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Thread: IPA popularity

  1. #1
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    IPA popularity

    Why so popular with so many people all of a sudden?

    I am no expert and perhaps they have always been popular? Just seems like so many micros focus on IPA IPA IPA IPA.....

    They taste like they have tree sap brewed into them or something of that nature. Is just the high amount of hops?

    I just went to Stone Brewing's 16th anniversary beer fest and tried a bunch on IPAs, but I guess they just don't agree with my taste buds.

    There was only one huge line at the entire event. It was for Russian River Pliny the Elder.

    Yuck. It was the only beer I didn't finish. Beer foul

    I feel like I am missing out on something, but my taste buds lead me to other types of beer more along the lines of a Guinness...

  2. #2
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    I think it is because it is a good way to get introduced to craft beers (everybody makes them) and they are pretty tasty. IPAs are a little hoppy, just like a 29'r if you don't like it - don't ride it
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Why so popular with so many people all of a sudden?
    Actually, this is a really interesting question. I've got some theories but I'd be curious to hear what others think. I think part of it is the love affair Americans seem to have with hops/hoppy beers which started about 10-15 years ago and just keeps ramping up every year. In the early microbrew days a brewers standard flagship was generally a Pale Ale and I think brewers and drinkers have just kept pushing the hop needle up and up to the point where Pale Ales are almost what a standard Lager was 20 years ago. None of this answers the real question though which is what is it about hoppy beers that people love?

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    I tend to agree. I never understood the obsession with IPAs. A lot of them taste like a bottle of pine tar to me.

    I guess it's probably because the big boys would never produce one (i.e. they're not for the masses), so they're kind of intertwined with microbreweries.

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    A related question: Why do IPAs have such a strong piney flavor. I figured it was all the hops, but I've had a few heavily hopped Pilsners and they have a much smoother flavor without any of that thick, syrupy pine needle taste. Different kind of hops? Brewing process?

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    The "tree sap" taste is the hops. I think it takes a little time to start to appreciate the bitterness and flavors that make an IPA what it is. I have just started really exploring craft beers and can really say that the last couple months, have I been able to understand the draw of a good IPA. Also there are many American style IPA's that are different then English style IPA's. The type of hopes they use also makes a big difference. Some are more citrusy tasting while some are more grassy, and others are piney. If the brewery is big on bittering the beer they add hops early in the boil, but if they want more hop aromas or flavors they add them later in the boil, or dry hop - where they add hops after the boil into the fermentor or even right before botteling.

    It could just be not what you were expecting? Especially comparing to a Guinness, which gets most of it's flavor from the malt profile and water. For a while I was looking for more malty flavors in beers, so extra or American pale ales hit my palate better.

    I haven't tried either beers you mentioned so I can't speak for them, but I really enjoy Surly Furious for an IPA. It seems to have a really good balance.

    This site can help you determine if what you're drinking falls into the style it says it is, as many brewers deviate from it. BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines - Category 14

    Again, it could just not be the flavor you want in a beer, which is perfectly fine. Just like bikes there are many to try and enjoy. And just cause you don't like it today, doesn't mean you wont like it in a different situation. I think it's great that you are willing to try them and not be stuck on only what you know.

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    So much is happening with hop varieties right now it's crazy. If you looked at home brew recipes from 20 years ago, nine times out of ten they would involve the same handful of hop varieties. Nowadays, they are creating new types of hops left and right to accentuate different flavors and this is working hand in hand with the explosion of IPAs. I think also the fact that the current breed of IPA's are uniquely American in style may have something to do with the popularity. For years American beers really just mimicked European styles (mostly English) and now we've actually begun to innovate and change the way even Europeans look at beer.

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    Mmmm, this made me think of the Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA that I had this weekend, an IPA I really liked. I'm not a fan of the "piney" IPAs that seem to be gaining popularity. They can be good in small doses but I can have about half a glass of many of those before I just can't appreciate the flavor any longer. Too much aftertaste that doesn't effect my pallet favorably, like a bad sour candy. I have also found that it really depends on what type of food I am eating with an IPA as to whether I like it or not. I tend to like the darker spectrum of beers like a good porter or stout so it could just be my pallet.

    I was on a bit of a Ninkasi kick this weekend due to them being on sale at my local supermarket. They make some great Ales. I also had their Oatmeal Stout, which was great as always, and their summer seasonal called Radiant which was decent though had some of the IPA piney aftertaste. It wasn't so much that it took away from the flavor and stuck with you too long. It was a well balanced Ale that didn't take the IPA hoppiness too far. They don't list it as an IPA though I would personally put it in that category.

  9. #9
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    I think the IPA boom started off as a fad, and has evolved into something much more refined and enjoyable. The fad was one where "bigger is better" for beer - more hops, more alcohol, more crazy flavors. For many beer styles, that hasn't changed, but for IPAs it has morphed into an exercise in different hop varieties as Carl Hungus mentioned.

    Beer makers are beginning to address the industry the same way winemakers have done for many years - by focusing on the building blocks. Water chemistry, grain diversity and hop species are far more complex issues than they were 10-15 years ago. With hop species diversifying and coming from different parts of the globe, brewers have begun to tap into flavors that didn't exist in beer 10 years ago. Yes, the standard IPA has a piney, grapefruit, and resinous character. But what about blueberry, pineapple, orange, grassy, or floral flavors from the hops? These are all flavors yielded by current hop offerings in the myriad of IPAs available on the market today.

    Modern day IPAs are far more than bitter bombs they used to be. Sure, those bitter bombs still exist, but more brewers are refining the beers and looking for balance and expressive character, whether it's dank, floral or even tropical. The fact is, people like hops, and the dimension they add to the beer. Now brewers are focusing on how to get that hop flavor and aroma into beer without turning it into a bitter, astrigent mess.

    Personally, I'm a huge fan.

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    I don't hate IPA's, but I am annoyed that the best beer shop in town carries so many of them, at the exclusion of so many other good beers.

    I have had some hoppy beers that I really like. I have also had a few of those really bitter hop bombs that I didn't like.

    one thing my local beer shop is doing well these days are ciders. one of the guys who works there is celiac, and he's not been impressed with the gluten free sorghum beers on the market, so he's gotten into the ciders a lot. the shop carries some good ones.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    I think the IPA boom started off as a fad, and has evolved into something much more refined and enjoyable. The fad was one where "bigger is better" for beer - more hops, more alcohol, more crazy flavors. For many beer styles, that hasn't changed, but for IPAs it has morphed into an exercise in different hop varieties as Carl Hungus mentioned.

    Beer makers are beginning to address the industry the same way winemakers have done for many years - by focusing on the building blocks. Water chemistry, grain diversity and hop species are far more complex issues than they were 10-15 years ago. With hop species diversifying and coming from different parts of the globe, brewers have begun to tap into flavors that didn't exist in beer 10 years ago. Yes, the standard IPA has a piney, grapefruit, and resinous character. But what about blueberry, pineapple, orange, grassy, or floral flavors from the hops? These are all flavors yielded by current hop offerings in the myriad of IPAs available on the market today.

    Modern day IPAs are far more than bitter bombs they used to be. Sure, those bitter bombs still exist, but more brewers are refining the beers and looking for balance and expressive character, whether it's dank, floral or even tropical. The fact is, people like hops, and the dimension they add to the beer. Now brewers are focusing on how to get that hop flavor and aroma into beer without turning it into a bitter, astrigent mess.

    Personally, I'm a huge fan.
    Well put sir as usual...

    I would add that it seems to be a taste developed over time. The majority (though i have met a few exceptions) of people I know who love IPA's grew into them over time. Most new to craft beer types don't seem to like them straight off, but as their pallet adjusts to larger stronger flavors they tend to go for the bigger bolder beers (including others like 100% brett, rauchbier, Strong ales etc...)
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    Years ago Sam Adams and Dog Fish Head combined advertising. The tag line was something like: hops are beer flavor - no hops, no beer flavor. I blame SA and DFH for the current over-the-hop IPA movement.
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  13. #13
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    To clarify: A lot of hops does not equil bitter though. To quote myself in reference to IBU:

    "To get even more technical its measuring the Isomerized Alpha Acids contained within the beer. Isomerization happens during the boil, thus the multiple hop additions at different times. Different hops contain different amount of alpha acids, you will commonly hear "high alpha hops" among brewers, as these are desirable for IPA's. Isomerized alpha acids = bitterness. Probably more info than needed, but i thought it was interesting when i found

    I don't know to much about it in practicality but the EBU (European Bitterness Unit) is supposed to measure "perceived bitterness". Who knows how well this works, and havn't really taken the time to find out a beers EBU vs. IBU. From the little i know about the EBU it seems like a more pracital way to let the consumer know how bitter the beer actually tastes."

    from this prior thread: Best "low IBU" brews

    Hops add many delightful flavors other than bitter. Even the sweetest sugariest fruitiest beers have hops. Beer has to have hops to be considered beer, otherwise its malt liquor.
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    You're doing it wrong.

    Just kidding.

    My beer snobbery started with Guinness and Fat Tire. Now Pliny the Elder is one of my fave's. It's really best enjoyed out of the bottle sometimes, not quite sure why.

    As far as IPA's go... I really disliked them at first. They are sharp and bitter and seem to have no taste. It's sort of like a good red wine... I remember being able to enjoy Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, but would balk at red's. Develop a palate!

    Try DIPAs. It's counter-intuitive, but they are a bit smoother than a traditional IPA. Technically I think Pliny is considered a DIPA.

    Most of the local stuff is good. But, pick a DIPA and have it with some BBQ or something kind of sharp and spicy.

    Did you try the 16th Anniversary? Anything else at the fest that you did enjoy?

    Also, nothing wrong with preferring stouts and porter's. I LOVE a good dark beer. We had a Peak XV the other night from Black Diamond Brewing. Awesome. The Yeti Brewing Oak Aged stout's are good. From Port Brewing the Old Viscosity. And, almost anything breakfast stout

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    Stone might be one of the kings of over the top IBU beers ( Victory also comes to mind ). I think the IPA trend might be 10years or so now. I like em pretty good, but prefer more balance than boldness...thinking Longtrail from the east or Lagunitas from the west. My favorite IPA isTrout River Brewing up near Kingdom Trails VT. Dan the brewer is not an all bitter-up-front IPA guy which is probably why his stuff is so good. (finished with fresh hops in the holdingtank straight from his garden)
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    If the trend is to continue adding hops and flavor, when will all these hopheads switch over to stouts and porters...


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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Why so popular with so many people all of a sudden?
    ...
    I feel like I am missing out on something, but my taste buds lead me to other types of beer more along the lines of a Guinness...
    I'm with you on this one! Occasionally there will be an IPA that I enjoy (usually it involves someone else buying it), but for the most part I stay away from them.

  18. #18
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    Been enjoying IPAs going on 20 years now and pretty much "only" IPAs for the last 15+. Perhaps it's silly, but while I can enjoy other beers (especially a good lager), I long for hoppy ale.

    I enjoy the flavor, but also the aroma. What some brewers are doing with hops is just wonderful.

    Different strokes for different folks though. It'd be a boring world if everyone ate and drank the same thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Beer has to have hops to be considered beer, otherwise its malt liquor.
    Or Gruit, (ale fermented with various other herbs). I've been thinking of experimenting with some flavors for brewing a gruit. gruitale.com :: Gruit Ale & Unhopped Beers, Brewing Herbs and Recipes

    But hops possesses two characteristics notably different than the herbs it replaced - it causes the drinker to become drowsy and it diminishes sexual desire. Protestant literature of the time, denoting the "problems" associated with the gruit herbs, contradict contemporary beer historians and are in actuality some of the first drug control manifestos on record. The laws that eventually passed in the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries restricting the number of herbal additives used in brewing are actually the first drug control laws ever passed.
    Gruit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  20. #20
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    The more IPAs my beer store stocks the better, as far as I'm concerned. My two main beer "types" are IPAs and Stouts. That's not to say I like every IPA I try nor every Stout I try.

    A lot of mountain bikers in my area drink IPAs and I just sort of thought that's what most people drink. Wrong! I'll stand in front of the beer section, the guy next to me might be looking perplexed as to what to buy, I'd recommend one of my IPA favorites and (invariably) he'd say, oh I hate IPAs. Then he'd recommend some lame Brown Ale, my idea of the typical sink beer (two sips and I pour it out).

    So I came to the realization that, in fact, a small percentage of folks drink IPAs. I love a good IPA and will choose an IPA on a Brewery Tour every time.

    There's no accounting for taste. What tastes great to me takes like grassy pine tar to the next guy. I envy the beer drinker who says "oh, I'll drink just about anything". I don't drink Pilsners, I don't drink Ales, I don't drink Lagers, Bocks, the list is endless of what I won't drink...it's just a waste of my time. I drink IPAs and Stouts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy View Post
    ...I don't drink Pilsners, I don't drink Ales, I don't drink Lagers, Bocks, the list is endless of what I won't drink...it's just a waste of my time. I drink IPAs and Stouts.
    I don't like Lagers and Pilsners either. Though saying you don't drink Ales is a pretty broad sweep, as IPA is India Pale Ale. But I'm guessing that you are referring to most other ales. Personally I'll try most ales, stouts and porters. And let the individual beer speak for itself.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy View Post
    I don't drink Ales, I don't drink Lagers,
    All beers are either Ales or Lagers, though I understand what you were getting at
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy View Post
    There's no accounting for taste. What tastes great to me takes like grassy pine tar to the next guy. I envy the beer drinker who says "oh, I'll drink just about anything". I don't drink Pilsners, I don't drink Ales, I don't drink Lagers, Bocks, the list is endless of what I won't drink...it's just a waste of my time. I drink IPAs and Stouts.
    I feel bad for you. You're missing out on a lot of great beers. Also, as has been pointed out, IPAs and Stouts are both Ales.

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    Fer instance: I used to drink Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I tried all their seasonals (Celebration, Anniversary etc) till one winter they came out with Torpedo. After drinking Torpedo all SNs "ales" seemed lacking. Thank god it's year round. I've suggested it to guys at the beer cooler and not one has said they like it. They'll walk out with Fat Tire or some Brown Ale. And so it goes.

    Red Ale, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, those are what I'm referring to. I know one can argue nomenclature all day but just drink a Sierra Nevada Torpedo---that's my go to IPA. Then drink their Pale Ale and see if you taste the difference.

    I didn't drink beer for about 15 years after I got sick in Mexico and my body chemistry changed. After eliminating foods and whatnot to try to tone down my symptoms I stopped drinking beer and that's what it was. Sob, but I gave up beer for about 15 years.

    About three years ago I tried beer again and boy have the selections changed. To make a long selection story short my first beer back was a Dogfish Head 90 Minute. A religious experience, fo' sho'.

    To make another longer experimentation story short, I got tired of the 90 Minutes blast of everything IPA and looked for something not so over the top. I've tried almost everyone's IPAs and DIPAs. Like I say, no accounting for taste. Some I like, some I don't. Some I love (like Odell's IPA) but are just a bit too expensive for an every day brew.

    Now, my IPA short list: Torpedo, Avery IPA, Santa Fe Happy Camper and Great Divide Titan.
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  25. #25
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    IPAs trendy???

    Hmmm...this is all very interesting. IPAs are practically a benchmark for brewers up my way in Seattle (though it's probably more accurate to call them "NW" or "West Coast" style, if you've ever had a classic English IPA); but over the last 5-7 years or so, IPAs have fallen out of favor somewhat amongst many of the cutting-edge brewers. While it may not account for most of their revenues, there is certainly a lot more hype around Belgian and German styles.

    Don't get me wrong -- I love to drink stuff like Boneyard's Hop Venom (so much so, that I designed my driving route down to Tahoe so that I'd hit Bend at 11am when the brewery opens); but I'm drinking a lot of Dick Cantwell's (Elysian) crazy Belgian one-offs *and* super-traditional, clean German lagered styles from Chuckanut in Bellingham these days.

    There's a lot of great beer, and if alpha isn't your thing, just find something else. As long as it's craft.

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