Iconic Craft Breweries Are Completely Surrendering to IPA Dominance

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Todd, Jul 30, 2022.


Which IPA camp are you in?

  1. 1. IPA Dominators

    104 vote(s)
  2. 2. IPA Doomers

    117 vote(s)
  3. 3. IPA Agnostics

    411 vote(s)
  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,682) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    In this piece from Paste, Jim Vorel breaks "craft beer geeks" into three camps:
    ...and then discusses how tragic it is that iconic breweries like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Stone, and Lagunitas have succumbed to India Pale Ale, removed or zombified most other styles from their portfolios, and the impact of focusing on a single beer style category.

    Which camp are you in? Vote and discuss!
  2. Stormfield

    Stormfield Aspirant (229) Feb 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    I fluctuate somewhere between camps 2 & 3, depending on mood.
  3. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,682) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Same. Just added a poll. Pick the one that you mostly reside in.
  4. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,560) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Camp 3 most closely describes my feeling. But I do appreciate the evolution of IPAs over the years and the proliferation of hop varieties. To a certain extent I understand the excitement folks feel for IPAs.

    Anyway, I find enough variety across styles I enjoy to keep me happy. We are still firmly in the Golden age of beer as far as I'm concerned.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I suppose I am category 4:

    4. I enjoy drinking IPAs but after picking up a half-dozen IPA brands at my local beer retailer and seeing how old they are I just put them back down on the shelf (or floor) and leave without buying them.

    While it has the appearance there are a lot of IPA choices to be purchased, if you desire to drink an IPA that is fresh (i.e., a vibrant hop aroma and flavor) then these are all too often false choices.

    One example: I was a big fan of Sierra Nevada Dankful IPA when it was first released in my area (October 2020). From October – December 2020 I purchased at least 5 six-packs of Dankful IPA but from 2021 to today I have never seen a fresh six-pack of Dankful at my local beer retailers. A couple of months ago at my local Wegmans supermarket there were Dankful six-packs that were a year old. While it is possible I may someday see a fresh pack of Dankful IPA, the past 19 months would indicate otherwise.

    Do we really need more and more IPA brands collecting dust at beer retailers?

  6. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (8,559) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Mostly #2 which is how I voted. I like IPAs, I just enjoy most other styles too, so it's frusterating to go to a restaurant or bar and half the taplist is IPAs.

    And same thing going to the beer store- shelves are chock full of endless hazy IPA cans, but if I want something like a schwarzbier I have a hard time finding one.
  7. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (8,229) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    I don't begrudge the IPA train other than at the cost of styles that I dig more. In the days of few IPAs, that's how I arrived with my username. Now it could be Lagerbill, Pilsnerbill, Kolschbill...:slight_smile:
  8. MadMadMike

    MadMadMike Devotee (407) Dec 11, 2020 Florida
    Society Trader

    Love the IPAs and have my faves. But it’s become intimidating to have 50 breweries offering 3 tweaks on the style staring at me at my bottle shop.
    The good thing is that there’s an upper crust (Equillibrium, Knee Deep, etc.) popping out great stuff.
    Plus, we have a great local brewery (Palm City Brewing) here in SW FL that sells world class IPAs in crowlers fresh from the tit.
    Imperial Stout has my heart, but good IPAs have my daily allowance.,
  9. Shanex

    Shanex Poo-Bah (1,815) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Society Trader

    I love a well crafted IPA/WCIPA/NEIPA and there are more than a handful of them, but there’s no way I want it and a now quite old and long trend and rightful love for this style to displace or downright remove other style from the shelves whether in specific stores or in more generic supermarkets.

    Speaking as a frenchie, I’m more than glad to have more IPAs now regardless of the source and countries, but here we are in dire need of many German styles I normally crave.

    I’m not blaming anyone about it, maybe the IPA dominators to an extent but they’re probably a minority here.

    I’m in Camp 3 in case it wasn’t clear.
  10. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Poo-Bah (1,918) Apr 21, 2014 Canada (ON)
    Society Trader

    Despite the plethora of IPAs, it is easier today to get a good example of almost every style imaginable fresh and locally. I like IPAs a lot (all types), but I also like a lot of other styles more. I have no trouble easily finding these other styles at all.
  11. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,632) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I voted #3 because I have no concern about the abundance of IPAs in stores. I'll admit that I mostly buy IPAs (WC version) and mostly ones that I know and like and can get fresh, but as long as I can get fresh seasonals or other classic styles when I want those choices, I don't care what else is on the shelves.
  12. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (2,200) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    I guess I don't worry about it, so I choose 3. I usually drink what I feel like. I will drink a pilsner or IPA more than anything. Last week in Austin I hit up some breweries and found that I drank way more lager than any other style, but then again it was 103 outside. Was at Lazarus and they have a nice sampler board, like 4 8 ounce pours for $19. All 4 that I got were lagers and were pretty damned good, then next brewery was Zilker where I got their light rice Lager banging in at 3.6 ABV. So weather usually dictates what I am drinking.

    On another note I think Breweries are brewing what sells and then mixing in what they want. I think you will find that if a brewery can do a well representation of a style, then it will sell. If you are throwing a pilsner on the menu because you think it needs to be there and it isn't dialed in, then don't blame your customer if they don't buy it. Worse thing in the world is to roll into a brewery and get a shitty beer that had no thought put into it at all.
  13. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,574) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Really? Good, well-brewed German styles like Dunkel and Märzen that don't taste like Schwarzbier or Brown Ale?

    If so, I guess I'm moving to Canada. :wink:
  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,574) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I can't subscribe to any of the titles. I don't like IPA becoming synonymous with "beer" here in the US, but I also enjoy a good one now and again.

    Sierra Nevada may be becoming an IPA-only brewery, but they sure do the style well. Even Torpedo and Dankful stand apart... to my palate, anyway.
  15. Hockeyguy

    Hockeyguy Initiate (16) Jul 9, 2021 Texas

    Definitely #3. As a retailer, I constantly have apologetic conversations with customers looking for other styles as my shelves are over loaded with IPAs of varying styles. My imports have taken a horrendous beating. As a drinker, I do enjoy an IPA at times, but more frequently prefer other styles. Guess I'm an old guy that likes good old "beer flavored beer" most of the time.
  16. IMFletcher

    IMFletcher Crusader (787) May 2, 2014 Kentucky

    I voted for 3 because idc about what's in stores. There's multiple local breweries producing quality WC IPAs, and one that makes good enough haze for when I don't just order Burial or Other Half cans.
  17. Jow13

    Jow13 Disciple (316) Apr 5, 2016 Massachusetts

    I’m a 3 I don’t buy a ton of ipa but sprinkle 1or 2 in. I’m lucky to have access to great lager brewers Notch, Jacks Abby, and Schilling so that dominates bulk of beer runs.
  18. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Poo-Bah (1,918) Apr 21, 2014 Canada (ON)
    Society Trader

    Well, I did say almost.

    I’d agree that those are a couple that are hard to find good examples of. But, five years ago, I couldn’t find a credible dark Czech lager or a Dortmunder or a Grodziske locally. Now I can.
  19. LesDewitt4beer

    LesDewitt4beer Meyvn (1,287) Jan 25, 2021 Minnesota

    Thanks for the tread @Todd. I enjoy having more than one beer per sitting. At many breweries/taprooms it's difficult to do as most choices are ales over 7.5% ABV, are Imperial, 10% ABV Imp Stouts or are sour beers that are gut wrenching to me. Thank goodness for good ol' AALs. I do love ales and I agree that some brewers are kind of anemic (stylistically speaking) in their offerings. I suppose that a brewery must ride the tiger and balance passion and profit with the latter winning most of the time.
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Was there a 'good' selection of German style beers available to you in the recent past but these beers are now displaced by hoppy beers (e.g., IPAs)?

  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am not sure where in Texas you are located; do your customers have choices when it come to European beer styles e.g., do you sell Live Oak, ABGB,...beers?

    Singlefinpin and Shanex like this.

    WCKDVBZ Meyvn (1,491) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    I'm in the "I don't drink IPAs" camp.
    #22 WCKDVBZ, Jul 30, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2022
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    While it is true that the top selling craft beer category is IPA, how much business opportunity does this really present to a brewery to produce more and more IPA brands? When a consumer walks into a beer store and see hundreds of IPA brands to select from, does a given brewery and their multiple IPA brands really sell well for them?

    It seems to me that there is so much (too much?) competition now.

  24. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I find myself most often in the third camp. There are times when I hit the store when I have found myself in each camp. I have found myself standing in front of the shelves thinking to myself "which IPA should I try this time?" in a very excited manner due to the obscene numbers of ipa options available. The very next week I have stood in front of the very same shelves thinking to myself in the most sarcastic tone "wHiCh IpA sHoUlD I TrY tHiS tImE?". Most often it's the third camp where I say to myself "which beer should I try today?". I've chased trends in the past, barrel aged everything, I lived through the ibu wars, defining my masculinity through abv, horse blanket bingo, but gave up around the time haze, pastry, and milkshakes started to show up. I've rated, reviewed, and brewed. It's now about what sounds good at that moment. I don't care what designer hop is fire right now, I don't care if the beer tastes like a black forest cake in a glass, Jamba juice in a can doesn't catch my fancy. I don't want to have to think about and rationalize to myself why I'm drinking something anymore... BUT.... and there's a big but... it's pretty fucking cool that I can go to the store and if I WANT to try a bundt cake beer it's there. If I just have an undying desire to have a berry smoothie beer that night, well that's an option too. If I'm feeling nostalgic and want a dank piney bitter ass ipa, I can get quite a few. If I want a non barrel aged stout around 8% that's something I can get too. I have access to some killer NA beers now, and some low alcohol options as well. If I want to get a one note, no frills, amber or brown I can, and if I want a super delicate uber subtle beer that's dynamic and changes flavors 100 times as it warms its out there too. There may be a LOT of ipas out there, but there are hundreds of other styles executed to perfection on shelves right now and that makes this a great time to be alive and over 21.
  25. lagrluvr

    lagrluvr Aspirant (247) Apr 20, 2021

    craft beer misses once again: there are other camps
  26. Shanex

    Shanex Poo-Bah (1,815) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Society Trader

    Quite honestly I cannot blame the IPA trend for it “only”, but my location is more centric and not close to a specific border with any other Euro countries.

    Meaning that a frenchie from Alsace/Strasbourg would probably not share my sentiments before, and probably has a better selection (of German style) there.

  27. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I bet you write style guidelines for GABF...
  28. LesDewitt4beer

    LesDewitt4beer Meyvn (1,287) Jan 25, 2021 Minnesota

    It's rather to the point actually where a brewery could be in competition with themselves!
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    You are fortunate that you area of Colorado (or maybe all of Colorado?) have "hundreds of other styles" at beer retailers to select. I am pretty sure that many (most?) areas of the US can not make that claim.

    I have read several posts from California BAs where they lament that at their local stores it is basically only IPAs (or other hoppy beer styles) to choose as regards craft beer.


    P.S. For completeness I too have a large selection (I don't know that I would use the term "hundreds") of non-IPAs in my area (SEPA) and I am thankful for this being the situation for my specific area.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yes, when a brewery decides to expand the number of IPA brands it is entirely possible they are cannibalizing sales from their other (existing) IPA brands.

    For the situation of Sierra Nevada it would be interesting to see if they know whether the Hazy Little Things brand(s) directly lead to SNPA sales declining?

  31. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I haven't counted, therefore I can't give you precise numbers, but I would venture a guess that IPA or other hoppy styles make up at least %50 of the options I see on my shelves Jack. Grimm Brothers, a brewery locally known for German styles (I believe I sent you a can of their Kötbusser simply for the novelty), has even put out a hazy ipa in order to offer that option. There is an unarguable proliferation of the style for certain, but I do find it difficult to believe that Californians are somehow suffering a shortage of other styles. I think that many of us can look back on beer and remember a time when we had to hunt down bad examples of a few styles of beer. Remember when Killians Irish red and Michelob doppelbock were as good as it got unless you had a localish microbrewery, a brew pub, or a damned good euro importer? I do. That's when I was just diving in. Fat Tire was sometimes the best beer I could get, and now people compare it to the worst beers ever. Some of the people complaining about a lack of other styles and beers came on after that. In the context of those days, the availability of well executed styles is far greater than that time. If we are simply looking at the last 10 years, yeah, ipas have pushed several styles out the cooler door. Odell used to have a pretty damned impressive portfolio, and now it seems all I see from them is ipa. The glass is still half full for me from that perspective. Founders is everywhere, so is paulaner. Is it the best marzen ever? No. Is it a fine beer that scratches the itch for me in the off season. Damned right.
  32. Spade

    Spade Disciple (335) Mar 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    3 for me, with the caveat that I prefer that IPAs not dominate the market any more than Bud/Miller/Coors and their ilk.

    I'm not proficient in business- is there a way to determine that market saturation is/may be cutting into profits? As others have pointed out, shelves full of old beer collecting dust hardly seems to be an indicator that demand has increased.
  33. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    This may have nothing to do with the styles being brewed. We are in a recession. Discretionary income gets cut, beer may be the first thing to go from people's budget. It was from mine. Due to health reasons I haven't had a beer in over a month. When I do start drinking again all my straggling beers, and cellar gems are going first.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yes, you did. I enjoyed that beer and discussed it in a NBS thread.



    Well, California is geographically a very large state and the craft beer scene is likely markedly different between the large metro areas (e.g., LA, San Diego, Bay area,...) and the more rural inland areas. I traveled a lot to Ridgecreast, CA for business and I can anecdotally report that craft beer choices there are limited.
    On a related note, a few days ago I posted:

    "I have a soft spot in my heart for Stoudts Brewing for several reason. To the best of my recollection my first craft beer (we called them microbrews back then) was Stoudts Gold circa 1990. I didn’t know that beer was a Munich Helles (I didn’t even know there was a beer style Munich Helles back then) but I did know that I enjoyed drinking that beer since it was more-ish as compared to mainstream beers (AAL beers) of that timeframe."

    I basically agree with you there but I feel like I need to emphasize, once again, that the amount of "availability of well executed styles" very much depends where you live. In past threads I have used West Virginia (once again my apologies to the residents of West Virginia here) as an example - there are not "hundreds" of non-IPA choices there. Is the availability of craft beer style choices greater in West Virginia in 2022 vs. 2012? I really do not know the answer here but I do think that the diversity of choices at my local Retail Beer Distributor is much greater than what you would see at a typical West Virginia beer retailer.

  35. BanquetEnjoyer

    BanquetEnjoyer Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2022 New York

    I am a strong IPA doomer. I used to enjoy them but I rarely buy them now, out of disappointment over their dominance.
  36. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,359) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    Unabashed and unapologetic 2.
  37. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I'm glad was your favorite example of the style. :stuck_out_tongue:

    That aside I think it's probably a pretty normal issue to run into with beer style availability that when population density increases product diversity will also increase. I'd bet that would happen across almost every product line. The higher the population, the higher the likelihood that outliers would appear. It's pretty unlikely that @TrveBrewer would have the same success in Alamosa Colorado as they have in downtown Denver. Could a boutique cheese store make it in Alamosa? Also a hard no. There just isn't the diversity of consumers in Alamosa that exists in Denver. I would guess that guys like @unlikelyspiderperson live in less densely populated areas of California, while @Resistance88 is in the metro area based on what's available to both of them.
    pudgym29 and Singlefinpin like this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    That is part of it.

    I have visited non-densely populated areas in Oregon and Maine that have excellent craft beer selection/choices. Vermont would be another example. So population density is not 100% a deciding factor here.

    I would be willing to bet there are non-dense areas in Colorado that have good beer choices.

  39. bcm119

    bcm119 Champion (829) Feb 17, 2001 California

    I chose #1, but I'm somewhere between #1 and #3.

    I appreciate all styles of beer, and when I'm at a good beer bar, I often order the beer I consider the best example of it's style that they have on tap, which is often a pilsner, stout, English style ale on hand pump, etc. And my favorite beer travel destination is Germany.

    But at the end of a typical work day, I crave bitter hops. And my refrigerator is usually stocked with about 75% ipas, 20% pilsners, and 5% other. I just drink far more IPA than any other style, it is my default and favorite style for everyday drinking. So bring on the IPA selections.

    I do sympathize with those saying they have trouble finding other styles; I haven't experienced that problem, but I'm in the bay area where there are a lot of options. I can see it would be a problem if the most popular brands that are widely available become all IPAs, effectively reducing the variety of styles available in areas lacking good craft beer retailers. But my buying habits put me squarely in the demographic that is driving this trend.
  40. JBogan

    JBogan Savant (911) Jul 15, 2007 California

    I can only speak in regards to my own experience, but 9 times out of 10 if given a decent choice of options available to me I would absolutely NOT purchase an IPA.

    However due to things being the way they are these days I purchase far more IPAs than I would prefer, simply because my choice ends up being either to buy an IPA or drink macro swill.
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