The IPA vs. Pale Ale line

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BeerNDoggerel, Dec 17, 2012.

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  1. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Zealot (500) Mar 13, 2011 Illinois

    Do you ever find yourself re-categorizing beers?

    I hate to admit that the official category of a beer matters to me, but sometimes it does...

    I recently purchased a case of IPAs that are disappointing when I think of them as IPAs, but if I drink them as Pale Ales, they're awesome. (In this instance, it's Port City Monumental IPA.) Does this happen to anyone else?
    baconman91 likes this.

    THANAT0PSIS Defender (682) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Zombie Dust comes to mind. It absolutely puts most pale ales to shame in the hoppiness category. It should absolutely be recategorized as an IPA.

    That said, this sort of discussion will eventually become the same endless discussion that everyone has with music and subgenres (particularly in metal and electronica). Of course, it is human nature to want to categorize and thus understand things, so conversations of this nature, for better or for worse, will always be a highly debated topic.
    cjgiant, decimator, JxExM and 2 others like this.
  3. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Zealot (500) Mar 13, 2011 Illinois

    I think the same thing with Zombie Dust, but then mess myself up thinking that it wouldn't be as outstanding if I started thinking of it as an IPA. Pretty superficial on my part...

    THANAT0PSIS Defender (682) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    For me, it would still be as amazing: I can't think of many IPAs I'd prefer. I also don't care too much about categorization. It's about the taste. Sure, I judge based on adherence to style, but only to a degree. The rest of the review is all taste.
    tectactoe likes this.
  5. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Pure opinion as are all style guidelines. All IPAs are of course by definition Pale Ales (the clue lies in the -PA bit) , where you add the I prefix is arbitrary. There's a huge precedent for this of course as they were called Pale Ales for their first fifty years of existence before the name IPA first appeared.To the end certain brewers such as Bass continued to keep calling them simply Pale Ales , which they were.
    In other words it doesn't matter at all.
  6. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (728) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    This is a nice little post. Zombie Dust is the first thing that comes to mind. Mis-categorizing beers is a slight problem we see today. If a brewing company put out a chocolate stout and lied about its alcohol content, claiming it to be some huge imperial stout, we'd all think "wow, the alcohol is hidden so well, A+++"

    So it is tough. I do sometimes find myself drinking a beer that is not quite within its style, which definitely hinders the ratings on this site. Oh well.
  7. VitoFerrante

    VitoFerrante Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I love this debate. I say, leave it to the certified beer judges, not the breweries to definitively comment on style. Breweries can label it whatever they want because it is their product. If you blindfolded a beer judge, Zombie Dust would not be considered an APA. At the end of the day, it comes down to taste, not what the label says. They could label ZD a stout for all I care!
  8. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,034) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Supporter Subscriber

    But the beer judges have to grade the beer to the style category in which is is entered in the competition, and the brewer chooses the category in which it is entered. Maybe this process gives an unfair advantage like in the case of ZD (just to continue with the same example used in this thread) because that beer seems to violate the boundary between the PA and IPA if you leave that judgement up to us BAs.
  9. pschul4

    pschul4 Zealot (562) Jan 7, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Dogfish head keeps calling that 18% barleywine an IPA and that 18% sewage water a stout...
    CityofBals and checktherhyme like this.
  10. Schwantz

    Schwantz Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2012 Florida

    Zombie Dust separates itself from any other pale I've enjoyed... Until you side by side it with CCB Jai Alai, at which point you can clearly tell the APA from the IPA.
    CityofBals likes this.
  11. cerp66

    cerp66 Initiate (23) Sep 20, 2007 South Carolina

    Dale's Pale Ale is definitely in the IPA category.
    dagimp and CityofBals like this.
  12. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    If I feel like an IPA, Dale's Pale Ale is certainly a consideration alongside Stone IPA. ZD would be as well, if I could get it regularly.

    When I want a Pale Ale, Longhammer IPA is in consideration alongside SNPA and FW Pale 31.

    Longhammer's rating would jump 10+ points if it were labeled Longhammer Pale Ale.
  13. fuzzylogic

    fuzzylogic Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I like Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale as an "IPA" better than their standard India Pale Ale
    IPAdams, MADhombrewer, koopa and 4 others like this.
  14. fox227

    fox227 Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2010 California

    I'm thinking that the trend is for brewers to call their lower ABV IPAs, APAs, as to differentiate a 7% from a 5%, even if the 5% turns out to be hoppier. I also find that so many DIPAs are less hoppy than regular IPAs. Oh screw it! I better just drink them all and sort it out later.
    baconman91 likes this.
  15. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,096) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Haven't had ZD yet, but I often ask myself the same question when I drink one of Hill Farmstead's pale ales because I find them more desirable than so many other IPAs. I think they/Shaun generally use ABV as a rule to decide whether something of theirs is labeled as an pale ale or IPA.

    By that rule, I'd consider something like Lagunitas Daytime IPA a delicious pale ale. But in the end, I don't debate it too much. I just like to know what the brewer considers a beer to be so that I have a general guideline as to what other beers I should compare it to.
  16. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Although Pales and IPAs are two of my favorite styles of beer, I generally put the beer I drink into two and only two categories. The ones I like and the ones I don't like. This makes things simple for me.
  17. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    Literally just happened to me yesterday w/ Tank 7. Awesomely hoppy Saison, but if was labeled a Belgian PA/IPA, i think the score i gave it would be a little lower.

    Sweet 16, Old Viscosity... LIERS!!!
  18. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    How so? We're talking about your perception & if the category a said beer is placed in effects it. When I drink a PA, i expect some hoppyness. When i drink an IPA, i expect it to be very hoppy. Thus, when i get a super hoppy PA, i'm surprised and will most likely like it more and in turn, most likely rate it higher. I've never had Zombie Dust, but i'm sure this type of thinking, has something to do w/ why ppl love it so much.
  19. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (728) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I said those very same words in my review for that beer. They should just switch it and see if anybody notices.
  20. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Because peoples expectations are different. Beer exists along a spectrum or even series of spectra and Pale Ale varies from not particularly hoppy to very hoppy with every shade in between.At which point you decide to term it an IPA is a matter of interpretation. There is no supreme court of beer , no authority to say exactly what is what , it's a subjective matter.
    I also realise that different people have different taste thresholds.Early on in my tasting course we were given solutions of bittering agents in water, all of different strengths and it became clear that some people were much more sensitive to certain chemicals than others.So your PA is my IPA and why is that a problem?
    I've also tasted beers of different stated IBU and it's clear that other factors come in to play at the same time; malt profile, attenuation, astringency. A beer with 40 IBU can taste incredibly bitter , more so than another beer of significantly higher IBUs.
    Part of the joy of drinking beer is the journey of discovery. Like a drive in the country it's sometimes more fun to ignore the map and just go wherever looks interesting.
  21. gatornation

    gatornation Poo-Bah (3,422) Apr 18, 2007 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    i drink both for flavor and the one's i like
    utopiajane and Bitterbill like this.
  22. gloomy_tuesday

    gloomy_tuesday Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012

    Also, keep in mind that the brewery's location, current trends etc also influence how a beer is classified. More people seem to be aware of (and jumping on) the pale ale wagon while not having the faintest idea of what an IPA is. I get the impression that some of the micro brews, despite being IPAs, just label themselves as Pale to be more approachable on a mass market.
  23. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (479) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    I do. In fact, I go to brewer personally, dressed up as Christopher and using my Walken voice, telling them : "This shouldn't be a Pale Ale, its an IPA. Make that mistake again, I'll stab ya in the face widda soldering iron."
    TastyIsBeer and Zach136 like this.
  24. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

  25. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    Happy Hops, Row 2 Hill 56, Zombie Dust, Drake's 1500, Alpha King etc... seem to be the new breed of APA's. They all are much different than your Mirror Ponds, SNPA's and Pale 31's whereas I find Pale 31 more of a nice hoppy Blonde ale.

    These new APA's I look at as my session IPAs. They are all welcome and long overdue IMHO.
    dedbeer and BeerNDoggerel like this.
  26. nc41

    nc41 Meyvn (1,494) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Pale only means dry. A brew can be hoppy and dry ala ZD, hence an APA title. Up to the brewer on the label. Sticking an India in front of Pale Ale means exactly what? It's a very grey spectrum. Burning River is also a taste profile where most labeled IPA's live, Troegs Pale Ale as well.
  27. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,229) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Categories don't matter. Taste matters.
    cjgiant and baconman91 like this.
  28. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2008 New York

    It's the sort of "bigger is better" mentality of craft beer. As they say in homebrewing, if you want to win a medal in the APA category, brew an IPA. If you want to win in the IPA category, brew a DIPA. If you want to win in the DIPA category, brew a Barleywine. Just the way it goes.
    fujindemon74 likes this.
  29. kojevergas

    kojevergas Poo-Bah (7,374) Aug 15, 2010 Texas
    Beer Trader

    This became an issue when I reviewed Alpine Hoppy Birthday last night. Would I have rated it as highly if it had been categorized as an IPA? I'd like to think so. But part of its drinkability was its low ABV, and it was impressive that they packed so much hop complexity in while maintaining balance.
  30. Porkhustle

    Porkhustle Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2012

    FFF called ZD a Pale Ale for this very people will talk about it. And it worked 1000 fold
  31. Porkhustle

    Porkhustle Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2012

    Anchor Liberty Ale is a great APA and a shit IPA
    Hamburgers likes this.
  32. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Zealot (500) Mar 13, 2011 Illinois

    Of course, it has now been pointed out to me that the beer that inspired this thread, Port City Monumental IPA, won the bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this year in the category of English-style IPA. That makes perfect sense as, to me, American-made English-style IPAs are right there on the border between American IPAs and American Pale Ales. Which might obviate this whole thread.

    Except it does bring up the recognized phenomenon of breweries strategically positioning beers for medals through the choice of style category for festival entry. Which makes the thread more relevant.
  33. tgchief

    tgchief Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2010 Iowa

    It's fun to make a beer completely within the guidelines of a pale ale and have people rave that it is an outstanding IPA. Very fun, just not easy. Many fans argue with me that our psuedoSue should be an IPA. Well, it's not. It's a pale ale cleverly made with Citra hops well within the guidelines of a PA. I've been warning people recently that when we turn it into an IPA this summer they may have hop sensory overload!
    sacrelicio and copslovebeer like this.
  34. fujindemon74

    fujindemon74 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Stacking the deck, no?
  35. Satchboogie

    Satchboogie Savant (978) Oct 16, 2010 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    There is a little bit of crossover, but I'd say it's a combination of hop bitterness (IBUs), Alcohol content, and original gravity. I'm not sure of the exact IBUs, but at least the ABV would likely put it firmly in the IPA category (Pale Ales historically didn't go above 5.5-6%). There is definitely a bitterness threshold for PA vs IPA, though I can't remember the exact line, and again, that's just based on convention.
  36. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Which history is this? Beers sold as Pale Ales were generally stronger than those sold as IPAs.
  37. HeadyTheElder

    HeadyTheElder Disciple (389) Nov 3, 2012 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    Respectfully disagree. It's a very nice APA, but I've never thought of it as an IPA.
    RobertV916 and Bitterbill like this.
  38. HeadyTheElder

    HeadyTheElder Disciple (389) Nov 3, 2012 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    I feel the exact same way about IPAs that are older than 6 months. The hops have faded, but they are often times still an enjoyable beer if you think of them as APAs. Especially double IPAs.
  39. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Disciple (335) Sep 14, 2011 Missouri

    The easiest way to distinguish them is when a brewery makes both styles. Then it should be clear. If not just use an abv of about 6 to 6.5 and an IBU about 45 as the demarcation line. Understand that the line will be blurred and that's okay.
  40. dcbdc1

    dcbdc1 Initiate (0) Jun 23, 2012 Virginia

    Even here, folks can't avoid a gratuitous and completely non-sequitur bash on DFH. Hipsters unite!
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