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Old 04-09-2015, 10:32 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: southwest Missouri
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Interesting article about IPAs.

I thought that this was a really interesting article. Rather than just being a bunch of blather about how great the IPA style is, it took a pretty insightful look at the mystique of the style. I especially liked his comments about the machismo of the drinkers, and the comparison to hot wings contests.


The popularity of IPAs has allowed for a growing trendiness. Craft brewers are increasingly making IPAs a staple of their selection, and bars are increasingly making them a staple of their rotation.

Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver told Business Insider that bars and restaurants without IPAs could be at a disadvantage because so many people want them. The buzz around IPAs is so powerful that it has people calling anything with hops and a strong flavor an IPA.

"Now people are making black IPAs, which doesn't make any sense because the 'P' means 'pale,'" Oliver said. "The thing is that because people know that a lot of people like IPAs these days, putting the word 'IPA' on something that is not an IPA can automatically confer easier marketing."

Big Alice Brewing makes a rye IPA, but generally its beers are less hop-forward and more flavor-forward, like its salted caramel ale.
And it's working, especially for those still unfamiliar with the variety of beers available in the craft world, according to Kyle Hurst, cofounder of Long Island City, New York's Big Alice Brewing Company.

"For people new to craft beer, they start with IPAs because that's where the buzz is," Hurst said. "For the last three years people have been predicting that IPAs are going out and that sour beers are coming in, but that hasn't happened yet. Every year someone predicts a new trend, but it's always IPAs."

Our taste buds are changing

The popularity of bitter, hoppy IPAs could be linked to a larger movement: the changing of taste buds in America.

Americans are growing increasingly fond of bitter tastes, beer included. Mitch Steele, the brewmaster of Stone Brewing Company in San Diego, gave a simple analogy to explain how taste buds can change.

"It's a lot like coffee, I think," Steele said. "If you don't like coffee, which most people don't the first time they try it, you get used to it. It becomes an acquired taste, and then you start enjoying some of the bitter components and things that you find."

Hops look like small, green pinecones; they are harvested and dried and give beer flavor, aroma, and bitterness.Now, after all these years, people's taste for beer has evolved.
"As people continued to drink craft beer, I think they acclimated to the point where the bitterness wasn't a problem," Steele continued. "And now, what I get from it, is people in the past couple of years are much more focused on the flavors in the beer as opposed to the bitterness."

Oliver's not entirely surprised by the popularity of IPAs, given that their flavor is among beer's most prominent and identifiable.

"Since craft beer was, to some extent, a reaction to bland mass-market beer," he said, "it's only natural, I guess, that a very flavorful style would be one of the main things to jump out."

There's a machismo in drinking IPAs

"There's a natural sense of competition" when it comes to IPAs, beer sommelier Joanna Carpenter says, "like, how much hops can they handle?" It's similar to the way people compete in hot-wing-eating contests.

)Brooklyn Brewery's East India Pale Ale is a nod to the origins of the IPA.
Oliver said: "Here and there you see brewers who are out there who say, 'Our beer has this level of bitterness or that level of bitterness,' and they're using it almost as a boast."

To Oliver, hop intensity does not equate to beer quality, noting that he does not think it's a sensible way of thinking.

But above the masochistic competitiveness people feel over their ability to handle spiciness, there's an additional curiosity when it comes to the bitterness and other flavors found in IPAs.

"There's definitely still an exploratory sense to it," Carpenter added, and now, more than ever, "people want to push their palates to the limit."
'I still don't see what is so hard for people to understand.'

'Because, this is the internet and they are people'
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