This morning I was looking at an ad in a beer magazine for a new mix pack from Sierra Nevada called the 4-Way IPA variety pack, which has Torpedo, their regular IPA, a White IPA, a Black IPA and a Session IPA. I’m not overly wound up about it, but if I come across one and its priced right I might pick one up to check it out. I think the beer community does have to have a conversation about calling everything under the sun an IPA, however.
People who regularly read this website probably know that I tend to like beers that push the boundaries of what’s been done and explore new ground. I am also not as dogmatic about beer styles as some people are, although after having gone through training to become a BJCP judge I have gained some more respect for the utility of beer styles.
That said, I think we are dumbing down craft beer when we call every hoppy beer an IPA. How is a black bodied beer with a lot of American hops an India PALE Ale? Over the last few years I have come across beers calling themselves Black IPAs, White IPAs, RyePAs, India Brown Ales, Belgian IPAs, Session IPAs and wheat IPAs. India Pale Lager seems to be another emerging style, but I will leave that aside as the style name more or less accurately describes what it represents (aside from the fact that the English weren’t shipping any lagers to India).
I’ve had examples of all of these beers that I have enjoyed, and am not knocking the beers themselves. I just don’t think craft beer needs to jump on the bandwagon of dumbing everything on Earth down. IPA means India Pale Ale, not “beer with lots of bitterness and flavor from American hop varietals.” The current trend, or fad, is towards hoppier beers, and as an admitted lupulin addict I’m fine with that. I just think we should stop calling every beer on the shelf an IPA.
The BJCP is in the process of updating their style guidelines, and I think they will likely create a Specialty IPA category to accommodate all these hopped up variations, but I still think breweries can be more creative in the way they categorize their beer.
What say you on the matter?
Beer Reviews by Prof Sudz