18 Sept 2017 by Josh
There's more to life than IPA
This is no hop hate, just a wee rant. Are we going hopping mad? Yes, it’s an industry staple. Yes, it’s the beer that kickstarted the current (and exponential) growth in the craft beer industry. But there’s more to life than IPA, right?
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So just to start I want to say that I love a well made IPA as much as the next man, West Coast, East Coast, English, Belgian-style, Dark, Double, Triple, Spontaneously fermented, whatever you want to do with it, chances are it’s nice. That’s not in dispute. My issue is that the obsession with the style is currently crippling creativity in the industry. If you open a brewery you have to brew an IPA to stay afloat, that’s just a fact unless you’re some kind of gose-geek, barrel aging boss or spontaneously fermenting freak. That’s a shame.
IPA’s and pale ales serve as both a the foundation of the modern craft beer industry and the flagship styles, dominating the market and squeezing out room for growth. It’s seems to be somewhat of a catch 22 as breweries such as The Commons (Portland, OR) which is a brewery offering a great range of non-IPA european beer styles, and an antidote to the hop-bomb culture seem to be suffering. (The current news being that on the 1st of Jan 2018 their brewery and tap room will cease operations as ‘The Commons’ and become a second location for Modern Times beer from San Diego)
By all accounts they are a thriving brewery, and when I visited their beer was absolutely top notch. So they could just be suffering from stagnating growth in the market, but it does strike me as an odd correlation that they don’t brew many ‘trendy beers’. Surely the market should be about celebrating creativity and freedom to brew and innovate, rather than to stagnate doe to the demand of one style. Of course this comes as an opinion of someone who has nothing invested, so has nothing to lose. The industry operates in a capitalist economy and while the demand for a particular style perpetuates through social media, it will be the dominant style.
Maybe I’m just getting old and boring. That’s probably it.
Amateur brewer. Long time supper. Writing about brewing, drinking and the beer industry at large. Currently based in Vancouver Canada, from Leeds UK.