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Has IPA become a marketing word?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ssimpson89, Jul 1, 2017.

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  1. ssimpson89

    ssimpson89 Defender (603) Jul 24, 2009 Illinois

    I've been into beer for 7 or 8 years and travel extensively for work. I'm always exited to go to new towns to try the local beer. I've always been partial to IPA/DIPA/APA. It used to be that each brewery had one IPA, with maybe some experimental at the brewpubs.

    I enjoy the variations with different hops, etc., but I've really grown tired of ordering an IPA at a bar or buying one at my local store that are not IPA's at all. The fruit craze is part of that. There are some very good ones, like Sculpin Grapefruit, but there are so many others that drink like flavored pales at best, flavored blondes or even Shandy's.

    Rye beers are another style that are marketed as IPA's when they often are not. There are some very fine examples that do fit the style. My personal favorite is Founders Red's Rye, but for every solid example there are many more that are marketed as Rye IPA's that don't come close.

    I know the letters IPA get tap handles and shelf space, but I'm becoming very cautious of what I buy now. If a brewer burns me with fake marketing, it makes me reluctant to return. I actually don't mind some of the beers, but please call them what they are. I try many styles and if they are good, I'll likely find them anyway.

    I know I can vote with my $ and I do. I'm just curious if any others have thoughts on this issue?

    #1 ssimpson89, Jul 1, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  2. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,743) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    "IPA" probably became a marketing term 10-12 years ago. Black IPA, Red IPA, White IPA, Rye IPA, etc. A hoppy Blonde ale is just an IPA with a slightly different malt bill. I a brewery wants to move a beer, they'll label it IPA, and curiosity will the best of folks.
  3. Sweatshirt

    Sweatshirt Disciple (328) Jan 27, 2014 New Hampshire

    It's been one for a very long time. It gives the drinker an expectation and piggy backs on the sales bump of calling something an IPA.
  4. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Meyvn (1,300) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey

    Yes. Example. Dogfish Head changing Indian brown, on the label it says dark ipa after the new packaging.
  5. ssimpson89

    ssimpson89 Defender (603) Jul 24, 2009 Illinois

    I know I'm late to the party in thinking this, it just seems to get worse with each release cycle.
  6. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Aspirant (246) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    It HAS become a marketing term (much like "craft beer" has).
    In fact, there hasn't been a true IPA on the market since late 1972, when the final bottles of year long aged Ballantine India Pale began disappearing from the store shelves (Historically, even in the old days ...I'm talking the 1800's... IPA was a "stock ale" aged in bulk for at least a year before it's long boat ride to India). IPA has traditionally ALWAYS been a long aged product, (at least until lazy brewers began pushing it out the door immediately after fermentation was complete).
    After Ballantine closed up shop in Newark, NJ, most examples have been uninspired imposters using the name "IPA". Some of them have been decent enough, but without the long bulk aging most are very 'green' tasting.
    I've gone on and ranted about this in the past ... and of course it falls mostly on deaf ears (except to those who remember what IPA tasted like in the '60 s and even early '70s and were able to enjoy the hoppy, intensely aromatic and decidedly bitter goodness of the Bally IPA...Those folks will know what I'm talking about).

    Again...I'm not saying that all modern IPA's are bad, but the craft industry has successfully managed to reset the hop crazy American palate to actually expect "green" tasting beer, touting "freshness" (mainly because they can't afford the required storage space for aging and need to push the beer out the door more quickly).
    You can disagree with me (and I'm sure many younger beer drinkers will do just that)....but really... you had to be there. :wink: I'm sure glad I was.
    RobH, HermitDan, LeRose and 13 others like this.
  7. RandyCongdon

    RandyCongdon Initiate (0) Nov 23, 2016 Nevada

    I've been dealing with that with several of my new customers. I've had them tell me that if it's not an IPA, they are not interested.

    I enjoy good IPA, but I have never seen so much emphasis on it in shelf sets as I have recently. We just a beer reset at my store, and the vendor who did it also made sure his competition got fair shelf space. A few new beers were cut into the set, and almost all were IPAs.

    Many of the breweries whose products we sell feature all sorts of this type. New Belgium comes to mind with their Voodoo line and such variations as Citradellic. Sierra Nevada has also been encouraging the hype with Hop Hunter, Torpedo and others.

    I can't blame breweries from jumping all over this trend, and some really cool IPAs have come out of this. Still, the market feels totally saturated right now.
    johnnybgood1999 and LuskusDelph like this.
  8. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,120) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    Sure it has, I have casual beer drinking friends who don't know what an IPA is but think they like IPAs.
    TonyLema1, LuskusDelph and VABA like this.
  9. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (208) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    I forget who it was on here but someone said it best a couple years ago

    "It's getting to the point where we might as well just pronounce it 'ipuh'"

    Hardly seems to retain it's original meaning sometimes
  10. marquis

    marquis Crusader (764) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    But the original meaning as @LuskusDelph has pointed out is of a long aged beer. Also it was low ABV and Brett affected. And it is the case that for a very long time IPA was just another name for Bitter. Greene King IPA is a present day example at 3.6% ABV and 30 IBU.
    Beer styles are not set in stone. Look what happened to the founders of Kolsch who tried to protect their product yet now most Kolsches are not Kolsches at all.
    rgordon, LeRose, Ranbot and 3 others like this.
  11. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (208) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    This is very true and a good point to bring up. Maybe "original" was the wrong word to use but I was mainly referring to the meaning the name took on during the emergence of the American craft scene. Cheers
  12. ebin6

    ebin6 Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2009 California

    Considering waiters at some places (e.g. Applebees, Red Robin, etc) will list off "IPA" as if it were a specific beer and not a style, I'd say yes. Even average beer drinkers know it's a thing without having any clue what it is. That incentivizes brewers to put those three letters on a beer. The shifting styles within the style don't help.

    Unfortunately, it has also become shorthand for craft beer. I was perusing a Facebook comment thread tonight (not advisable) and the average commenter was saying how they hate that their kids were trying to get them to "drink IPA." It was a blanket term for craft beer to them.

    Still, I think that's a good thing overall. The average person knows there's more than just Bud and Guinness. If Fat Tire could convert thousands of drinkers, the only way is up.
    seakayak and alucard6679 like this.
  13. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,120) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    Overall I think the term IPA does increase public awareness of craft beers generally. Easy to remember, easy to say and gives off an air of informed opinion.
  14. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (72) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Anything that is labeled as an IPA, should at the very least be hoppy. New England IPA and the juicy trend is anything but hoppy.
    Porphyry, manofria619, Leebo and 2 others like this.
  15. zid

    zid Savant (968) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    It hasn't turned into a marketing term. India Pale Ale was a marketing term in the 1800s. When wasn't it ever a marketing term? Brewers were even renaming existing beers with that term back then too.
  16. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,511) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Excellent points and I totally agree. Since you have had some decades to think about it, what name(s) do you suggest to replace IPA and do away with this confusion?
  17. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Devotee (485) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    And while you're at it---get off my lawn!
  18. marquis

    marquis Crusader (764) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    It was just a name. Some brewers never used the term at all. And the Bass brewer once called it IPA,Pale Ale and Bitter in the same conversation.There were also domestic beers sold as IPA which were quite different from those sent to India
  19. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,120) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    That gives me the impression IPA either was or was beginning to be used as a marketing term even back then.
  20. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,752) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Agree completely. At a most general level a "marketing term" can be viewed as a word used to differentiate one product from another in communication with actual or potential customers.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,848) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I did not have the opportunity to drink a back in the day Ballantine IPA but I did get a chance a few years ago to drink the Smuttynose version of Ballantine IPA: they branded it as Clusters Last Stand.

    I discussed this beer in a New Beer Sunday thread: https://www.beeradvocate.com/commun...and-vs-pabsts-ballantine.217032/#post-2853438

    lester619, cavedave and LuskusDelph like this.
  22. McFinniganOfTheFinnigans

    McFinniganOfTheFinnigans Initiate (111) Apr 20, 2017 Maine

    Some can be hoppy, but I agree with you
  23. McFinniganOfTheFinnigans

    McFinniganOfTheFinnigans Initiate (111) Apr 20, 2017 Maine

    My personal thing about IPAs is that some beers that have come out in recent seem to blur a distinction. You'll think it's an IPA, but turn out to be an APA or some other style.

    As for marketing term? I feel if a brewery doesn't make an IPA people will ignore them entirely. At least on a macro/micro level if that makes sense.
  24. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,282) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Calling modern ipas green and their brewers lazy is a bit much, no? While I can't argue which beer was better, I do find the elderly usually romanticize about the good old days, but dementia can complicate things.

    But yes, IPA is marketing term. Whay used to be called an american brown ale, or american stout have been rebranded as brown and black ipas. Even avery just relabeled hog heaven as a red ipa instead of a dryhopped barleywine. It's what americans want right now. I recently heard about half of the craft beer sold falls under the ipa banner.
  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,409) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Not according to the Brewers Association End of the Year review (Dec. 2016):
    IRI data (which the B.A. sometimes quotes, even though the two groups differ on the definition of "craft beer/brewers") lately puts the IPA styles as around 28% of "craft".
    Well, some "americans" - if IPA's make up about (being generous, figuring the style's continued to growth through the first half of '17) 1/3 of the Craft segment and Craft is 12.3% of the US market, IPA's account for about 4% of what Americans actually buy.
  26. The_TapRoom

    The_TapRoom Initiate (0) Jun 29, 2017 Michigan

    Definitely a market term now. People see IPA and know they will be drinking craft. I think that there are too many IPAs trying to push the limit, but that is just me.
    Squire likes this.
  27. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,282) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Those figures are a bit misleading in that they don't include pale ales or fruited ipa into the ipa category. Let's face it, dales pale ale, zombie dust, pseudosue among others are ipas in pale ales clothing, and the ubiquitous sculpin fruit variants and the fruited ipa craze are not included in those numbers. While what I had heard may be overkill, your stats seem a bit low. Regardless IPA is still the number one selling style in american craft beer right now, so it's a certainty that brewers are using The term ipa as a marketing ploy.
  28. ScaryEd

    ScaryEd Poo-Bah (1,732) Feb 19, 2012 New Hampshire

    Oh my God I just saw this on their website.

    I haven't had it in a while admittedly, have they changed the recipe? I don't recall it being overly hoppy. In fact I remember thinking it was closer to a stout than a brown ale the first time I had it.
  29. ScaryEd

    ScaryEd Poo-Bah (1,732) Feb 19, 2012 New Hampshire

    What the hell kind of logic is this? Those beers use a ton of hops. A lot of times more than what you likely consider a "true" IPA.

    Hops impart flavors and aromas all over the spectrum. It's not all just pine and bitterness.
    GuyFawkes likes this.
  30. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,278) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    AROIPA = American Rendition Of India Pale Ale
  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,409) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Sure they do - according to the IRI, their IPA stats include the "sub-styles":
    • American
    • Imperial
    • Session
    • Fruit/Veggie/Spiced
    • English
    • Belgian White
    • Other
    • Black
    with "Fruit/Veggie/Spiced" the fastest growing.

    As for those pale ales (which, granted, the IRI data does count under "Pale Ale" not "IPA") wouldn't those examples be counter to the argument that non-IPAs are being labeled as such for marketing reasons?

    IRI says the "Pale Ale" style accounts for around 7% of the craft segment of the beer market, so combined IPA and PA still don't account for close to one half of craft nationally.

    Again, not my stats - they're IRI's and quoted frequently by the Brewers Association.
    #31 jesskidden, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
    cavedave likes this.
  32. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Meyvn (1,300) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey

    I think there is no recipe change. I remember there being a thread about it while it was happening. It seemed just as bitter as a pale ale maybe a bit less. I'd say maybe 45-55 IBUs.
  33. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,282) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    The end of the article also states the stats quoted DO NOT reflect all craft beer sales.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,848) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Well, I can report that IRI does not capture beer sales in Pennsylvania since they only capture sales at retailers like supermarkets,...

    This would mean that the IRI data is not 100% complete but maybe the percentages would still be pretty much on the mark?

    LuskusDelph, cavedave and jesskidden like this.
  35. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,282) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    That would mean CO is not included as well since we only sell %3.2 here.
    LuskusDelph and JackHorzempa like this.
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,848) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    So, IRI does not capture beer sales in PA and CO. Maybe some other states as well?

    I also believe that it does not capture beer sales at brewpubs and brewery tasting rooms.

    The net result is that it is not 100% complete but maybe the percentage aspects are fairly reflective of nationwide consumption?

  37. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,282) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    I'm not sure I am willing to make that jump in logic Jack.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,848) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Fair enough.

    I am not sure I am willing to make that jump either.:flushed:

    Without complete data, which is lacking right now, we are left to speculate. Or perhaps the word extrapolate is more applicable here?:confused:

    SFACRKnight likes this.
  39. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,409) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    This Brewers Association report - The State of Craft Beer in Colorado - is full of Colorado stats from IRI, listed as:
    * "Multi Outlet plus Convenience Stores"
    So they obviously also track Colorado liquor stores, as well supermarkets and other stores (MOLU, Convenience, etc) . Typically, when IRI data is given, the specific sort of retailer(s) is noted.

    Look, the IRI data is obviously not total and complete - leaving out indie liquor stores, on-premise and brewery sales, including the vague "seasonal" and "variety" segments, necessary because they collect info based on URL scans - but it is well-respected and used within the brewing industry, in particular by the craft-oriented Brewers Association, as a guide and a way to track various sorts of sales trends.

    One can easily challenge the exactness of their stats (which they do not even claim), but using "I heard" as a source of competing info seems even less accurate.
    #39 jesskidden, Jul 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  40. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (868) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Back when IPAs were starting to become popular. Garrett Oliver said that many IPAs from the West Coast weren't IPAs at all and should be called California Ales.
    rather and Harrison8 like this.
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