How did IPAs become so popular?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by slee196, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,046) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Oh, I wouldn't say that :grin::
    [​IMG]
    (As chance would have it, the topic's come up before).
     
  2. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,427) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    So obviously Pale was a key word at one time, the only one I’m familiar with say as of the mid 70s was Rolling Rock. So the drive to Pale beers has been marketed before, but how so? Pale in color? Pale sounds better than a straw colored lager. Pale from the malt? Pale because it was truly brewed to be dry? Or just a marketing term In the 50s and 60s. Sorry if this is redundant, I don’t remember seeing such a thread on macro pale lagers. The only ones of the labels you have up that I’m familiar with are Schaefer, Reading, and Rainer, and more so with Schaefer because it was so popular, but pale on the labels I’ve never seen.
     
  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,046) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    When I first started visiting various beer websites on the internet in the '90s, one of the websites (maybe BA, maybe not) listed Rolling Rock as a "Pale Ale" because of that "Extra Pale" designation on the label :grin: - obviously an extreme case of "reader entry error". That's when I started "collecting" the examples above.

    Just a synonym for "light" as in "light lager" - back when it meant both color and a less heavy beer (pre-low calorie "light beer"). In some cases, a brewery might have offered another lager that was slightly darker - more amber or golden than pale yellow, etc. Never struck me as unusual, I guess. :thinking_face:

    Well, there's also National's Bohemian and Premium beers there, both still brewed - by Pabst and a new owner, respectively. Reading and Rainier were separate beers from their flagship brands (Rainier in San Francisco, a different brewery than the Seattle brewery). In the case of the Schaefer Pale Dry, I think that might have been a separate, short-lived product from the brewery. I researched it once, and now I can't remember...
     
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  4. dgmirelli

    dgmirelli Aspirant (271) Mar 21, 2015 New York

    how about the short turnaround during brewing process? Small craft brewers needing to get product out of vats and into public hands, could the small brewers have forced the palate change by increased availability?
     
  5. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (524) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    Of the beer no longer fits the guidelines or tastes like an IPA, is it truly an IPA? At what point does "style" IPA become "marketing" IPA?

    If hops are no longer the dominant flavor, then what makes it an IPA?
     
  6. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,046) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    But the "Craft Beer" segment had been dominated by ales of all styles since pretty much from the beginning, long before "IPA" rose to the top of the styles list circa 2011.

    Before that, "Pale Ale" was number one and "Amber Ale" was the third most popular style. "Amber Lager" followed those 3, but the vast majority of that segment was Samuel Adams Boston Lager - brewed in "macro-sized" breweries designed specifically for lager brewing.
     
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  7. dgmirelli

    dgmirelli Aspirant (271) Mar 21, 2015 New York


    i offer that as one of the elements of the IPA craze not the root cause. With Amber Ale and Amber Lager, according to your stats as # 2 and #3, I see IPA's and their popularity as a no Brainer....if fact one may ask "what took so long?"
     
  8. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,359) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
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    No supporting information to my point but if I had to take a stab at it, I'd say it's the nexus of extreme and scarcity once the NEIPA became part of the discussion. Extreme in flavor profile and line worthy scarcity. I also assign heavy lifting in the hype arena to neckbeards taking lead on social media.
     
  9. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,552) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    I did some extensive research into the history of the IPA for a speech I gave, and if I recall correctly the British soldiers actually preferred porters, not IPAs. All styles were "over-hopped" so to speak to preserve the beer, not just IPAs. Although I imagine whether it was an IPA or a porter, the beers were probably infected.

    Except in styles like the New England IPA, the dominant flavor still IS the hops. It's just no longer the bitterness that dominates.
     
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,595) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    The beers shipped to India would have been exposed to Brettanomyces that were inside the wooden barrels. If you consider Brettanomyces an infectious microorganism than these beers were indeed infected.

    Cheers!
     
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  11. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (323) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    You see quite a few pre-prohibition labels with the term Extra Pale or Extra Pale Beer on them, as jesskidden intimates I imagine it was used to advertise the beers pale color, and when Rolling Rock was launched in the 1930s the same terminology was obviously used. Back then a pale colored beer was obviously in demand and not seen as a flaw in the beer. If anything a golden colored beer might run the risk of being seen as too dark instead.

    In recent decades it seems to have become common practise for macro beers to use small amounts of roasted malt, either caramel or black malt, in order to give the beer a golden color. Some instead use a small amount of Munich malt (this is very common among the Swedish macro brands). So brewers once again change their beers to suit consumer preferences. I can't help but think that the use of black malt or the equivalent is deceptive however, I don't think anyone is asking for their pale colored beer to have porter-esque notes, so it's obviously there simply for aesthetics, of fooling the beer drinker into thinking that this beer is richer in flavor. With Munich malt at least the breadiness it lends is often complementary in a pale lager beer, and it's a flavor I really enjoy.
     
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  12. Juno106

    Juno106 Initiate (119) Apr 3, 2019 Florida

    I've reached the point where I'm burned out with IPAs. The beer market is oversaturated and most are average at best. It's a cash grab at this point. I don't take chances anymore with an IPA that I've never heard of. I've been burned too many times and most aren't worth the price.
    I've started to revisit beers I have loved at an earlier age. Beers from Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. The weather is warming up in the southeast and I love a good pilsner or a wheat beer. I'm enjoying my break from IPAs.
     
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  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,595) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    But at the percentages utilized do you really perceive flavors from that malt?

    Spoiler Alert: In the upcoming New Beer Sunday thread I will be discussing a modern day Pale Lager that uses melanoidin malt in the grain bill.

    Cheers!
     
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  14. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (323) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    That would depend on the recipe I imagine. Supposedly Bud Light uses some Munich malt, as does Busch Beer (supposedly), I haven't had either beer but I doubt it is perceptible in those beers, but I imagine it's there to ensure that the beers don't come off as ghostly pale. In Sweden there's one macro brand which uses 20% Munich malt and another one using 10% where I percieve a flavor difference, increased breadiness, compared with the paler colored brands of the same breweries. And one of the breweries admits in their marketing that they typically use at least a couple of percent of Munich in their recipes. So there's obviously a spectrum to this practise, and where on the spectrum the beer is impacted in flavor I percieve the resulting flavor contribution to be a positive one. In other instances the flavor contribution can very well be muted or imperceptible, but in those cases I find the use of Munich malt to be more benign compared with brewers using roasted malt in pale colored beers.
     
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  15. hoptheology

    hoptheology Poo-Bah (5,027) May 12, 2014 South Dakota
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    IMO... There were some real trailblazers for the style, And that inspired everybody to get better at the style, and up their game so to speak. So ipas got good, then great, and finally exceptional. Things went from caramel pine bombs to really clean and really juicy with real distinct clean bitterness.

    When that started happening is honestly everybody's opinion, you can say it was as old as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or Pliny the elder, or alchemist, or treehouse.
     
  16. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,552) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Overall I'd say I find the better West Coast IPAs to be much "cleaner" than the better New England IPAs.

    But to be honest I typically don't use the word "clean" when describing IPAs, I'll use it when describing some lagers. As I take this to mean the beer was "cleaned" up during the lagering process, whereas with an ale, especially IPAs, and ESPECIALLY New England IPAs, much of the beer's character is from contribution from the yeast.

    Unless by "clean" here it means off-flavors, but again, I think many off flavors can be disguised with highly hopped IPAs. Especially those super bitter IBU bombs of the early 2000s that were West Coast IPAs.

    Regardless, I still find West Coast IPAs of the past to be better brewed overall than New England IPAs. Although that may simply be a function of so many more New England IPAs being produced by so many more amateur brewers.

    This all might just be ignorance on my part though as I see the word "clean" thrown around in many different contexts on this site.
     
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  17. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (402) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    You mean that the flavors, aromas, etc. are more "cut and dry", in your face, easily separated?
     
  18. hoptheology

    hoptheology Poo-Bah (5,027) May 12, 2014 South Dakota
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    Adjectives can be tricky. Sound, taste, smell...it's subjective and it's ballpark but everyone has a slightly different definition of what certain descriptions mean.

    I guess for me, when I taste a lot of caramel and sap in the beer, it's not a clean IPA. Garlic, onions, and dankness (to a lesser extent) can also come across a little funky/sweaty to me. Doesn't mean it's bad, it's just not my preference. Pliny is a good example of a clean west coast IPA. It's very sharp, precise, intentional in its direct bitterness coming from pine and citrus and very light stone fruits, and there's not a whole lot of other stuff going on even though it's explosively flavorful. Crisp feel helps immensely, with limited drying resins and alcohol heat. All of that equates a neat beer to me. You are correct in saying that New England IPAs are typically not clean. But to me, many of them are exceptionally bright flavor-wise, which tells my brain I'm drinking a cleaner beer.

    I know a lot of brewers are jumping on the NE IPA train, ad nauseum, and with very wildly mixed results -- but before this, everyone had a traditional house IPA too, and most of them were/are not worth writing home about. The fact is anything that is popular/sells will be produced by any brewer who is out to make a living (all of them).

    YMMV, but I personally think two of the biggest game changers were SNPA and Pliny. Alchemist came along and with their recipes, basically started canning freshly ruptured lupulin glands (I'm being metaphorical) and they caught lightning with it. I think the beer game is always changing, but I'm very happy those beers came to be.
     
    #178 hoptheology, Apr 25, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  19. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,552) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    No I think that’s how @The-Adjunct-Hippie describes it if I’m understanding him correctly. Here’s a definition I found that more or less sums up how I’ve always understood the term.

    “A clean beer is one free of flaws and distracting off-flavors, and it is also commonly applied to describe styles with subdued fermentation flavors. An earthy, peppery saison or farmhouse ale is the antithesis of clean, though, in those cases, it isn't a bad thing.”

    But those would be contributions from the ingredients chosen by the brewer, so as you said that means it’s simply not your preference, but that doesn’t make it not a clean beer.

    Many West Coast IPAs used caramel malts and Pacific Northwest hops for example, which would give off flavors of caramel and sap.

    And many of those “bright” flavors you enjoy in a New England IPA are from the brewing process and from contributions from the yeasts. Which is why I wouldn’t call that style “clean”. Similar to how I wouldn’t use it for for a Hefeweizen or a Belgian Ale.

    I understand what you’re saying and the way you’re describing it, but that’s not how I’ve historically understood the term. But like you said, it’s an adjective, people may use it differently.

    Lord knows the term “hoppy” has many different meanings these days.
     
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  20. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,411) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I think of a 'clean' tasting beer as being one that doesn't have a muddled flavor. It's usually a simpler beer and the flavor could also be described as 'straighforward'. I understand what @AlcahueteJ is saying, and that is probably a more useful use for the word 'clean' in describing beer.
    But in the world of IPAs I think of 'clean' IPAs as relying on the more bitter/astringent hop flavors and keeping the malt presence on the low end
     
  21. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,552) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    See this is where I think the description can get a bit confusing the way it's being used here. Because these descriptions just sound like personal preferences in IPAs, not necessarily what a "clean" beer is.

    @stevepat I think you hit the nail on the head with the "straight forward" description for the word clean.

    Budweiser is a clean beer, a Helles or Pils is a clean beer (well good one's anyhow).

    But I don't think of Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, St. Bernardus Abt. 12, Tree House Julius, or Cantillon Classic Gueuze as "clean" beers.

    I hope I'm making sense, it's quite possible I'm not!
     
  22. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Aspirant (202) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    Not the person you were replying to, but getting into the scene around 2005-2006, it took probably a year or two to really come across IPAs. I think the first for me was Harpoon IPA while at my parent's house in Connecticut, and compared to the Belgians and whatever Sam Adams was making at the time that I was into, the floral character did kind of turn me off at first. But then we found the Dogfish IPAs and Stone IPAs at a local restaurant at Rutgers, and that kind of got us into them.

    But I think the first 'hoppy and pale' beer that really got me into them was the Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner from.......2008? That beer really made hops click with me.
     
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  23. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,767) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Fwiw, if anyone had a Celebration Ale prior to the 2000s, then they had an IPA.
     
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  24. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Aspirant (202) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    Celebration confused the hell out of me when I first had it. Seeing the winter imagery on the label, I was expecting a winter ale like every other seasonal beer I had at the time. Got an IPA.
     
  25. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,552) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    I got into craft beer in 2004 and started drinking them right off the bat. One of the first craft beers I ever had was Smuttynose Finest Kind, and it immediately "clicked" for me.

    I also distinctly remember having Stone IPA/Ruination, 60 minute, 90 minute, Hop Devil, Hop Wallop...the list goes on. And of course Harpoon IPA.

    That's why I was kind of surprised by your response.
     
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  26. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Aspirant (202) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    I think back then, which was before the first explosion of say.......2011 or so, I think we were all pretty much beholden to what was on shelves or on tap.

    The liquor store we went to at school was basically a Sam Adams store. Every type of Sam Adams was there and this was back when they were pumping out a ton of styles (plus a lot of it was probably old so different styles probably just kept piling up and sitting on shelves), and I think it was more a comfort zone thing than anything. The restaurant that carried IPAs was also the one that carried Belgians, and I think we just got into those and stuck with them. Maybe it was seeing that they were from overseas and the associated price tag of a bottle of Chimay Blue at a restaurant made us go 'let's get this and be fancy'.

    It took us a good year or two to really get into hops. Belgians were the stuff for us back then.

    I kind of miss those times :-/
     
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  27. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,767) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Hah! It might surprise you then to hear that Jim Koch was actually on the vanguard of producing American IPAs. Well, beers that called themselves IPAs, anyway. His Oregon label's India Pale Ale was one of the first, and actually quite popular, starting in 1994 or so.
     
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  28. hoptheology

    hoptheology Poo-Bah (5,027) May 12, 2014 South Dakota
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    Absolutely.
     
  29. hoptheology

    hoptheology Poo-Bah (5,027) May 12, 2014 South Dakota
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    I think it's totally okay to describe things how we interpret them as long as we can provide a reason why when asked.

    I'm not gonna get all BJCP at the bar or challenge a description if that's how it comes across to them. Most I'd probably say is, "interesting, explain that!" Or "interesting".

    But what do I know, I just enjoy beer.
     
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  30. hoptheology

    hoptheology Poo-Bah (5,027) May 12, 2014 South Dakota
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    Here's a bone of contention : speaking of DFH, how "IPA" do you all consider 120 Minute to be?

    I've had dudes literally red in the face telling me it's a barleywine ale.

    And I didn't even say anything.
     
  31. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Aspirant (202) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    I'm sure those people are just fine calling a beer with lactose, oats, and fruit with no bitterness while being turbid an IPA though.....
     
  32. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Aspirant (202) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    Interesting, when did that die off? Man I would have loved to try that. I remember some of those weird old brands of beer. Pete's Wicked, JW Dundee's, etc.
     
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  33. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,552) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    The ability to reason is what separate us from animals.

    To me at least, American Barleywines are effectively double IPAs. And certainly the boozier they get, they can be considered "triple" IPAs, and become much sweeter and less hoppy.

    So I wouldn't say either party is right or wrong really.

    I mean the term "barleywine" is really just a made up name for a strong ale. Same as the category "American Strong Ale". And since many American Barleywines/Strong Ales traditionally had high IBUs and alcohol, they're very similar to double IPAs.

    At least when fresh anyways. If you age them then obviously the hops fade, and the malt character pulls through more, and they become a different beer. A fresh Sierra Nevada Bigfoot tastes like a West Coast double IPA, a 5 year old Bigfoot tastes more like an English Barleywine.

    https://www.anchorbrewing.com/blog/the-barleywine-tradition/

    Barleywines originated in England, and were so named because of the fact that even though they were made from barley, they approached the alcohol levels of wine.
     
  34. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,767) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Late 90s, maybe early 2000s. There was quite a bit of controversy surrounding the brand, too, as the Oregon Brewer's Guild objected to the name.

    The beer itself was more or less a 'budget' version of Anchor Liberty Ale, selling around $4.99 a sixer. It was tasty enough for the price, though.
     
  35. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,905) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont
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    Stone didn't make it to VT until 2007 but damn was it good. My first taste of their Vanilla Bean Porter was heavenly.

    I recall Long Trail's old IPA, which was actually very good for the style at the time it was popular in the mid-00s. Orange label. Long Trail also had a hefeweizen-style ale (light green label) and so forth. I also bought a ton of Harpoon IPA around the same time.
     
  36. sokol_1993

    sokol_1993 Zealot (586) Jul 27, 2014 California
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    IMO, in Asian craft brew circles, IPA become synonymous with craft beer, and it seems that a craft brewery must always have an IPA, and that has led to IPAs being brew all over Southeast Asia. Furthermore, it seems that the experimenting-with-different-ingredients mindset that IPA brewers have has served the style well in Vietnam, with Jasmine IPA, Tea IPA, and even a Pho IPA. You don't see that kind of experimenting with other type of beers. IPA also offers a lot of taste for a relatively low level of alcohol, which also fits the hot weather over there, even though I would want a British style bitter more than an IPA there on any given day...
     
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  37. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,427) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    My first ipa was Hop Devil, a pretty decent introduction. Especially good on tap.
     
  38. spelingchampeon

    spelingchampeon Meyvn (1,070) Feb 21, 2016 Delaware
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    Without reading anyone else's response to the OP question: To me, it's really quite simple. There are so many different flavor profiles from the brewing, it's hard to NOT like them.. once you get beyond the bitterness those 1st few IPA's present.

    True fact. My son-in-law gave me my 1st IPA. About halfway through it, I looked him right in the eye and said: Are you nuts??
     
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  39. pro100

    pro100 Initiate (106) Oct 12, 2014 California

    Yep so much and now he's deep inhaling "German Hops" on tv adds like they're the gospel. Unbelievable. SMH
     
  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,046) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Not quite sure what's "Unbelievable" about those things? Seems to me to be business as usual for BBC.

    Koch has been promoting SABL's German hops since the very beginning and Boston Beer Co. had an IPA on the market by the late 1990s - and, as noted above by @TongoRad, their subsidiary, Oregon Beer and Ale Co., had a well-distributed India Pale Ale released in the middle of that decade.

    [​IMG]