How many sub-styles of IPA should exist on BA?

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by JackHorzempa, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,674) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    I always reckoned that what we, in the US, classified a beer as English Style IPA had more balance ie had a solid malt backbone that wasn't shy to let itself known. Bridgeport IPA, I thought, was the classic US brewed English style IPA.

    Then I tried some IPAs from the UK and they can be just as hoppy as most everything brewed in the US.
  2. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (688) Mar 12, 2013 California

    I'm sorry I so offended you Dave, wasn't my intent at all. I agree that we should reduce, not increase the number of ipa substyles, I just disagree that 1, spanning everything from SNPA thorough Pliny and treehouse neipas and the other 80,000 plus beers included in the current styles makes anything easier on anyone. You say the marketing terms on labels are standardised and easy to understand but that hasn't been my experience, and not all breweries put any meaningful descriptors on their packaging. It seems to me that the benefit of this site's style categories is that if I find a beer I love, I can look it up and find similar beers (maybe more available, maybe more esteemed). But with the variety present in the hoppy pale ale realm just having one category eliminates that function completely. Any who, thanks for the offer of the last word, quite big of you, but I look forward to your continued contributions
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  3. Gkruszewski

    Gkruszewski Poo-Bah (1,775) Nov 1, 2013 New York
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    I feel DDH and Triples should have their own lists...usually they take the original IPA and juice it up... in most cases the DDH are better
  4. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,330) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Can we agree it opened the door for ugly beer?
  5. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,330) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    That's a whole other can of worms and a personal pet peeve of mine. If I grab a can or bottle and cant determine what the hell is contained inside I am going to have to make a hard pass. The only brewer I will let get away with that is jacks abbey, don't ask why. Imagine my surprise when I opened heavy trommel and didnt pour out a kellerpils. Its labeled, but I didnt catch it. But I digress, a short description should be on the can or bottle for consumers.
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  6. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    On the subject of Toppling Goliath, they started distributing here last year and their beers don't stand out as notably different than what most breweries cranking out NE IPAs here are making (and they were more excitedly embraced than many out of state additions to our landscape).

    Maybe what passes for NE IPAs is quite different in other parts of the country, but around here it would feel like a bit of a "No True Scottsman" fallacy to try and carve out an NE IPA category distinction that didn't include them.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  7. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (6,694) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    I don't think that means what you think it means.
  8. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Maybe, but it is pretty close to what the Brewers Association does with its definition of craft brewer! :wink:
  9. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    This is probably true, at least in part. Without access to the "True Scotsman" NEIPAs :wink:, I have to make do, referring to such things as the BJCP style guidelines.

    Here in MN, there was a recent beer festival focused entirely on "Hazy IPAs" and none of the beers being sampled were identified. The attendees were asked to rate each of the beers in this blind tasting against the BJCP guidelines (but, of course, since the attendees were not certified BJCP judges, I seriously doubt it was anything more than a "what I like" rating, sufficiently lubricated toward the end ... but never mind...)

    (Trust me... I'm going somewhere with this...)

    The winner of this tasting was Fair State Mirror Universe Hazy IPA. Surly One Man Mosh Pit Hazy IPA came in near the top (4th maybe?). Both are brewers of some renown who have a track record of knowing what they are doing.

    So, I've set myself a little task. A test test of my own: Mirror Universe - One Man Mosh Pit - Fire, Skulls, and Money against the BJCP guidelines for 21B Specialty IPA: New England IPA.

    The TG beer is not at my usual stores, but I'm hoping to find it soon. The other two I picked up yesterday.

    I'm doing this for my own entertainment, but...

    I'll let you know how these three compare (of course, leaving open the declaration that none are "True Scotsmen" :wink:). If I can find the FSM by then, check out the next upcoming NBS thread.
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  10. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,037) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I do have to admit their “Kellerbier” series can be a bit confusing to the consumer.

    So many Kellerbiers are pale lagers that I don’t blame someone for expecting this.

    Thank you. Now I know I’m not crazy.

    I wish the Toppling Goliath thread was still going in the New England forum. The way people discussed their beers they fit right in with the other New England IPAs in the area.

    I look forward to your results!
    SFACRKnight and meefmoff like this.
  11. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    So I was inspired by @tzieser who ran out in the middle of a thread last week, did an experiment, and reported back. I stopped at the store on my way home and am going to put a Toppling Goliath beer up against two local NE IPAs blind and see what the hell happens as I'm genuinely curious. The field consists of:


    1. Wachusett's Wally: Wachusett is an older school brewery probably roughly similar in size to TG. They were most well known by geeks for their excellent west coast DIPA Larry but they've always made all sorts of stuff. Wally is part of their newly added lineup of NE beers which also includes a session (Wally Jr.) and a double (Sir Walter). It appears to be doing very well for them. Canned on 5/23. 7% ABV.

    2. Exhibit A's The Cat's Meow: Exhibit A is a newer, smaller brewery (they brew in Jack's Abby's original space) known mostly for their NE IPAs and their very well regarded Kolsch. Canned on 6/24. 6.5% ABV.

    3. Toppling Goliath's Galaxy Hopped Pseudo Sue: I've only ever had Pseudo Sue and King Sue (both of which I enjoyed) so I thought I'd get a new beer experience mixed in with the tasting. Best by date of 10/16 so not sure of the details but should be reasonably fresh . 6.2% ABV.

    I labeled the cans A, B and C and then wrote the letters on the undersides of solo cups. I poured them, moved them around, and distracted myself for a couple of minutes. I'm going to refer to them left to right as 1, 2, and 3. I think back to back tastings of big hoppy beers like this tends to blow out your palate a bit, but we should at least to be able to get a ballpark sense of things. Here's my thoughts:


    1: hazy honey brown, small white short lasting head, no floaties or chunks
    2: hazy pale yellow/orange, small white slightly longer lasting head, no floaties or chunks
    3: hazy pale orange/yellow, small white long lasting head, no floaties or chunks

    1: sharp, pineapple, orange rind, a little honey, a little piney dankness
    2: muddled, orange, some of that "over ripe" tropical fruit smell that I don't like, vague wheaty malt. Less nose than (1)
    3: sharp, pineapple, lemon, whisp of light wheaty malt. More nose than (2) and less than (1)

    1: lots of orange zest, a bit of earthy pine, some honey sweetness, seems a little malty for an NE, moderate lingering bitterness on the back end, finishes a little sharp and dry
    2: more of that overipe fruit, oranges, a little onion, low-moderate bitterness on the back end, finish is rounded
    3: lemon, orange zest, a faint hint of pine, similar bitterness to (2), finishes somewhat sharp


    1: Feels full and thick and somewhat heavy in the mouth. Somewhat soft mouthfeel but it doesn't scream pillowy or anything. Finishes somewhat sharp.
    2: Feels full and thick but somehow lighter in the mouth. Very soft mouthfeel with a very, rounded finish.
    3: Kind of right in between the other two. Fairly soft but with more of a light, sharp finish than either (1) or (2)


    My order of preference would be (1), (3), (2) with (2) being comfortably behind the other two. I don't like the over ripe fruit character and the nose and flavor were a bit muddled compared to the other two. (1) had just a ton of flavor and a great nose though it also had the highest ABV. If there is a beer of these 3 that strikes me as flirting with not being an NE IPA it would be (1) because it has a fairly heavy traditional malt presence, as possibly indicated by the darker color.

    The reveal!


    1 = Wachusett Wally
    2 = TG Galaxy Pseudo Sue
    3 = Exhibit A Cat's Meow

    It's worth noting that Wally is easily the cheapest and most widely available of the 3 at about $12 a six pack. Also, it just so happens I went to Treehouse for the first time in ages a couple weeks back and entered one of their DIPAs as my New Beer Sunday entry, so if anyone wants to compare these 3 beers to my impressions of a Treehouse beer to see how they sit with what some would call the canonical NE IPA brewery you can do so here:

    This was fun! Hopefully it was at least mildly informative.
  12. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    Ha! I didn't mean to steal your bit but didn't see this before I embarked on my post. With an N of 2 we'll really be cooking with gas! :grin:
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  13. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    Eh, seems close enough for government work. Moving around the definition of something to include things you like and exclude things you don't like is the gist.

    Toppling Goliath is good
    No True NE IPA can be good
    Therefore Toppling Goliath is not an NE IPA
    Toppling Goliath is not a counter example to the fact that NE IPAs are not good
  14. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    On re-read I can see where the ambiguity of my use of the "no True Scottsmen" reference is coming from. My point was not that IPAs outside of New England can't be NE IPAs. My point was that most of the NE IPAs we have around here seem quite similar to Toppling Goliath's offerings, so if one wanted to put them in a different category it would feel pretty arbitrary to me (and I now have a blind tasting to confirm that opinion! :sunglasses:).

    I was specifically trying leave open the possibility that TG might indeed be different enough from the median NE IPA in other regions for that proposed difference to not be so arbitrary.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  15. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    All's good. Looks like I'll have to substitute for Fire, Skulls, & Money... all the stores are sold out.
  16. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I know what you meant... I was just having a little word fun in light of @Sabtos's post. :wink:
    meefmoff likes this.
  17. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Not necessarily... maybe you're both crazy! :grin::stuck_out_tongue:
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  18. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,037) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    But...Toppling Goliath doesn't make New England IPAs!!! @MNAle :wink:

    My initial thoughts are that the Wally was two months old. That's a bit old for a New England IPA, even though you preferred it, I wonder if that had any influence? I also noticed it looked a little clearer and less turbid than the other two, and you mentioned more of a malt presence. I also recall not thinking of Wally as 100% a New England IPA. Maybe a bit of a 'tweener. Do you like Heady Topper, Sip, Focal...etc.?

    Also, the TG might be the freshest of the three. I realize there's only a best by date, but this beer JUST hit our area, so it's possible.

    Finally, is it also possible you don't like Galaxy?
    meefmoff likes this.
  19. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (6,694) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    This conversation

  20. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I'll let you know... although I've run into a bit of a snag... Fire, Skulls, & Money is not on the shelves (or in the coolers) right now. I might have to go with King Sue, but I didn't think that beer was as bitter as FS&M back in the bomber days...

    Maybe I'll just put off the whole thing until FS&M is back.

    Nah... I'll do SOMETHING.... after all, I have Mirror Universe and Mosh Pit taking up space in my refrigerator!

    Anyone have any suggestions for the most un-NEIPA-like TG beer listed on this site as a NEIPA?
    AlcahueteJ and meefmoff like this.
  21. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    Now you've lost me.
  22. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    I'm too lazy to carve out the quotes so I'll just try to answer in order.

    1. The age could explain the malt coming through a bit more, but it seemed like a "heavier" type of malt regardless and the nose was crazy good, so I don't think it had suffered too much on the age front. I agree on it trending 'tweener'.

    2. The photo didn't look like real life color wise and Wally was in a narrower glass. It was browner than it appeared and not notably less hazy/turbid

    3. Heady's my favorite IPA and Alchemist is my favorite hoppy brewery ya dingus!

    4. Honestly I don't really keep track of hops very much past noting C-hop vs. New Hop and that Citra is yummy. I generally don't seek out or avoid things based on what specific hops they feature and don't really have any predisposed opinions about Galaxy one way or the other beyond knowing it's not a C-hop. It's definitely possible that I'm not a big fan of Galaxy and have simply never put the 2 and 2 together though (makes mental note).

    5. Some googling brought me to the Midwest forum where people seem to think the Best Buy range for TG beers is 120 days. That would put it canned around mid June so not meaningfully different than Exhibit A.
    #142 meefmoff, Jul 24, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
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  23. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,037) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Hmm, trying to think which one's I've had, because they've all tasted like New England IPAs to me, and looked the part as well.

    I've had King Sue, Pseudo Sue, Sosus, FSM, Pompeii, Golden Nugget, and maybe Hopsmack and Scorpius Morchella? It's hard to remember now, I should like review or something...

    King Sue I don't really like, but I'm not big on Citra. My favorites have been FSM and Golden Nugget. I dunno, pick any of the above (except maybe regular Pseudo Sue) which is the freshest.

    You could always choose Galaxy Pseudo Sue to match @meefmoff 's experiment.

    @meefmoff any help here?

    That might explain your preference for Wally then.

    Isn't Citra a "C-hop"? :wink:
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  24. ovaltine

    ovaltine Poo-Bah (2,671) Apr 6, 2010 Indiana
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    So it’s a Midwestern (they’re in Iowa using Iowan water) Western (bitter, truly it is) NE (very hazy) IPA. If they added some Brett it would add Belgian and achieve the much discussed but rarely seen “Grand Slam IPA.”

    Which could be a new category.
    stevepat, AlcahueteJ and MNAle like this.
  25. meefmoff

    meefmoff Defender (644) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    No sorry. I've only had the three I mentioned (Pseudo, King, and Galaxy Pseudo) and they all seemed in the same ballpark to me.

    And yeah, Heady is my sweetspot, so the closer things are to that midpoint on the spectrum (as I like to think of it) the more I tend to like them. For instance, I much prefer Sap to Julius just as an obvious example.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  26. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    @AlcahueteJ, @meefmoff ... I think I've located a 4 pack of FSM, with a little help from my friends over at the Twin Cities Bottle Hunt - 2019 thread ... at least the guy at the liquor store said he had one and said he would hold it for me!

    So, what started as an experiment to determine:
    • Has FSM changed, especially in ways to make it more like the style standard for NEIPA, since the Original-Decorah-Brewery bomber past to the New-Decorah-Brewery canned beer distributed hither and yon present (IOW, a taste test against my memory... dangerous, that...)
    has morphed into an trying to determine:
    • Is the new TG FSM actually a NEIPA, or just a hazy AIPA or even WCIPA by conducting a taste test with a couple of 3rd generation Scotsmen :wink: now living in MN!
      (Leaving completely open the argument that No True Scotsman would live in MN!) :grin:
    So, it may finally happen! But, these other TG beers...

    (the problem with my little self-generated tastings.... they always seem to grow out of control... )

    Maybe I should add King Sue to the mix... or perhaps Twisted Galaxy (even though I never had it in a bomber...) (.. stop that!) :flushed:
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  27. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,037) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Do we also need double and triple Grand Slam IPAs?
    ovaltine likes this.
  28. CheapHysterics

    CheapHysterics Aspirant (223) Apr 1, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Then my favorite IPAs are pilseners and stouts.
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  29. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,310) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    The industry calls those IPLs and black IPAs. :wink:
  30. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,037) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    You know, I know you're making a joke, but then I thought, it REALLY does apply to any style.

    Want a Hefeweizen? There's hoppy wheat beers (see Lil' Sumpin' Sumpin').

    You want a sour, there's obviously sour IPAs.
    zid likes this.
  31. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (597) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    I've long ago discarded IPA as being any kind of "Style" To me it is only a loosely defined flavor descriptor that indicates that the beer has some sort of hops as a major component. IPA is a marketing shorthand for hoppy, so is the term "India"
  32. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,310) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    My wife is fond of saying after I make a “joke,” “There’s some truth in every joke.” :smirk:
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  33. terryNYC

    terryNYC Initiate (34) Oct 6, 2015 New York

    In 19th Century England the historical terms had meaning. Today the historical terms are no longer useful, but rather are an encumbrance, especially in light of the many variants already made, and those not yet imagined.

    A better approach would be to enable a multivariate query on a single category of Pale Ales using unambiguous objective data points such as:

    * Hops -- European or New World
    * IBU
    * ABV%
    * Appearance: hazy, white, red, black
    * Origin: country, country + state
    * Brewery Name
    * Beer Name
    * BA score
    * BA rank
    maybe others that, off the top of my head I'm not thinking of.

    All the data exists in the BA database now that is needed to enable this, and it really would simplfy searches and increase utility. Looking for a "session" (4.5 %ABV) NEIPA (New World hops; IBU 70 max; Appearance: hazy) from Origin: NYS; no problem. I must point out that a query would not have to include every search term, just those of immediate interest to the user.

    The sole potential downside to doing this is that the (presumably) SQL RDBMS backend might require more robust hardware as it would be doing more processing; Todd & Jason would know if this is the case.
  34. VoxRationis

    VoxRationis Poo-Bah (1,674) Dec 11, 2016 New York
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    How about an infinite number? Apropos of this, I can see the six sub-styles in current use on the site as adding value, but the classification system will lose all meaning as soon as it becomes too granular.
    stevepat likes this.
  35. defunksta

    defunksta Devotee (494) Jan 18, 2019 Illinois

    I would vote for adding a West-Coast style, a Session IPA style, and let the existing American IPA umbrella the midwest category. Yes, in the future the NEIPA might expand based on components of juicy, hazy, and bitterness, but for now it should remain one style.
  36. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (688) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Ya I think youre on the right track, there's usefulness in some distinction within the broad style but I think we're already overly styled.
    Whatever we want to call the style that is more malt dominant with a more subtle hop presence, whatever we want to call the style that is super assertively hopped with a much reduced focus on the malt bill, and the new school/neipa with the focus on the less bitter flavors of hops and a thicker /softer mouthfeel seems like a useful breakdown for people looking to find more beers that match the IPAs they like
    meefmoff and VoxRationis like this.
  37. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Well, I did do the comparison tasting of Fire, Skulls, & Money, plus two MN-brewed hazy IPAs. You can find it in the New Beer Sunday (Week 753) thread.

    A couple of comments.

    @AlcahueteJ ... you are correct. It is a different beer. Different ABV. Different color. Different aroma. Different taste. FS&M as currently brewed - I have no issue with it being categorized as a NEIPA.

    I attempted to do that tasting against the BJCP style guidelines, as if I was judging a competition where faithfulness to style was a major factor. One thing I discovered is that my judgement was considerably more harsh, and lower rated, and my "normal" beer reviews, even though I do try to keep style in mind when reviewing beer.

    I've had a day to think about why that was, and I think it stems from the rules I set for myself. I established a "meets style guidelines" baseline rating as 3.5, and required something better than just meeting the guidelines to add to that, and deducted points for faults identified in the guidelines. That's a pretty rigid and harsh method. I expect my real reviews (which have a baseline more like 3.75 and don't have a deduction / addition of points rigor) to be a bit more generous.

    I have no idea which is better, but I like my "normal" method. Strictly judging to style using the BJCP style guidelines is too rigid and not as much fun. JMO.
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  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,037) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Ok, good, none of us is crazy then. Or we all are.
    MNAle likes this.
  39. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,933) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I've enjoyed hearing your thoughts both on Sunday and the reflections today. It's this distinction between rating to style and rating keeping style in mind which is, as you seem to think as well, whice is the critical one for us in rating on this site. The owners ask of us only that we rate with style in mind. (One of my examples is "don't ding a 13% barley wine for not having a head like an IPA.)

    Your normal method is exactly my normal method and expecting more from users on this site simply won't work.

    Thanks again for you careful efforts.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  40. islay

    islay Aspirant (276) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    I just want to register my firm disagreement on Fire, Skulls & Money. While it's probably the "juiciest" Toppling Goliath IPA, has low bitterness by Toppling Goliath standards, and therefore tastes most similar to an NEIPA of the beers in Toppling Goliath's lineup, it still is a more direct derivative of a WCIPA, with Toppling Goliath's signature spin that predates NEIPAs, along with some NEIPA influence that infects most IPAs these days. It's a hybrid pre-NEIPA/post-NEIPA. I think it's a fantastic example of an IPA that can easily be mistaken for an NEIPA without actually being one.