How to classify India Pale Lagers?

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by stevepat, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (647) Mar 12, 2013 California

    I have been adding them under the American Lager category. I don't know if there is a better style category that I am just missing but I was surprised to not find an IPL category so I figured I'd make sure American Lager is the right classification
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  2. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,871) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Yes, they go in the American Lager Category.

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  3. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (105) Mar 15, 2014 California

    What you've been doing sounds fine, it's definitely an American Lager with the volume turned up in certain areas (hops, strength, etc.), yet I don't know if there's enough of them to warrant it's own category.
    stevepat likes this.
  4. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (647) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Awesome thanks, that makes sense. I am a bit surprised there isn't an IPL category but I suppose we certainly don't need more. And for IPL fans out there, I can't recommend highly enough the stuff Sudwerk has been canning these past few years.
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  5. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,307) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    Should be filed under "gimmick".
  6. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (647) Mar 12, 2013 California

    do you just mean the name? or do you think a heavily hopped lager is a gimmick? what's your definition of gimmick?
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  7. BruChef

    BruChef Initiate (198) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    Would you really classify some of the beers that Jack’s Abby makes as gimmicky?
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  8. rudzud

    rudzud Poo-Bah (6,164) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    The guy is from CT; if it's not a Fox Farm beer it's a gimmick.
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  9. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,307) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    I meant to say the idea of an IPL Is a gimmick. “We want An IPA but are going to hop the hell out of a lager”

    While we are at it, can breweries please stop releasing pale ales and calling them “pilseners”?
  10. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (647) Mar 12, 2013 California

    I see IPLs coming from the same desire as session IPAs, trying to create a flavorful hoppy beer that is lighter than your typical IPA
  11. honkey

    honkey Zealot (555) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Society Industry

    I still don’t see how that’s a gimmick... To me, I think if I’m brewing a West Coast IPA, one of the factors that makes world class examples of the style is the dryness and a crisp mouthfeel. Both of those can be taken to the extreme with lager yeast which can ferment some sugars that ale yeast can’t and since lager yeast typically produces about half the amount of esters as ale yeast, it helps to take crispness and drinkability to the extreme. If I brew a beer that way, why would I call it anything other than an IPL? It’s the most accurate way of describing the goal of the beer.

    My issue with the “pils” trend is that a lot of breweries are listing the style specifically as German Pils on their Untappd profiles which then gets listed on menus in bars that use Untappd for their menu screens. I think the style is actually pretty interesting and one of my favorites to drink, but I’d rather see them listed as American Lager or have an American Pils counterpart.
  12. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (145) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    Maybe because the beer has virtually nothing to do with India?
  13. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (647) Mar 12, 2013 California

    but that's just the equivalent of complaining about french fries having nothing to do with france. The terminology is internally consistent in the beer world even it doesn't make a lot of sense against the backdrop of the outside world
  14. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,703) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    Don't see it as being gimmicky, honestly love a good IPL. It has all the best pieces of an IPA and a pilsner. Nothing better than a hoppy beer with a crisp dry finish. I also find that when it is done with a single hop, it really showcases that hops potential. Local brewery was doing a series of single hop lagers and they were really special.
  15. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat

    What makes it "India"? Does any given beer, regardless of style, given X amount of hops, become "India"?

    India Quad Ale?

    India Saison Ale?

    India Stout Ale?

    India Hopposhu Ale?

    Help a brother out here, what are the parameters?
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  16. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (996) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Jack's Abby's IPLs are hardly session strength.

    Hoponius is 6.5%

    Excess IPL is 7.2%

    Mass Rising is 8.0%

    Kiwi Rising is 8.5%

    I think "gimmick" is a bit harsh here.

    But I understand what @keithmurray is saying.

    Let me start by saying I think Jack's Abby makes some great beers, and their IPLs are definitely good beers. I'm partial to their more "traditional" styles, but that's a separate story.

    You're a brewer, so you might be able to pick out an IPL among a line-up of West Coast IPAs.

    But do you think a regular beer consumer could pick out Hoponius Union in a blind tasting with West Coast IPAs? Do you think they'd even prefer it?

    I also think the style never really took off, because a lager yeast (which has benefits as you've outlined) still isn't the best vehicle for showcasing hops.

    Hoponius is the highest rated "American Lager" on this site at 4.24. This would be a fairly pedestrian rating for a New England IPA, or even the "American IPA" category on this web site.

    Jack's Abby has stated before that they don't use their more expensive German malts on their IPLs because the malt profile would get lost among the hop profile of these beers.

    For my palate, if I want a lot of hops, I'll grab an IPA. I like what the ale yeast brings to the table with a large amount of hops.

    And if I want a crisp, hop forward beer, with a nice bready malt back bone, I'll grab a German Pils.

    To me, an IPL takes away both of those aspects that I love in each style.

    Personally the best piece of a Pilsner is nailing those bready Pils malt characteristics. The hops add a nice complementary piece to the style, but they're not the showcase.

    My point being, IPLs bury most of that malt backbone for my palate.
  17. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (228) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    I think the "style" never took off because you can get basically the same beer using neutral ale yeast. Just like JA doesn't bother with German malts, they wouldn't bother with lager yeast if it weren't part of their brand identity.
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  18. stevepat

    stevepat Defender (647) Mar 12, 2013 California

    That seems to be the convention, although I have noticed a shift toward labeling overly hopped examples of traditional european styles as 'american' i.e. american stout, american barleywine. I think IPL is also a nod to the fact that the style is essentially an IPA made as a lager.
  19. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (266) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    I've noticed this in many "pilsners" put out by breweries better known for their IPA's. They're usually described as "an American (or modern) take", list multiple American hops, and consider the malts as an afterthought. They make what they call pilsners for IPA drinkers. It could very well be time for German & Bohemian to be joined by American as separate pilsner styles

    Have you noticed the difference between Post Shift and Sunny Ridge? They are both Jack's pilsners, but have noticeably different profiles with Post being a hoppier "American" style and Sunny being more what I think of as "European". I enjoy both, but prefer the taste of Sunny Ridge.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  20. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (996) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    To be honest I haven't noticed Post Shift to be hoppier necessarily, but I do prefer Sunny Ridge, as I feel it's closer to what I come to expect from a German Pils.

    Although Post Shift has grown on me over the years, but I still prefer Sunny Ridge. I should do a side by side though while I have the opportunity.
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  21. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (266) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    I realized the difference with an accidental taste test a while back. I finished a Post Shift and then opened my first ever Sunny Ridge.
    Sunny is much closer to the german style I prefer, unfortunately it's been pulled from the shelves and replaced with their tropical IPL.
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  22. honkey

    honkey Zealot (555) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Society Industry

    I don’t know Jack’s Abby beers all that well so I can’t speak towards whether or not that particular beer would stand out in a lineup with IPA’s, but I do know that every IPL I’ve brewed is easily distinguishable from my IPA’s.

    I think just like with ale yeast strains, some lager strains show off hops better than others do. I find the unique ester profile of Augustiner Lager yeast to be a fantastic compliment to American hops. I find the perception of bitterness to be higher than what the IBU’s actually are when brewing IPL’s, so for me it’s all about hopbursting when brewing those beers.

    While I have respect for Jack’s Abby, I think saying that the malts don’t need to be their “expensive” malts for hoppy beers is one of the most absurd things and speaking in general terms, when I hear brewers make that comment (which is shockingly frequent) I lose some respect for them. Just between the 3 Weyermann Pils malts that I use (Extra Pale, regular Pils, and Bohemian Floor Malted Pils) there are huge differences that are noticeable even when I’m hopping in excess of 8 lbs of hops per bbl.
  23. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (996) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    This was from a post I made in 2013, so perhaps their recipes have changed.

    This is from an interview with Jack Hendler.

    'On the question, "Do you use a different grain bill for an IPL than a traditional lager?"

    Jack Hendler from Jack's Abby replies: "For extra-hoppy American-hopped IPLs, a neutral 2-row malt works best to minimize competing flavors. Why buy expensive and unique base malt when those flavors will only get muted out and negatively affect the hop character?"

    On the question, "What type of balance are you looking for in your IPL?"

    Hendler replies, "Balance can come in many forms, it's not just a malt-to-hop balance. You can balance bitterness with aroma, yeast flavor with hops, malt with alcohol, etc. Most of our IPLs tend to minimize malt and highlight hops."'

    Do you think your customers could notice?

    I can't speak to your IPLs obviously, and I have no idea what yeast strain Jack's Abby is using either.

    But personally the Pils malt profile takes a backseat in the IPLs I've had that I recall using them (I don't drink them often, so it's hard to say in recent memory which may have used Pils malt).

    I definitely know some New England IPAs that use them (off the top of my head I know Trillium does) and there's no way in hell I'm getting sweet bready flavors from a New England IPA.
  24. honkey

    honkey Zealot (555) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Society Industry

    I would be surprised if our customers couldn’t tell a difference between the 3. The Bohemian Floor Malted Pils has a very intense bready flavor with a light hay character in there. It is also relatively sweet and it contributes to the best head retention of the three. The Extra Pale Premium Pils has a honey-like component to it and the original Pils is probably most in line with what we think of Pils Malt tasting like.

    In my NEIPA’s I normally use Floor Malted Maris Otter and then I have a series of beers (called Bright and Juicy) that features Floor Malted Bohemian Pils since it allows the “brighter” hop flavors from hops like Amarillo and Nelson, (flavors like red grapefruit, key lime, kiwi, etc) to shine whereas the Maris Otter provides a base that I feel is better for more intense hop flavors like you normally find in Citra and Mosaic (melon, cantaloupe, peach, overripe blueberries, etc.). In a similar manner, I use the hop profiles in my IPL’s to determine which of the Pils malts to use.
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  25. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Initiate (194) Aug 2, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Calling IPL a gimmick hurts my soul, especially when I remember how many people called Brut IPA the "next big thing" and the "trendy new style in beer". IPL's are fun changes of pace, hope they eventually become more prominent.
  26. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (217) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    Could just be the distribution in my area but I honestly didn't know this was still a thing. Pretty sure during the brief time that it seemed to be a fad that Ballast Point Fathom was labeled as one (not anymore) but I could be remembering that wrong
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  27. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (265) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Why not stick with a pilsner, then?
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  28. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,040) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Yeah, this is wrong.

    That's okay though; we're all wrong sometimes.
  29. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,307) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut


    That’s like, your opinion, man :wink::grin::innocent::relieved::beer::beers::beer:
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  30. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,703) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    Well that is debatable on when does a hoppy pilsner become an IPL. Most of these beers were hopped at a higher rate than your traditional German pils. And used a range of hops not usually used in pilsners. I guess they could be classified as an Italian pils, or New Zealand pils (when they used Southern Hemisphere hops) but not sure what the IBU's were on those brewed.
  31. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (996) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Northern German Pilsners, especially fresh from the source, are pretty darn hoppy.

    Not as hoppy as an IPL though. I would say when you can long detect an appreciable amount of Pils malt is when it ceases to be a Pilsner. Or at the very least, when the balance becomes skewed heavily towards the hops in the beer, and not the malt.

    Because the style is called a PILSNER.
  32. HIGHPA

    HIGHPA Initiate (141) Aug 21, 2008 Illinois

    "Would you give a guy a foot massage?"
    What makes it "India"? I would say bits of both sides make sense here. What does an DIPA have to do with India? Isn't it just an over hopped Strong Ale? I think the difference between Lager and Ale is big. Especially to a brewer. An ale could be fermented in days and lagers can take months. One ferments on top and one ferments on the bottom. I think it's more than semantics here. If you can have a NEIPA, there is room for an IPL. Especially if you start seeing more breweries pumping out lagers that are that hoppy possibly at such abv above the normal American Lager. If Germany didnt invent the style and name for a Kolsch, that could be something that could be argued in the same regard as what's being argued here. Argued or discussed. More semantics I guess. I think the term Sour IPA is way more of a WTF?
    Cheers everybody!
    Roguer likes this.
  33. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,833) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Personally no, I think they make great beers, if there’s a gimmick here it’s lost on me. I’d love to be able to buy their beers.
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  34. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (32) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    Yes, to this right here. I love this really puts the hops on center stage
  35. Claude-Irishman

    Claude-Irishman Crusader (706) Jun 4, 2015 New Jersey

    Carton brewed an " Imperial Pale Ale" which I did not quite get. Tasted like an IPA. I always considered the APA the baby brother of AIPA-
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  36. considerbeer

    considerbeer Initiate (35) Dec 15, 2016 Colorado

    India Pale Lager should definitely have a category distinct from "American Lager" whether you dig IPLs or not. Any brewery in this country stuffing their lagers with 50+ IBUs of American hops will not simply call their beer "American Lager." The two most-rated American Lagers on this site's listing are Longboard Island Lager and Hoponius Union; those beers are obviously worlds apart in terms of style intention. That would be akin to lumping blonde ales and IPAs together in an "American Ale" category.

    Most of the new American-style lagers coming out exist somewhere on the continuum of CAP -- Helles -- Pils. This is actually a huge frustration when breweries come out with a new lager and just label is "Premium Lager" or some crap in the stores with no real indication of what it's supposed to taste like other than "crisp."
  37. RobH

    RobH Defender (622) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    My suggestion is to categorize IPLs in the American Imperial Pilsener category
    This is where they have been categorized over the years in the past. The higher levels of hop character in an "IPL" are a better fit for this category than the basic American Lager category, IMO.
  38. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (266) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    First time I've read the American Imperial Pilsner description. Based on the flavor profile you could make an argument for merging India Pale Lager & American Imperial Pilsner into a catagory called Imperial Pale Lager.
  39. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,211) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I've never had an IPL that had "...a more pronounced malty backbone..." or "Malt flavors (that) tend to be quite sweet..."

    The IPLs I've tasted have been pretty thin in the malt flavor category and over-hopped with American hops.

    The Imperial Pilsner is, basically, a hopped up Maibock.
  40. oldbean

    oldbean Disciple (329) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    I would eliminate the Imperial Pilsner category before I'd start shoehorning more stuff that doesn't belong into it.
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