Why/How did IPA's become so popular in America?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by bdeast1, Jun 9, 2012.

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  1. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (873) Aug 26, 2009 California

    Damn, 80+ replies and two days of posting yet the correct answer was the second reply. Not even going to bother reading the other 80 something replies now.
  2. Chickenhawk9932

    Chickenhawk9932 Savant (917) Jul 19, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Not to mention both of those breweries make IPAs, yet they sell more Pale Ale and Lager.
  3. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (389) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    In terms of the Bigger Stronger Faster Is What Americans Love thesis floated in this thread, I think there's some truth to that, but it doesn't necessarily have staying power (not least because eventually you hit the ceiling).

    More and more often I've been jonesing for calmer brews with more modest ABVs lately, and they've been tasting like exactly what I want.

    If you like beer, you're really living amid an embarrassment of riches these days.
  4. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aspirant (251) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    "Delicious" is subjective, though. :wink:

    I agree with many of the comments above and just to add a much simpler answer into the mix, some people just like bitter things. Grapefruit and dark chocolate are popular as well, but it's certainly not for everyone!
    HarrySTruman likes this.
  5. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,761) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Ha! There's no triple IPA style listed yet though....Hopsickle would definitely, in my book, qualify. Nasty stuff. Could be a "Quad"..
  6. BogleHill

    BogleHill Initiate (132) Jul 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    It's quite a versatile style - just grabbed a box of SA Hopology. This has to be one of the great mix packs of all time!
  7. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    I think the general thought that IPAs are easier to brew is a bit overblown. There are a whole bunch of decent to good IPAs out there but the majority of them are less than great. That is not much different than the Hefes or Pils available in the states. I dare to say that even the breweries in the states which brew great Hefes or Pils are often overshadowed by less than stellar IPAs.
    Chickenhawk9932 likes this.
  8. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (715) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I don't know about that. Start a three separate threads of BAs favorite IPAs, and American-made hefeweizens/pilsners. I would bet you'd get a WIDE variety of responses for IPAs, while the hefeweizen thread might say Kellerweis and/or Live Oak, and the pilsner thread would mostly say Prima.
  9. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Whats the ratio of American made IPAs to American mad Hefe and Pils? There are 2926 American IPAs listed on the site, 1142 Hefeweizens and 1529 Pilsners (noth Czech and German). My guess is the majority of the IPAs are American while the other two styles are going to have a bit more international flavor to them. I still say the ratio of stellar to less than stellar for each style is going to be fairly close.
  10. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (715) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    What about the ratings? The 50th rated IPA on the site is a 4.13. You only have to go down to 6th on the list for hefeweizens to find a rating of 4.12, and it's from Three Floyd's. And you can't say BAs don't rate hefeweizens highly, because Sculpin is number one at 4.41, and Weihenstephaner is number one at 4.4 (Live Oak is two at 4.36).

    Realty Czeck is number one at 4.3, then number two drops to 3.99. German Pilsners don't support my theory as well, with Prima number one at 4.09. I would argue imported pilsners suffer the most though from the trip over here, and you can't find some of the best on tap easily in beer bars like you can Weihenstephaner, so the ratings are lower.
  11. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    6 of the top 10 Hefeweizens are American. So based on rating American breweries can more than match the German craftsmanship. I am sure a restaurant in Japan could prepare the worlds best bolognese, Canada make the best haggis and Thailand the best Baba ghanoush but cultures seem to have their own tastes. So back to my original response, even if top tier Hefes or Pils are brewed here they will be over shadowed by IPAs of "lesser" quality.
  12. RKPStogie

    RKPStogie Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    The only beer I see on that list is Yuengling (and to some people event that's debatable)...:grinning:
  13. Schulzy1

    Schulzy1 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2009 New York

    It's really and 'all of the above answer' isn't it? Any brewery that brews a beer with hops that's worth a damn cannot keep up with production, right? (Flower Power, Heady Topper, 60 minute, et al). But we're still a small minority (in relation to total beer market, with a nod to JessKidden's stats and shared links), like folks who like big dry, pull the tongue out of your mouth red wine, knee buckling bleu cheeses and curry that will make you sweat from your feet up.

    Bottom line, we like hops, in my opinion, because mostly, we appreciate FRESH, and nothing screams fresh like a well made IPA, or DIPA, poured into a glass a day after being racked. So packed with flavor from pine, grapefruit, mango, pineapple, fresh cut grass, super dank grass :wink:, citrus and, blah, blah, blah. HOPS. RULE.

    While, collectively, we appreciate most styles of beer at certain points during the year, the one constant holds steady: Sticky, green buds that tickle the nose and attack the tongue.
  14. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (512) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    "prohibition killed off the array of other styles smaller breweries (and the breweries themselves) were producing and was a large factor in the rise of "light American Lager" "

    Sorry, but that's inaccurate. If you do a search of labels on a breweriana website, you'll find almost every popular craft style available now being produced by smaller regional breweries up into the 50s-60s.
  15. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (526) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Laughable description, isn't it?
    tronester likes this.
  16. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (715) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    That's my point. The ratings for those 6 out of 10 are MUCH lower than American IPAs overall. And some would argue BAs just rate hefeweizens lower than IPAs in general. But if the top hefeweizen (Weihenstaphaner) is the same rating as the top IPA (Sculpin) clearly BAs enjoy hefeweizens. I would say this points towards the majority of American brewers can't match German craftsmanship. There would be more German hefes that were rated higher, but unfortunately many of these suffer from the trip overseas/sitting on the shelves.

    I will agree with you though, I'm sure due to the sheer volume of IPAs in America, there are many mediocre IPAs overshadowing a beer such as Kellerweis.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,493) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member


    I can certainly understand that you find that verbiage “laughable”. While I personally would not have chosen that exact wording I have a sense of appreciation on why it is included in the description. The American hops utilized in the making of American style IPAs, particularly for the flavor and aroma additions, are just so more potent than the British hops used in the making of an English style IPA. I personally enjoy drinking English style IPAs (Meantime IPA is my personal favorite) but American style IPAs are truly a different ‘beast’. I had the opportunity to attend an IPA event at a local beer bar. I started off with drinking Meantime IPA but then I ‘progressed’ to drinking Bells Two Hearted, Ballast Point Sculpin and Firestone Walker Union Jack. While I did enjoy drinking the Meantime IPA, as I was drinking the various American style IPAs I was silently saying “WOW” with each sip. So, I suppose my wording in the BJCP style guidelines would be something like: An American version of the historical English style, brewed using American ingredients and including a ‘wow’ factor.

    Hmmm, my description above while accurate (in my opinion) also reads “laughable”. I suppose that I am as equally ineffectual in writing beer descriptions as the BJCP author for American style IPAs!?!


  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,493) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    So, let’s discuss IPA, Hefeweizen and Pilsner from a single US craft brewery: Victory.

    The Victory Brewing Company was started by two guys who received beer training in Germany. I don’t know that they ever ‘formalized’ their company vision to be a US craft brewer of German beers but they certainly have a large number of German style beers in their portfolio. I have the opinion that the German style beers they brew are of high quality.

    Their beers per the above three styles:

    · IPA: HopDevil 4.09

    · Hefeweizen: Mad King’s Weiss 4.1

    · Pilsner: Prima Pils 4.09

    Using the BA rating all three of these beers are of equal high quality: a rating of 4.1

    I am unsure what the present day statistics are but in the recent past the best selling Victory beers was HopDevil. I recall that in past interviews (when Victory was still a ‘young’ brewery) that both Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski would comment that they never expected a non-German beer to be their best seller. So, this is one example where big sales of an IPA were not ‘driven’ by the brewery but by consumer demand.

  19. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (526) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    The use of the buzzword "attitude" is what made me laugh. It reminded me of when Homer becomes a character in Itchy and Scratchy. The word aattitude is used a lot by the network executive zombies.

    Ever since I saw that, I can't take the word seriously.

    I never know what's meant by an English IPA. The beers sold under that name in the UK are a diverse bunch. Which is the real one?

    I find Goldings in quantity magical. Just a shame it's so seldom done. Too expensive, I guess. Pretty Things 1832 XXXX. What a beer that was. A mountain of whole leaf Goldings went into that.
  20. Mavajo

    Mavajo Zealot (572) Feb 10, 2007 Georgia

    I don't have much brewing experience, so take this with a grain of salt. But I've been given the impression that IPAs are a fairly easy style to brew successfully. It's my understanding that the intense level of hops can cover up many flaws.
    jmw likes this.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,493) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Yeah, the Simpsons are great. I have a T-shirt with a picture of Homer which proclaims: “Everybody has to believe in something. I believe I will have another beer.”

    “I never know what's meant by an English IPA.” Far be it for me to ‘define’ what an English style IPA should be but as a homebrewer I very often approach beers from my homebrewing perspective. For me an English style IPA is ‘defined’ by generous hopping of Fuggles and/or Goldings hops. As I mentioned previously my personal favorite English style IPA is Meantime IPA. Below is the description that Meantime provides for this beer on their website:

    “India Pale Ale 7.4% ABV

    India Pale Ale is the beer that sustained the British Raj – it did not just survive the passage to India, it matured to perfection on the long voyage. Original IPA was heavily hopped – up to twice as much as domestic beers - and so Meantime use plenty of Kent Fuggles and Goldings to help re-create the flavours of the world’s first great pale beer style.”

    “I find Goldings in quantity magical.” I am a kindred spirit here! I homebrew a lot of American style IPAs; usually 4 batches a year. I have yet to homebrew an English style IPA but I do homebrew an English Bitter Ale every year that is solely hopped with East Kent Goldings hops (my personal favorite English hop). I have a batch of my Bitter Ale carbonating in the bottles ‘as we speak’. I use 6 ounces of East Kent Goldings hops for a 5 gallon batch; this includes 2 ounces for dry hopping. Some folks would argue that this rate of hopping ‘makes’ my beer an IPA but I consider it a generously hopped Bitter Ale.

  22. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (389) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    I'm still picking up bottles of that.

    Which reminds me: Thank you very much, sir, for helping Pretty Things with their historical recreations. I work in the history racket, myself, and I've been digging all of 'em (minus the first, which I missed). I sure wish they'd make the KK a regular offering.
  23. RBassSFHOPit2ME

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

    Vinnie had the foresight enough to understand what the American public gaddamn wanted! Raaaaar!
  24. Elfastball7

    Elfastball7 Disciple (325) Oct 7, 2007 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Good point! I work at a beer/wine/liqour store in NJ, and I see the same thing. A decent portion of the wine customer base loves insane obnoxious, unblanced, tannicy, boozy California Wines. I see the same thing with beer customers wanting big Imperial Stouts that need age or insane hop bombs like Port Hop 15/Stone Ruination/GF Palate Wrecker. I am not bashing hopheads as I do like hoppy beers but there is a equivalence in the American palate for over the top wines and beers
    thesherrybomber likes this.
  25. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poo-Bah (5,511) Dec 4, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Bottom line is, blame it on the Brits back in the 1800's, they got the ball rolling for us all.
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