They're emulating our beer culture now, and it's kind of awkward. 🍺
March 22, 2015 10:17 AM   Subscribe

How the West Coast-Style IPA Conquered the World - by Erin Mosbaugh, First We Feast:
"While many notable beers emerged from this scene—Ballast Point Sculpin, Alesmith IPA—few had the influence of Green Flash's flagship West Coast IPA. By trademarking the term in 2011 and emblazoning it across bottles in giant letters, the brewery effectively codified the regionality of the style and made it instantly recognizable to drinkers across the country (and beyond). Eagle Rock Brewery's Jeremy Raub explains, 'Green Flash West Coast IPA was a really over-the-top double IPA, which was the brewery's way to say, 'This is how we do it on the West Coast.' It was just over 8% ABV, resinous, and hoppy. It had more malt body, and it was 'dank,' as people like to call it."
"With the name becoming synonymous with that dank, almost weedlike aroma, brewers from coast to coast began naming beers West Coast IPAs, even if wasn't a style defined by the Brewers Association. 'I can't put my finger on an exact year, but if I had to guess, I would say the West Coast-style IPA really took off around 2010 for the mainstream consumer,' says Cilurzo. That was the fateful year that Cilurzo and his team poured 40 kegs of Pliny the Younger, the brewery's triple IPA, in 8 hours."
See also at the end of the article: "40 Years of Influence: 10 Beers That Define the West Coast-Style IPA".
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (95 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also interesting is the rise of the East Coast-style IPA, the well-balanced Vermont-style beers loaded with hop flavor but not overwhelming bitterness, typified by Heady Topper and some of the stuff coming out of Tired Hands.

It's a (delicious) backlash rooted firmly in the dominance of the West Coast style.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:20 AM on March 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I learned to love IPAs in San Francisco with Racer 5, but double- and triple-IPAs are too much. These days I'm a fan of Founder's All Day.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:27 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The article notes the 1994 first ever Double IPA was the dawn of the American craft-beer scene’s “bigger is better” ethos. That's just about the time of the peak "bigger is better" American winemaking, too; adding oak chips to Chardonnay barrels and pushing red wines to 15% alcohol. Fortunately the wine industry has grown up now and realizes more is not always better. I keep hoping the overly hopped IPA trend dies down too.

We've had this conversation a few times before on Metafilter. One thing I've taken away from it is the IBU measurement, a standardized scale of bitterness. Another thing I took away is part of why the IPA style is popular with brewers is the A; everything else being equal, it's more cost efficient to make an ale than a lager.

I'm fascinated to see how the American microbrews do in Germany. I love drinking German beer in Germany, clean and simple and fresh. Also nice that your only choice is which bierhall you go into and then "dunkles oder helles" (or if it's summer, maybe "weizen"). But if I lived there year round I could see finding that boring and enjoy the novelty of American beer diversity.
posted by Nelson at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


The article notes the 1994 first ever Double IPA was the dawn of the American craft-beer scene’s “bigger is better” ethos. That's just about the time of the peak "bigger is better" American winemaking, too; adding oak chips to Chardonnay barrels and pushing red wines to 15% alcohol. Fortunately the wine industry has grown up now and realizes more is not always better. I keep hoping the overly hopped IPA trend dies down too.

I hope (almost wrote hop there) so to. I have seen some promise. The new local brewery here started with a lot of hoppy beers, but has since moved on to things like stouts and sours.
posted by zabuni at 10:38 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I generally skip anything labeled "double" or "triple," but I love what is probably a basic west coast ipa, like Full Sail or Bridgeport. I haven't had enough east coast ipas to know how they compare.

I tried the Pliny stuff last year after reading about it here, and it was remarkably underwhelming.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:39 AM on March 22, 2015


Ballast Point Sculpin, Alesmith IPA—few had the influence of Green Flash's flagship West Coast IPA

All three of these breweries are within about 10 minutes of each other. I never really thought about it, but San Diego really is California's IPA epicenter.
posted by sideshow at 10:41 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I keep hoping the overly hopped IPA trend dies down too.

It kind of has. Lower-alcohol session IPAs had a huge resurgence last summer, and goses are the new hotness. Most beer nerds I know (and I know a LOT of beer nerds) see the whole palate-slaughtering quadzuple IPA thing as being played out and kinda tacky.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:42 AM on March 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I tried the Pliny stuff last year after reading about it here, and it was remarkably underwhelming.

How old was it? Pliny that's two days old, or Pliny from the tap in Santa Rosa is a pretty different beer than Pliny that is two months old. Or, Pliny that has been through the mail and has been sitting out of the fridge or weeks.

Then again that's true of most IPAs though. Drink local.

All three of these breweries are within about 10 minutes of each other. I never really thought about it, but San Diego really is California's IPA epicenter.

Yep, plus there's Stone, which I would make the case for being the most influential/important San Diego area brewery, at least in the IPA world.

You could also make a case for Santa Rosa and Petaluma, too... Russian River and Lagunitas are pretty important breweries and about 15 minutes of each other.
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:46 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want the exact opposite of what is considered "good" in beers. I want a refreshing beer that's not at all bitter and gives me a light buzz, but I can have several and still only be lightly tipsy. I do like that beer menus frequently show ABV now so I can find the 4% wheat beer.
posted by justkevin at 10:54 AM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been fascinated lately by the Rogue Farms project and the beers they've produced from it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:55 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Shopping at my local (Oakland) Safeway this morning, I noticed that nearly half of the craft beers on offer in the extensive beer aisle were IPA or IPA-adjacent styles. While I love a good hoppy beer, I started worrying that we were heading towards some sort of IPA event horizon where it becomes economically impossible to brew anything else.

So I'm glad to hear Itaxpica say that the vanguard is moving away from this particular arms race.
posted by turbowombat at 10:57 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lower-alcohol session IPAs had a huge resurgence last summer, and goses are the new hotness.

As a long time pale ale drinker, I feel like there's a sort of rebranding going on with some of the beers on the Pale Ale/IPA line because... I dunno, IPA is a hot term. For example, when 21st amendment rebooted Bitter American as Down to Earth they decided it was a "session IPA".

I want a refreshing beer that's not at all bitter and gives me a light buzz

I want this too, except that I'm OK with bitterness. Thus my goldilocks zone being beers like Stone Go To IPA and Lagunitas Daytime. But you might try something like Breckinridge Avalanche, that is well liked by some around my parts when it can be found.
posted by selfnoise at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


How the West Coast-Style IPA Conquered the World

and yet it didn't conquer me and I've been here the whole time. Or more to the point, I prefer the earlier, less hoppie stuff.
posted by philip-random at 11:07 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It kind of has. Lower-alcohol session IPAs had a huge resurgence last summer, and goses are the new hotness.

As featured at Borefts last year, which is always a trendsetter for new hot beer styles.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:15 AM on March 22, 2015


I'll admit that when I go microbrew, IPA's (from either coast) are my go-to.
posted by jonmc at 11:16 AM on March 22, 2015


The fact that no one has yet named one of these new fancy goses "There Is A Light That Never Gose Out" is a continual source of disappointment for me.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:17 AM on March 22, 2015 [18 favorites]


The chili-eating contest quote is more apt than mere analogy. The popularity co-factor for IPA is Asian or spicy food, which goes uncredited in retelling the tale of East Indian British origins of pale ale (specifically, hops used mainly as a shipping preservative in the local heat).
posted by Brian B. at 11:21 AM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've been fascinated lately by the Rogue Farms project and the beers they've produced from it.

Totally agree with this. Rogue often gets looked down on because their marketing is obnoxious and their gimmicky gross donut/hot sauce/REBEL BREWER PUBES beers suck up a disproportionate amount of the airspace that's devoted to them, but I've really liked everything I've tasted coming out of the Rogue Farms project.

I often want to feel like I'm chewing on different types of pine needles during beer-thirty and have a weakness for a huge hop bomb once in a while. But as the market has gotten increasingly glutted with mediocre IPAs and pales, I have really appreciated the breweries who have done releases based on freshness (the Stone Drink Bys are great) or wet hop/single hop releases. While I agree that IPAs and pales shouldn't dominate to the exclusion of other styles, I do appreciate that the late stages of the craze show some signs of evolving past "Here, we threw a ton of hops in this" towards a focus on what makes the style good.

As far as relatively restrained, balanced pale ales go, Deschutes Mirror Pond is terrific.
posted by superfluousm at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tend to avoid IPAs entirely these days, since so many of them are pretty much one-note wonders. Kind of like the way American dog breeders have ruined many breeds, American brewers have ruined the IPA. I am sure it will recover in time.

We probably need a standards committee to go around executing brewers and marketing staffs though. Once the IPA is so played out no one will buy one, the next move will be do make everything incredibly sour. Or, possibly, just sell bottles of chocolate hot sauce as "beer."
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


The fact that no one has yet named one of these new fancy goses "There Is A Light That Never Gose Out"

Steady As She Gose
Let It Gose
Here I Gose Again
There She Gose Again
As Time Gose By
Love Grows (With My Rosemary Gose)
The Wheels On The Bus Gose Round And Round

... and so on.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:54 AM on March 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


... and so on.

Pronunciation guide for English speakers.
posted by effbot at 11:59 AM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am not at all a beer snob and mainly pick my beers based on how pretty the labels look, but one of the best beers I've ever had was a double IPA in Dublin called "Of Foam and Fury". The sharp, assertive floral and caramel notes and the 8% ABV were perfectly tempered by the bitterness. No aspect of that beer was unpleasant or overpowering. Every element just worked perfectly together, even if it hit you a little strong.

After having that perfect drink, I realized looking back that pretty much every well-regarded double IPA immediately perked up my ears in the same way. A good double IPA isn't a background beer. It's a drink that makes a statement, that compels you to pay attention. A beer with an identity.

So I think the beer hipsters might be onto something.
posted by archagon at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


But if I lived there year round I could see finding that boring and enjoy the novelty of American beer diversity.

...or take a quick trip over to Belgium?

Then again that's true of most IPAs though. Drink local.

Anecdatum, but I kept a can of Heady Topper in my fridge for a month and a half. When I finally drank it, it was fine, recognizably Heady Topper, but not the FLAVOR EXPLOSION of a fresh can.

... and so on.

So It Gose
posted by A dead Quaker at 12:11 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pliny from the tap in Santa Rosa

*hollow laugh* My experience, from a couple of visits: unless you hit it mid-afternoon on a weekday, it's basically impossible to get served at Russian River. The place is always a jam-packed zoo evenings and weekends.

(I also found Pliny "so what's all the fuss about?" underwhelming; much preferred their Belgian and sour styles.)

I lean more towards double IPAs than singles, not necessarily for OMG-all-the-hops but also because the doubles tend to have a lot more malt body to counterbalance the bitterness.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:14 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


If no one names a gose "The Destructor" I will be sorely disappointed.
posted by asterix at 12:14 PM on March 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


How old was it? Pliny that's two days old, or Pliny from the tap in Santa Rosa is a pretty different beer than Pliny that is two months old. Or, Pliny that has been through the mail and has been sitting out of the fridge or weeks.

Then again that's true of most IPAs though. Drink local.


A local place coincidentally got a keg of it the same week I read about the popularity of it in a comment here, so I went over and had a pint. It was ok beer, perfectly drinkable though not as crisp as I prefer, but definitely nothing that I would dream of standing in line for.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:25 PM on March 22, 2015


Oh, yeah- the pub at Russian River is a zoo.

But, you only have to wait in line about 5-10 minutes at most to get a growler to go. 64 ounces of goodness to take home instead.

And when you buy Pliny bottles there at the pub, they are usually a few days old, at most.
posted by Old Man McKay at 12:26 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah. So Green Flash is who I blame.
posted by shmegegge at 12:26 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


...or take a quick trip over to Belgium?

too soon
posted by thelonius at 12:29 PM on March 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


A good double IPA isn't a background beer. It's a drink that makes a statement, that compels you to pay attention. A beer with an identity.

there's an awful lot of ground between background beer and an ale with so much hop action it makes you grimace. I've likened this particular tasting issue to single malt whiskeys in the past. Just because it's a single malt doesn't mean it has to taste like it spent fourteen years in the bottom of a boot that was buried in a peat bog. And if you do need a taste that intense, I would recommend you calm down, be nicer to your palate. You're missing a lot.
posted by philip-random at 12:30 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love when white people fight over their use of "India".

West coast IPA vs. East Coast IPA vs. worldwide IPA

Yeah. How dare they take away your use of West Coast IPA. How presumptive and whats that word people use nowadays? Appropriating.

To be fair, it was a british style beer brewed to not get stank cuz of the hot temps in India.

stank.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:47 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I personally don't love the uber-bitter IPAs, but I don't mind them either. I mean, your typical red wine is more intense in flavor and alcohol content than even a double IPA, and yet nobody complains about how you have to be "nice to your palate" and how it's not "sessionable" if you enjoy it with your dinner. Or how about tea? Are you "missing a lot" if you brew yourself a tannic cup of darjeeling?

I would have never agreed when I was younger, but sometimes bitter is a nice flavor.
posted by archagon at 12:48 PM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love when white people fight over their use of "India".

West coast IPA vs. East Coast IPA vs. worldwide IPA

Yeah. How dare they take away your use of West Coast IPA. How presumptive and whats that word people use nowadays? Appropriating.


not sure if serious

That's the first time I've heard a check-your-privilege argument related to the American use of a beer name that originated in Britain named as a descriptor for the target sales locale.

Living in San Diego from 2003 to 2008 was a great way to experience the west coast beer explosion first hand. I'm happy that lower alcohol and hop ales are gaining ground, but I'm glad these hop monsters can still be found. Variety is the spice of beer!
posted by Existential Dread at 12:55 PM on March 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


sometimes bitter is a nice flavor

Bitter is an awesome flavor. But it needs other flavors to develop it. When American breweries decided that the goal was to brew a beer that tasted like getting hit in the mouth with a sock full of hops-flavored sand, they went down a bad road. They traded depth for breadth, as it were. It's kind of like the people who think that the perfect hot sauce is one were you can only taste a little vinegar behind the burning -- no thanks, I'd like a little more complexity, thanks.

On the other hand, if you like these beers, more power to you; de gustibus non est disputandum, and all that. I can find plenty to drink, although I wish it was a little easier.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:11 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pubs in London are serving Stone IPA, and new-school UK brewers are emulating the West Coast IPA’s hop-forward character.

There has been a bit of an explosion of breweries in the UK, up from about 1000 in 2012 to 1300 currently. Unlike the US this was building on a much more well established culture of real ale which covers some parts of the country. This existing culture was not and is not rooted in ridiculously macho 8% IPAs, it is considerably more diverse. The expansion of breweries, so far as I can tell, has diversified the ales that are available.

There has historically been a pretty significant variation in what gets drunk where in the UK. I used to live in Coventry in the Midlands and you wouldn't see a lot of real ale served there. I now live in Cornwall and a pub without real ale would be an ex-pub pretty quickly. So while Cornwall has seen an expansion in new brewers no one talks about craft beer since the new additions are simply adding to an existing culture. I can access some of the stuff labelled as craft beer, including some of the US craft beers, but their appeal is pretty limited since they are not competitive with the local stuff and don't really offer anything different on the taste front and of course the are bottled as opposed to fresh from the cask. As I say, there are areas of the UK with little ale tradition and I wonder whether the craft beers are making more gains there, and are more noticeable for their distinction from the status quo.

My policy is to buy local on environmental grounds unless I really fancy something different anyway, but it is great to live somewhere where I don't feel that really restricts my options and where the market is mature enough that it caters to a wider range of tastes. Good luck to you all in getting the same.
posted by biffa at 1:19 PM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


> Bitter is an awesome flavor. But it needs other flavors to develop it. When American breweries decided that the goal was to brew a beer that tasted like getting hit in the mouth with a sock full of hops-flavored sand, they went down a bad road. They traded depth for breadth, as it were. It's kind of like the people who think that the perfect hot sauce is one were you can only taste a little vinegar behind the burning -- no thanks, I'd like a little more complexity, thanks.

On the other hand, uber-bitter IPAs didn't become popular — immensely popular — because they tasted bad. This is too big to just be a trend: many people really do prefer the taste. And it's not like bitterness is orthogonal to complexity. The depth is in the flavor of the hops.

Personally, I felt the same way about espresso the first time I tasted it. The predominant flavor was overwhelming, mouth-sucking bitterness. But the more I tried it, the more I started to enjoy it. There's a ton of concentrated flavor behind the pain.

(Though for my own personal beer preferences, as I said, I agree with you.)
posted by archagon at 1:20 PM on March 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


> I can access some of the stuff labelled as craft beer, including some of the US craft beers, but their appeal is pretty limited since they are not competitive with the local stuff and don't really offer anything different on the taste front and of course the are bottled as opposed to fresh from the cask.

Have you seen BrewDog's blog post on craft beer vs. real ale? I haven't been in the UK long enough to make any definitive statements, but I've discovered some really great beers in the craft bottle shops here. And yes — the pub real ale is fantastic as well, but it's a little harder to find that kind of crazy, indie, wall-of-colorful-labels beer variety in the pubs as opposed to the craft shops, I've found.
posted by archagon at 1:27 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ah, green flash. Y'all know what that comes from, right? It's an astronomical term for the phenomenon where, as the sun is setting and it gets all wobbly, sometimes a bit of the disk appears to detach and flashes green. Like over the ocean...on the west coast...
posted by sexyrobot at 1:32 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dry hopping is a major contributor to IPA qualities, adding a grassy fresh hop flavor to the back of the tongue to balance the bitterness on the tip of the tongue which comes from boiling the acids out of hops. Dry hopping exposes the beer to dried hops at late stages without heat.
posted by Brian B. at 1:38 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


This was a really interesting read, thanks. I also like the link with a post by dogfish head's brewer that traced his journey as a beer maker.
posted by lownote at 2:02 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nah, Dunlop.

Have you seen BrewDog's blog post on craft beer vs. real ale?

I scanned through it. I have to say I disagree with a lot of the generalisations they make about real ales and their lack of diversity and smacks of trying to sell the idea they are a bit cooler than the status quo, but again, I live somewhere where even the bog standard places will have three good ales, the good places will have a stout or porter, a pale ale, etc and they are drunk by younger as well as older people. Most places have draught cider as well as bottled. The new brewers that have opened up are often quite young guys and aren't afraid to build on traditional lines to expand the market, so for example, one local brewer I know of was set up by 2 guys in their early twenties, they now have an IPA, some tasty session beers, some traditional stuff like 80 shilling and then some experimental stuff like dark or spiced wheat beers, plus a stronger than I would normally touch chocolate vanilla stout that is delicious. Interestingly their website sells these as craft even though I have never seen them sold under this label anywhere else.

To be honest I think the effort to put craft beer and real ale in opposing corners is a bit bullshitty. Some of the craft beers are really good and I am lucky enough to have a specialist bar ten minutes walk away (I just looked it up, the Guardian says it is in the UK top 10), but the price differential in a market with good alternatives tends to put me off being a regular there - it often seems like you are paying the price of a decent pint for a 330ml bottle. Where there are less good alternatives that might make them a worthwhile option on a more regular basis. As it is its a good place to drop into occasionally, and it is good to have a wide choice of stuff, though in my case lots of choice always pushes me to drink stout all night. (Siren Broken Dreams oatmeal breakfast stout and Harbour Porter when we were there last Friday).

I feel like I am being a bit defensive, I think I just object to craft beer being sold as a revolution of some kind in the UK when from my perspective it doesn't look like anything of the sort. I have no objection to actually drinking it.
posted by biffa at 2:09 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


First We Feast:

OK, but what's the Moral -- that we're all Key - uh, hopheads now?

Better than Bog Myrtle, I guess.
posted by jamjam at 2:18 PM on March 22, 2015


This thread has made me realise all I have drunk today is a cup of coffee, 3 pints of Tribute (lunchtime footie on pub TV) and a bottle of stout later in the afternoon, so make mine water.
posted by biffa at 2:19 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


uber-bitter IPAs didn't become popular — immensely popular — because they tasted bad. This is too big to just be a trend: many people really do prefer the taste.

But they do require those people to have a palate that has developed to the point where Sierra Nevada Pale Ale tastes unchallenging. Personally, I'm not there, nor am I likely to be, which means that I get my IPA fix from those early pioneering beers. However, it also means that I encounter plenty of pale ales and brown ales and "English-style bitters" that start at a higher baseline of bitterness to accommodate those drinkers who now perceive 30 IBU as a gaping hole where the hops should be.
posted by holgate at 2:20 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


uber-bitter IPAs didn't become popular — immensely popular — because they tasted bad.

you realize, people have said much the same about Transformer movies ...
posted by philip-random at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


IPAs are the mass-produced corner store white bread of the beer world.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:33 PM on March 22, 2015


Based on my sample size of one, I really hope gose's are not the new hotness
posted by piyushnz at 2:34 PM on March 22, 2015


Have you seen BrewDog's blog post on craft beer vs. real ale?

No, but knowing Brewdog it will be a godawful piece of clickbait agitprop. They don't play well with others.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:35 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm getting tired of the whining about IPAs. It's not like most brewpubs have only one kind of beer on tap or that the liquor store only stocks Sierra Nevada Torpedo. If the bitterness doesn't suit you there's always something else.

Last night I had a Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison. Tonight I'll have a Bells Two-Hearted Ale. Variety is the spice of life folks.
posted by Ber at 2:47 PM on March 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


Based on my sample size of one, I really hope gose's are not the new hotness

Seriously. The Alstrom Brothers got no clothes on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:51 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


IPAs are the mass-produced corner store white bread of the beer world.

In an industry where Bud Light is still king?
posted by peeedro at 2:51 PM on March 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


If the bitterness doesn't suit you there's always something else.

I'm sort of with holgate on this one - I think the expectation for a craft beer is that it will besomewhat bitter and hoppy, even if it isn't an IPA with a grating pun on "hop" in the name. I personally find the strong flavor of hops to be very off-putting, and when I've had beer-lover friends recommend alternatives - like saisons - they're still more hoppy and bitter than what I'm looking for. And thanks to my many beer-snob friends (and my fiancee who brews her own from time to time), I've tried quite a few - it's all too bitter for me.

It may be that I just have horrible taste in beer, which is certainly what I was told the last time there was a thread on MeFi about beer ("sure, if you like watery, tasteless crap these beers will be too strong for you"). Still, I think there are overall trends and expectations in American craft beers that tend towards the very bitter, hoppy side of things, at least in part because of the continuing popularity of IPAs. It may be that this is changing for the better, but as the minority here, it does at least seem like there's more ground to be covered in the less bitter/hoppy direction.

Of course I don't drink alcohol anymore (for health reasons), so for me this is sadly more of a hypothetical than anything else. Now I'm just praying for the day that there's a good non-alcoholic beer that doesn't taste like it was brewed by ferrets.
posted by teponaztli at 2:57 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm definitely more into Pale Ale types lately than IPAs. My current favorite is Victory's Headwaters Pale Ale.
posted by octothorpe at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not like most brewpubs have only one kind of beer on tap

I've been to brewpubs where it was almost exclusively IPAs plus one or two token alternatives, neither particularly interesting. So no, it's not only one type, but since in some circles IPA is considered to be what "real beer lovers" drink, it can be disproportionally represented. Now, I avoid this problem by not going back to those places, but it's happened to me more than once.

I'm not a complete IPA hater. I'll drink them when I'm in the mood. But that mood isn't particularly frequent for me.
posted by primethyme at 3:05 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the expectation for a craft beer is that it will besomewhat bitter and hoppy

While I recognize that this is true in practice for many people, it makes me want to encourage y'all to push for better access to craft beers. I am completely spoiled in that my regular bar is the Trappist, and the range of non-IPA craft beers they serve is amazing. A few of the non-hop-bomb beers I've tried and enjoyed recently: Mikkeller Raspberries & Cream (really nice; not very sweet; the raspberries add an interesting funkiness to it), Cellarmaker Rye Be Bitter (quite sessionable), Moonlight Brewing Toast (Slightly Burnt) (delicious).
posted by Lexica at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2015


Just noticed the emoji in IE on my laptop is straight glass but in chrome on my nexus its handle glass. This is where the true schism lies!
posted by biffa at 3:20 PM on March 22, 2015


I didn't like IPAs 20 years ago when they were fairly uncommon.

I'm not sure where this puts me on the hipster scale.
posted by GuyZero at 4:26 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan of the overly happy PNW IPA's or the overly sweet, complex ales that are also popular in N America. Luckily in Victoria BC there is a trend to brew crisp Kolsch and pilsners. That makes me happy.
posted by Nevin at 4:34 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm on Untappd and have discovered to my surprise that I gravitate towards the DIPAs; here is a list of my top-rated Imperial/DIPAs. So I hope they don't stop making them!

Having said, that I had a Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale the other day that really impressed me - it had a lot of flavor for a low ABV.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:47 PM on March 22, 2015


I like the PA craft scene, plenty of brewers doing the hoppy IPA and other modern American craft stuff but also a lot of little gems specializing in traditional German or English styles. And at least in Philly, Belgian imports and Belgian style beers all over the place. For somebody who likes a little of everything, there aren't many better places to drink beer.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have encountered so many over-hopped IPA's with the bouquet of a tire smoldering in a junkyard fire that I refuse to even try them anymore. And no, I don't think I'm missing anything...
posted by jim in austin at 6:21 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ew, an acquired taste?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:47 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pronunciation guide for English speakers.

Gose, I sez.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:07 PM on March 22, 2015


Like peppers, like BBQ, in trendy foods (and I would definitely call craft beers trendy) there is a trick to finding the things that simply give you pleasure amongst the things that are being done as part of some macho more-intense contest. Endless BBQ arguments over pork vs. beef and various kind of rubs bore me; I just want to eat it, if it's good, I give not the smallest fuck what kind it is. I don't get the eating-super-hot-peppers thing except as a contest/some kind of edge experience thing, because how can you taste anything, really, except the heat? And "heat" is not that interesting a flavor to me, even aside from the pain factor.

Likewise with hoppiness. I don't object to it on principal, different strokes and all, but I get the distinct impression there's a lot of rah-rah masculinity performance going on with it for some folks, instead of an actual search for a good beer. I have gotten the side eye once or twice for asking for non-hoppy beers, I could hear the guy thinking "Oh, typical chick, can't take the real beers." Thankfully, around here there are lots of folks making different kinds of beers these days so IPA isn't the only thing available.
posted by emjaybee at 7:16 PM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't get the eating-super-hot-peppers thing except as a contest/some kind of edge experience thing, because how can you taste anything, really, except the heat?

It's a delayed reaction, Habaneros have a really delicious citrusy flavor until a second or so later when the burn hits. And then it's about the endorphins.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:19 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I don't really see the overemphasis on hoppiness thing as a manliness test, plain old Bud is a stereotypical man's drink, but an overreaction to...well...Bud. People sick of the old bland stuff swinging wildly in the other direction even though when poorly executed an IPA can be just as one note as any macro lager. It's always intense though, and some people crave intensity more than subtlety.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:24 PM on March 22, 2015


Likewise with hoppiness. I don't object to it on principal, different strokes and all, but I get the distinct impression there's a lot of rah-rah masculinity performance going on with it for some folks, instead of an actual search for a good beer.

Huh? If that's the case, why bother with beer when you can drink seriously bitter stuff?
posted by effbot at 7:39 PM on March 22, 2015


I'm confused. I was assured that we had reached peak IPA, and they would recede quietly into the past, like Christians, or Republicans.
posted by talking leaf at 7:41 PM on March 22, 2015


re biffa's comment: Boak and Bailey's Brew Britannia is a very good history of brewing in the UK, covering the rise of CAMRA in reaction to keg beer, the emergence and persistence of smaller brewers in reaction to consolidation, and ends by looking at how a new generation of brewers take inspiration from across the pond, and, in the case of the gobshites at Brewdog, adopt a brash and bellicose public persona. That's to say, high IBU and ABV has become a marker of American rebelliousness and disdain for tradition among non-American brewers, which I'm sure is a selling point to their target market: it's not your dad's pint. (They've got people paying a a fiver for a half in London, which is a commercial victory of sorts.)
posted by holgate at 8:13 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gobshites aside, they do make some mighty fine beer.
posted by archagon at 8:32 PM on March 22, 2015


You threw in multiple additions of every hop starting with C and now it tastes like a pine cone soaked in kerosene?

∠( ᐛ 」∠)_

Tell me more about what an awesome brewer you are
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The hops in IPA was put there so the beer could survive the hot boat trip to India. These beers are getting ready for the trip to Mars.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:47 PM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


The two best IPAs I've ever tried are not from the west coast.

Gandhi Bot

Sip of Sunshine
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:00 PM on March 22, 2015


Stunt beers, stunt foods, ugh. Great flavours are great. Cranking it to eleven or Tim the Toolman Taylor-ing it takes a great thing and makes it worse. I say leave the stunts to skateboarders: let great brews be great sans stunt.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]




Cool glassware, where's it from?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:44 PM on March 22, 2015


These fellas, by Spiegelau; a total fussing-over-your-beer indulgence, amazingly thin.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:48 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nice, cheers back at ya.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:56 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you're going to have a beer glass, have it Japanese.
posted by armage at 12:40 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Itaxpica -- props for the Tired Hands shout-out. All their stuff is consistently amazing.

Also, I was surprised there was no mention of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale. I know it's not "west coast" and hopped with Centennial not Cascade but I remember this beer being a turning point (definitely for me), with what at the time seemed like an unbelievably huge citrus/floral hops level.
posted by Vitamaster at 4:31 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interesting to read the history of the west coast style IPA. I had no idea it went back so far!
I like strong west coast IPAs. Had no problem getting a seat at the bar at Russian River for happy hour when I was there. The amount of drink driving in California was a real eye opener.

I was struck by the similarity between the (supposedly) old recipe Hitachino nest ale and modern west coast style IPAs. Apparently the Japanese were doing it in the 1600's. Probably just a marketing thing.

This article is good on the past, but not so good on the present, and I am far from being an expert. Low percentage, high flavour west coast style IPAs have been popular for years in the UK. Brew Dog are OK, I have had some nice beer at their pubs, but the ubiquitous Punk IPA is one note tedium. There are plenty of other breweries that put out fantastic brews. I can get three different types of Earl Grey IPA at Beer-Ritz. They are all good.

We have had a new beer shop* appear in Leeds which apparently has 200 varieties and is unique (as far as I know) for selling growlers (measured in US pints) and having on site drinking. Last time I was in there looking for Bosko Absoluto (sold out) I came away with a bag full of other imperial IPAs, as well as Bibble (supposed to be a lager/IPA cross) and some single hop things from Mikkeller which have all been excellent. I am lucky that I like west coast style IPAs and really appreciate the stimulus that the new interest in so called craft beer has brought to the beer market. If I am going to be charged £4 for a pint of average lager, I will pay £5 for a pint of lovely beer, or a bottle of Odell's St Lupulin (which is my go to beer at the cinema).

There are number of breweries (Oakham, Marble, Ilkley, Saltaire, Kirkstall, The Kernel, Buxton etc) that produce 500ml bottles, which is a proper size, but the cost is almost the same as the 330-350ml bottles, so even a stingy Yorkshireman such as myself can enjoy kick ass beer without feeling like it is all a rip off.

Great news for me is the rise in interest in New Zealand hops, because I am a big fan.

*Next door to the best comic shop in town, a potentially dangerous combination.
posted by asok at 4:54 AM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's a topic that is rarely discussed in the context of IPAs: Food parings. A bitter IPA can be a delightful complement to dishes on the sweet end of the spectrum, much in the way that espresso pairs nicely with chocolate. This is especially true with American brew-pub fare, which, sadly, is often a mish-mash of overly salty, overly sweet foods blackened to perfection in a frier. That pile o' greasy sweet potato fries will be much tastier in the presence of a strongly hopped IPA, which almost acts like a palate cleanser. My preference is to start with a stout or porter--which, if it's complex enough, can take the place of an appetizer--and then graduate to an IPA when the main meal arrives.
posted by Gordion Knott at 5:03 AM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Had no problem getting a seat at the bar at Russian River for happy hour when I was there.

I think it depends on time of year. When the Pliny the Younger is released in February, there are lines around the block, even when it's raining. Even the local markets here (about an hour from the brewery) are limiting customers on the number of bottles they can purchase per day.
posted by jaguar at 6:48 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


effbot:

... and so on.

Pronunciation guide for English speakers.


O.k. How about:

"Here I Gose-gain on my own."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:15 AM on March 23, 2015


Here's a topic that is rarely discussed in the context of IPAs: Food parings.

I can never decide, so I go with one bag of Bacon Fries and one bag of Scampi Fries.
posted by biffa at 7:44 AM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The south Florida brew scene seems to be heavily inspired by the west coast, but these younger breweries haven't stuck to just IPAs and have produced some amazingly good stuff. One of my favorites being Unkindness, a stout from Barley Mow.

I go to brew fests whenever I can and the people at places like Barley Mow and Cigar City are very enthusiastic about their work. The Cigar City folks are pretty good at food pairings as well. It's a great time for south Florida beer drinkers


That said, I recently was able to score a bottle of Dogfish Head's 120 minute IPA. The massive ammount (a month's worth) of dry hopping toned the bitterness down considerably so the individual hop flavors came out quite nicely. I wish it wasn't so hard to get.
posted by john at 8:14 AM on March 23, 2015


The hops in IPA was put there so the beer could survive the hot boat trip to India. These beers are getting ready for the trip to Mars.

I can't for the life of me find the link now, and perhaps it came from a previous MeFi discussion. I've heard that these over-hopped IPAs are now too delicate to handle ocean transport and that's creating problems for American breweries now trying to expand to European markets.
posted by msbrauer at 8:56 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Splitting hairs a bit: the whole "IPAs were specifically designed for the long voyage to India" thing is a bit of a myth. link
posted by booooooze at 9:00 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The hops in IPA was put there so the beer could survive the hot boat trip to India.

Opinion is divided on the subject.
posted by doiheartwentyone at 9:36 AM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


dammit
posted by doiheartwentyone at 9:37 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've heard that these over-hopped IPAs are now too delicate to handle ocean transport

It's certainly true that many of them are very much better fresh -- hop aromas and flavors fade fastest, leaving just the base bitterness -- so they don't stand up well to long shipping and sitting-on-a-shelf times.

Stone's Enjoy By series, noted above, have deliberately very specific and short best-before dates to enforce freshness. Although I feel they're bringing them out too frequently now (we just had 2/14 and 3/14; and now already onto 4/20) and that's sometimes leading to them hanging around on shelves past their date. *side-eyes the Walnut Creek Whole Foods*

(and wow, the Zyphophile blog that boo..oze and doiheartwentyone linked is great.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:58 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The two best IPAs I've ever tried are not from the west coast.

As fair as I know (I've been doing some freelance writing and copywriting about beer recently), there is a big difference between East Coast and West Coast IPA's.

The hops in IPA was put there so the beer could survive the hot boat trip to India. These beers are getting ready for the trip to Mars.

Once again, AFAIK the reason why West Coast/PNW IPA's are so hoppy is that most of the hops grown in the US come from Washington and Oregon.

It's a regional thing.
posted by Nevin at 4:33 PM on March 24, 2015


Splitting hairs a bit: the whole "IPAs were specifically designed for the long voyage to India" thing is a bit of a myth.

From the zythophile link:

"Certainly by the 1760s brewers were being told that it was “absolutely necessary” to add extra hops to beer if it was being sent to somewhere warm."

Maybe the debate is about the hops being specifically just for India, and you'd have to expect that in practice it would not be a four month journey, as the ships would likely be tied up in and delayed at intermediate docks along the transport chain, and sometimes for extended periods.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:08 AM on March 25, 2015


Maybe the debate is about the hops being specifically just for India

Yeah, I didn't read the whole comment thread, but the author clarified that's what he meant in the comments.
posted by jaguar at 11:28 AM on March 25, 2015


Now there is a "teabag" with hops, orange peel and coriander to freshly flavor beer in the glass. This is basically dry hopping, which pale ale's flavor profile is noted for. Anyone can make these, it seems.
posted by Brian B. at 7:16 AM on April 3, 2015


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