Is there a future for India Pale Lager (IPL)?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JackHorzempa, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I was reading some posts in the thread “What beer trend will dominate 2020?” which got me thinking about the IPL beer style – is there a future for the IPL beer style?

    My recollection of the first IPL that I drank many years ago is Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union IPL. I enjoyed that beer. It was hoppy like an IPA but had the aspect of being ‘extra’ dry due to the use of a lager yeast strain (and the lagering process). I bought a number of 6-packs of Hoponius Union IPL and also some other IPLs from Jack’s Abby (e.g., Kiwi Rising). Having stated that it has been a very long time since I did a repeat purchase of these beers. I suppose that drinking IPAs has sufficiently scratched my itch for these sorts of hoppy beers?

    From the below linked article there seems to be other breweries that produce IPL sorts of beers:

    · Sudwerk Brewing Co.

    · Short’s Brewing Company

    Also from the article there is an interesting quote from Jack Hendler of Jack’s Abby Brewing:

    “While Hoponius is really strong for us in Massachusetts, it doesn’t translate as well in other markets because it’s not considered a local hoppy beer,” Hendler explains. One other challenge for hoppy lagers is the extended lagering periods they often go through, ramping up production costs relative to ales that finish in a few weeks. “It’s a real investment on our end to keep [Hoponius] going and keep it strong and make it as big of a product for us as it is.”

    How many of you folks are drinking IPL beers? Do you think this beer style will still be around 10 years from now?

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  2. eppCOS

    eppCOS Meyvn (1,088) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    Hard to find 'round these here parts (said in a Sam Elliott drawl)...
    I think with the not so hoppy profile, and the time-costs of lagering, you're right to question the enduring presence of IPLs, which is too bad. I rather enjoy them. Cheers @JackHorzempa !
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  3. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,990) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    I haven't seen one lately. At least, not labeled as such.
    Amendm likes this.
  4. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,568) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    When I see one I don't mind getting it. I'm one of those people who doesn't detect the dryness that a beer in the lager family is supposed to have. And I think dryness is supposed to be the major flavor difference between a lager and ale, so an IPL to me is no different that buying an IPA.

    I'd love to try a comparison of two beers that have been brewed with the same malt and hops, and the only difference is the lager yeast and the lagering period vs. ale yeast. Does anyone know if such a comparison is commercially available and widely distributed?
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    A homebrewer such as yourself could conduct a split batch exBEERiment here. Perhaps coordinate this with the Brulosophy folks so this could be documented for posterity?

  6. Claude-Irishman

    Claude-Irishman Champion (842) Jun 4, 2015 New Jersey

    I also enjoy the crispness of a lager with hops in full swing. I was wondering "why is this not a recognized style?" Can't think of any other except for Jack's Abbey.
    KRug, Amendm and eldoctorador like this.
  7. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,838) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I doubt IPL's can do what Brut IPAs failed to do - offer a vibrant hoppy flavor profile with an underlying dryness and sell well.

    Of course, people are fickle. 'IPA' is a buzzword these days. Perhaps many who would have enjoyed this style were scared away by the 'IPA' label. Perhaps labeling it as a 'lager' would entice people to try it and subsequently return to it. On the reverse side, the fact that Brut IPAs failed so quickly despite having that buzzword on their label is a bit concerning for any other beer style that attempts to recreate a similar experience.

    This is all just conjecture though. I'd hope I'm wrong, as I enjoyed SN's Brut IPA (which many said had lager qualities) and would love to its return or something similar.
  8. beerwego

    beerwego Initiate (39) Dec 5, 2019

    TROPIC OF THUNDER is a world class beer, and the best in this style. Citra Mantra from OT was pretty great too. I do like Fresh Cut from Peak as well.
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  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Well, for my palate Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union IPL delivers on "vibrant hoppy flavor profile" and "dryness". I am not privy to the sales figures of this beer so I am unable to comment on that aspect.

  10. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (614) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I recently had starbelt by modern times that is called a hoppy pale lager. I loved it! It was delicate, light super easy to drink and just enough hops. While, it’s not a IPL I think it was an excellent hoppy lager. I enjoy tropic of thunder as well. I think there is a future in regards that there will be examples in the market but I don’t see it taking off or being that popular.
  11. FallingKnifeDan

    FallingKnifeDan Initiate (26) Jun 7, 2018 Minnesota

    Falling Knife Brewing Company, here in Minnesota, has seen good action with our IPL, Neon Midnight. It's a planned series to showcase specific hops. The Simcoe is huge dank and clementines.

    We're doing another batch of it but with Columbus in the next month.
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  12. officerbill

    officerbill Devotee (434) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    Hoponius was also my first IPL. My opinion is that Jack's wanted to tap into the IPA craze (under their name, not Springdale), but since they brew lagers they had to make an IPL.

    I don't see IPL's taking off. If someone wants an IPAish beer they'll reach for an IPA. Most lager drinkers are looking for smoother beers where the hops are balanced or relegated to a supporting role.

    That being said, I have noticed an increase in high-hopped “pilsners” (Pivo, The Crisp, 6th Borough, et al.) that are about as hoppy as Hoponius. Brewers are making hoppy lagers, but they're appropriating an established style and brewing an “American” pilsner rather than an IPL.
  13. Shanex

    Shanex Meyvn (1,474) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Moderator Society Trader

    I’ve had one just last week. Wunder Lager from the Brussels Beer Project and labeled as an IPL, although an American Lager here on BA.

    It’s a good style for those I’ve had. Which is not a whole lot.

    Ah your question. A future? Mayhaps just as long as people see past the IPA horizon. Cheers.
    mikeinportc likes this.
  14. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,838) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    That's exactly my point though. Brut IPA's delivered on 'vibrant hoppy flavor profile' and 'dryness', but based on their near extinction from the market place, there was not much demand for them and thus not the sales to support them.
  15. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,104) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    When fresh, JA Hoponious Union is one of my favorite hoppy beers of all time.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    But IPLs have been around for many years (e.g., Hoponius Union has been available for 9 years). A much longer timespan as the more recent Brut IPA. I am confident that IPL beers will not go "extinct" in 2020 (or 2012). Whether they will still be around 9 years from now?

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  17. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,633) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I hope not. I'm of the opinion that ale yeast esters are needed to round hop flavors out. Without them, I feel IPL's taste dry, chalky, and bitter. That's irregardless of whatever the IBU's might be. The clipped finish makes that even more intense. No thanks.

    To me, at best they taste like an ultra-dry pils. Still not my personal preference, but at least I can drink it. At worse they taste like a session IPA that went awry. I don't know if I've ever had one that I legitimately enjoyed. "It's okay" is probably the best compliment I've given one.

    There aren't that many around, but there are definitely a few still alive and kicking in CO. Some are being brewed by our absolute finest and I still don't care for them. Hence I'm okay if the concept dies off.
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  18. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,104) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    What did you think of Yuengling's IPL before they killed it? I had a pretty old one so it was tough to judge, but it seemed like it would've been "not bad" when fresh.

    EDIT: SA Double Agent was also a pretty decent IPL if I remember correctly. Haven't seen that one in ages.
    mikeinportc likes this.
  19. cg123

    cg123 Initiate (93) Feb 27, 2012 Ohio

    I remember the Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner from years ago being excellent. That's going back 10+ years though....
  20. Scrapss

    Scrapss Savant (926) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

  21. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,990) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    I thought Short's MMMKAY was damn good.
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  22. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,838) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I'm sorry. Misinterpreted your opening post then. I took 'future' to mean, 'will it have a meaningful impact on the future'.

    Of course every style has a future. I anticipate IPLs will be around in 10 years. They've been around this long and will continue to linger, even if just in the background.
    tzieser and JackHorzempa like this.
  23. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,137) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I will certainly keep buying the ipls from sudwerk. For my money they were more enjoyable than many shelfie ipas. They seem to be using some modern hopping techniques to good effect and generally have a fuller body than most other options I've tried.
    I really hope they bring back The Original Tallboy, that beer was wonderful
    jakecattleco likes this.
  24. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Savant (984) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    If a hoppy Pilsner with new world hops is close enough, a local brewery has one that has been added to their regular rotation. I quite like the style.
    officerbill likes this.
  25. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (947) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    My local brewery makes a Hoppy Lager, IMO a better name than IPA.
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  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    To the best of my recollection I have not had this beer.

  27. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Aspirant (281) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina

    American Pilsner?
    Hoppy Lager?
    Variations on a theme? Or each one actually different enough to be their own style?
    thesherrybomber, Ranbot and beergoot like this.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Not that I am the 'authority' of beer style naming, I would suggest that the term of "Hoppy Lager" could be an over-arching category of lager beers that are generously hopped.

    The IPL beers that I have tasted all reminded me of being IPAs that are very dry.

    In contrast the few beers that I have had that were labeled as being American Pilsners were more along the lines of being a Pilsner (e.g., around 5% ABV) but instead of being hopped with noble hops (e.g., Saaz, Tettnang, ...) they were hopped with American aroma hops (e.g., Centennial, Cascade,...). A very different beer from an IPL (IPA) for my palate.

  29. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (947) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    @rgordon thanks for the like. I didn't proof read , IPA should be IPL!
  30. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,006) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I like the style generally, but find that the use of "India" in the moniker to be derivative and disingenuous. I like @dennis3951 idea. Simply hoppy lager is sufficient- with a likely proprietary name as well.
  31. meefmoff

    meefmoff Devotee (435) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    These two comments fit my impression of how HU is viewed around here. It's simply a great, cheap, local hoppy beer that will more or less scratch any IPA itch. I doubt the fact that it's an IPL vs an IPA even registers that much with most of the public.

    Personally I don't really give the distinction much thought. If I'm in the mood for hops and I reach for something assuming it's an IPA, I'd be more or less just as happy if it turned out to be an IPL on closer look. As others have noted though, that doesn't happen very often and I've never had a memorable one that wasn't made by Jack's Abby.

    To Mr. Horzempa's distinction above though, I generally don't tend to like things labeled as pilsner-esque offerings with newer/trendy hops, so if those ever started falling under the IPL label the distinction would become more important to me.
  32. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,019) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Can’t remember the last one I’ve seen here, but if Jacks Abbey was here his beers would be a staple in my fridge. Love their beers.
    officerbill likes this.
  33. islay

    islay Disciple (318) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    IPLs are expensive to produce in two ways: 1) the opportunity cost from lagering times and 2) the financial cost of large amounts of hops. While they theoretically could be sweet, in practice they usually end up dry, and that's decidedly opposite to what most people who are willing to pay high prices for beer (or who see the initials "I" and "P" and get excited) want these days, unfortunately. As the IPA style has been dumbed down to be juicy and low in bitterness, I've found that the few remaining IPLs have been dumbed down in a similar way. That does make them akin to the Great Dry Hope of Brut IPAs that predictably never caught on. I'd love to try a dry, earthy or piney, unrepentantly bitter IPL, but other than to me it wouldn't sell in 2020, and frankly I'd probably rather have a dry, earthy or piney, unrepentantly bitter IPA, of which it's not easy to find new examples.
  34. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,019) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    The IPL never caught on, Brut the same. Pernicious is a very typical WCIPA, it’s always fresh and it’s a great beer, I could use more of these personally.
  35. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (2,085) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Nope. Unless it’s a murky, juicy thing with unpronounceable (and “hip”) hop names, the style has run its course and has no future.

    Can we please get back to talking about seasonal Bocks? DANG!
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  36. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (135) Mar 15, 2014 California

    I'm sure we'll see them hidden as hoppy versions of other lagers like Pivo Pils or maybe even some sort of distinctly hopped Doppel, Dunkel, or hoppier than usual hoppy amber lager
  37. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (550) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina

    Interesting topic to discuss. I suspect it go the way like the recently discussed Cascadian /Black IPA-- and will show itself here and there and perhaps under different names like "Hoppy Lager" as much as IPL (as others have commented). Not dead-- just not particularly popular.

    Founders even experimented with the Imperial IPL with Dissenter in 2014 which was not particularly well received on these boards (IIRC) equally as much because it wasn't CBS as much as the style. I got a fresh one and liked it.

    Personally, it seems a bit hard to define. It is not listed as a recognized style on this site that I can find. Is it recognized in the larger competitions?
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  38. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (752) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I really like the Jacks. I had it this summer in MA., was a few years since I had one. Grabbed two 6x16 at $10 each! Not seen it around in here in quite a while though.

    The yuengling IPL was decent at its price point, had too much of that yuengling lager taste to it. I had hoped it was a pathway to more hoppy styles from them but no it was not. I no longer even look at their beer anymore due to their outright political support of the madman in the white house.

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  39. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,619) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico

    As someone who loves lagers....

    I have generally preferred IPA's to IPL's.
  40. BruChef

    BruChef Aspirant (211) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    I think that’s a pretty common and totally understandable misconception about these types of beers/yeasts (Associating dryness with lagers and IPLs. Maybe because lagers are often associated with pale macro lagers). Sometimes it’s hard to remember that beers like bock and dunkel are lagers but are generally not considered dry. Quite the opposite in most circumstances.

    Not that dryness in a lager isn’t valid in some respects but the bigger difference, when done properly, is the lack of esters and sometimes potential phenols usually associated with ale yeast and the temperatures they are usually fermented at. I think the lack of presence from those two characteristics in an IPL certainly lends itself to dryness or more appropriately, being clean and crisp.

    I enjoy them because it really lets the hops shine without the yeast potentially muddling/meddling the flavors/aromas. Would be a much better concept to use lagers for single hop beers imo.

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