Citrus and Tropical IPAs on the Rise

News by | Mar 2016 | Issue #110
Photo by Taylor Seidler

Since January, a wave of fruit-flavored IPAs has flooded the market, including Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin, Shipyard Blood Orange IPA, Flying Dog Tropical Bitch, New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA and Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style IPA. Although fruit styles only make up 1.5 percent of the total sales in the craft IPA category, the number of brands has increased, according to Chicago-based consumer insights company IRI.

“Two years ago there were only three brands that fell into the fruit IPA segment,” says Dan Wandel, principal of client insights in beverage alcohol, which measures beer distribution and sales across supermarkets in the US. By mid-January, there were 19 brands, not including many of this year’s newest arrivals. And in the past year, total craft IPA dollar sales have grown 36 percent, while citrus/fruit IPA dollar sales are up by 1,025.3 percent.

Even more of these beers are on the way. Harpoon will bottle a Pale Ale with Mango called Camp Wannamango, and in April, Heavy Seas will introduce TropiCannon IPA, the newest take on its Loose Cannon IPA. Brewed with mango, grapefruit and blood orange, TropiCannon resulted from months of taproom experiments with adding fruit to casks of Loose Cannon, says founder Hugh Sisson.

“One of the hops we use in Loose Cannon, the Simcoe, has a mango characteristic. So we’re adding a little mango to bring that up a smidge,” he says. Sisson has also seen the interest in fruit nuances sway from Belgian-influenced, dry fruit beers, to more citrusy flavors. “I’m wondering whether part of that is the outgrowth of the explosion of shandies,” he says. “IPA is the No. 1 product in craft, so IPA meets shandy and, bingo, citrus IPA.”

The combination has proven a winner with consumers. At Craft Beer Cellar, a growing national franchise of bottle shops, customers come in asking for the style. “It’s the new hopped beer trend,” says co-founder Suzanne Shalow. “This was bound to happen with the emergence of new hop varieties that showcase more of this citrusy, tropical […] hops.” Shalow’s stores have brought in “more, if not all” of the fruit IPAs they can get. “The trend has some staying power,” she says, “though we suspect that the amazing will survive and the average will fade away.”