale.

As a homebrewer, it can be fun to play around with all the new hop varieties. It is also fun to brew beers with the classic American hops.
 
I personally think that "Session hazy IPAs", as lower ABV hazy pales are typically called around here, are probably one of the hardest styles to nail. Getting the right balance of sweetness, underlying bitterness and fruity hops on a beer 4.5% and below and still having it "pop" is fiendishly difficult.
 
I personally think that "Session hazy IPAs", as lower ABV hazy pales are typically called around here, are probably one of the hardest styles to nail. Getting the right balance of sweetness, underlying bitterness and fruity hops on a beer 4.5% and below and still having it "pop" is fiendishly difficult.
Agreed. "Session" IPAs are one of my favorite styles and I feel there are far too few of them. I know a few good commercial 4.5% hazy IPAs, but I don't know many session IPAs of any category below that. I have found a few West Coast IPAs around 3.3%, 3.5%, and 3.8% ABV that are crisp, hoppy, and have a nice bite, but they tend to be pretty rare. The local liquor store stopped carrying one of my favorites in that category.

Recently I've been making recipes of West Coast IPAs and New English IPAs that are in the "Under 4% ABV" category such as a recent hazy IPA that comes out to around 3.8% ABV with 51 IBUs and a massive massive amount of whirlpool and dry hops (Citra, Centennial, and Galaxy used in both).
 
It's because they sell. All the local breweries by me say IPA sells 3x the amount of their other beer. Granted, they are seeing a shift, as more and more drinkers are going back to lager. That's been my personal journey the last 7 years. I couldn't brew enough IPA and now I'm brewing lagers and lighter beer 90% of the time.
 
Shoot, around me its all sours and seltzers. I dont understand why a tap house is wasting available taps on those. The customers who order them wouldnt know the difference if they came from a can. You can tell a good sour though, because it tastes like heartburn in a glass. 🤣
 
"Mild" just doesn't seem like it would ever take off. I wouldn't mind seeing it though

It's a bit of long-running, rather stupid joke. No, mild (as Gordon Strong wants us to define it) will never take off. Not in a million years! Fortunately, I'm a forbearing man.

Nevertheless, from a certain perspective it could be accurately stated that the rebellion against fizzy yellow swill harkened in the second golden age of mild ale--if only we could burn at the stake those filthy heretics with their unhygienic barrels and their nasty bugs. Almost all IPAs are, from a certain perspective, mild ales.

But that's hairsplitting sophistry BS.
 
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All of the signs and portents are coming into alignment, brother, the Dawning of the Age of Mild is upon us! Walk the warm, flat, and weak path or perish in the dark flames of Mild's righteous wrath!!!

Someone's been spending a bit too much time on Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.
 
All of the signs and portents are coming into alignment, brother, the Dawning of the Age of Mild is upon us! Walk the warm, flat, and weak path or perish in the dark flames of Mild's righteous wrath!!!
I could see mild getting some traction but the US it would be 6.8% ABV and double dry hopped.

Brewing another 4%-ish mild has been on my to-brew list for a while. It really is an easy to brew beer that tastes great any time of the year.
 
Well, you're entitled to your opinion, no matter how wrong it is! 😋
We've been brewing mild ales for 40 years, off and on, but it's our main beer. We up the hops at times and vary from light to very dark, but still 4% ABV at best. That's why we can drink 2 liters a piece each day and not worry about side-effects. Tastes absolutely fine to us and our friends. Don't fear it will go away.
 
I'm just curious... it seems like the commercial breweries are mostly making IPA's of various forms. I, personally, am not a fan. To me, IPA's are a contest to see who can get the most bittering hops in a brew. I prefer something with a lot of flavor and mouth feel. But that's just my personal preference.
I'm curious if it's the breweries making the market or following the demand? What's the appeal in an IPA to you who prefer an IPA? Not trying to start a flame war about what style is better, I'm just curious.
The days of IBU bombs are mostly long gone (thank GOD) I love a good semi old Skool West Coast IPA (caramunich instead of crystal, reasonable bittering IBUs, 6.5% ABV ish, touch of citra w the old skool skunk)
Hazys completely changed the IPA game in a good way IMO.
 
I feel sorry for anyone who lives where the store shelves are still dominated by IBU wars IPAs. I have no trouble finding nice fresh local 5-ish% ABV/45-ish IBU WCIPAs around here. And plenty of lagers, porters, brown ales, etc. I don't buy much of it because I brew more than I can drink anyway.
 
I feel sorry for anyone who lives where the store shelves are still dominated by IBU wars IPAs. I have no trouble finding nice fresh local 5-ish% ABV/45-ish IBU WCIPAs around here. And plenty of lagers, porters, brown ales, etc. I don't buy much of it because I brew more than I can drink anyway.
I'm swimming in IPA options here in Socal so I brew everything but, but when I do, it's a low-ish abv WCIPA as well.
 
Over the years I grew Chinook, Cascade and Centennial and was freezing 10-12 pounds of dried flower each year the global thermonuclear hop war was a blessed era for me as my lupulin shift went orbital. I still loves me a good 100 IBU wcipa :rock:

Cheers!
I'm with you, man. Aside from the high FGs and dumb amounts of C-malts, I really miss those IBU Wars beers. [Edit: More accurately, the pre-IBU Wars beers.]

Then, as now, I like getting my IBUs on at 1.045. When your FG is sub-1.010, the hops properly hit. There's no cloying high gravity, no booziness to obstruct them. It's just tongue, brain, arghlebargleymwaaaaahnumnumnum hop buzz.

Yum.
 
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Clearly they’ve been brewing them with crack as I’ve been brewing for 13 years and have slowly gravitated (myself and my wife) towards them, it accounts for maybe 95% of our yearly beer consumption. Maybe it’s all of those awesome hop oils shared by their sister plants? I’ve wondered this…
 

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