America loves hops! There is no secret that the popularity of the India Pale Ale is massive. In 2014, IPAs jumped 47% in volume share and 49% in dollar sales, to a total of 21% of volume and market share among all craft beers. Since then, the IPAs popularity has maintained steady growth and today holds a 26% market share among all types of craft beer. If you search IPA on Untappd you come up with 147,932 results. This is a steep contrast to other beer styles like Porter (52,031), Stout (89,862), Brown (36,769), and Lager (29,142). There are currently 10 varieties of IPA in Beer Advocate’s Top 20. The rise of the IPA is unquestionable and it has become the premiere style of craft brewing in America.
People love the IPA so much it’s spawned countless different microstyles: Rye Pale Ale, Black IPA, Session IPA, India Pale Lagers, Belgian IPA, Double IPA, and so on. In fact, just this May, Beer Advocate said, “It’s Official” that New England IPAs are here to stay. American craft beer drinkers can’t get enough of their hops.
It certainly feels the Lupulin Threshold Shift has held true since the phrase was coined in 2005. It may not have any scientific backing, but it’s an interesting idea. Is it possible that our palates are becoming accustomed to the hoppy flavor, therefore causing us to crave and become “addicted” to more hops?
In 2013, Slate’s Adrienne So boldly wrote “everyone in the craft beer industry has a problem: We’re so addicted to hops that we don’t even notice them anymore.” This backlash to the hoppy trend in craft beer has also picked up steam in recent years: online debate site the Tylt asked “Have we reached peak IPA?” with 70.6% agreeing that we have; Craftbeer.com recently called the New England IPA the Anti-IPA due to its hazy appearance and fruit-juice flavor --a steep contrast to the bitter punch in your mouth of early IPAs; and brewers are now naming their IPAs with tongue-in-cheek names poking fun at this trend. Threes Brewing of Brooklyn has several: I Hate Myself, Constant Disappointment, and SFY (Superfuckingyawn). New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing Company named their Double IPA Contractual Obligation.
I, for one, one am guilty of being one of these “hopheads.” I am a sucker for the new fresh IPAs from breweries like Trillium, Treehouse, and Other Half. I love seeking out new juicy, dank, buzzwordy hop bombs, but I feel I have lost my taste for some of the other beer styles I’ve enjoyed over the years. It’s come to the point where If I choose to buy a porter, sour, or saison, I also find myself grabbing a six pack of IPA to go along with it.
For the next step in my craft beer journey I am taking a step away from the IPAs, hops, and IBUs to try to reconnect with the styles I’ve lost touch with over the last few years. I’ll refresh my palate starting today, Black Friday for our capitalist friends, and stay hop-free until the Super Bowl. For the next 72 days, I will be breaking up with hops. It’s not you, it’s me.
The beer must be craft beer by the Brewers Association definition.
No beer with the words:
- Dry Hopped
- Double Dry Hopped
Beers should be under 40 IBUs (A few exceptions to this rule: Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, Strong ales, and Old ales.)
IBUs are not the perfect metric to follow, but I will use them to try to keep to the spirit of the challenge. I will use the beer profiles on Untappd to find the IBUs that aren’t listed on the packaging. If no IBU is information is found I will use my judgement to follow the spirit of the challenge.
*This is ultimately about the exploration of all craft beers and not self-punishment, no matter what Graham and Phil think.