Peak IPA in the pursuit of hoppy-ness

Story by Mikey Lowe

Our go-to beer guy, Mikey Lowe, reckons that we may have come to the point of Peak IPA in the pursuit of hoppy-ness.

I am not against IPA’s. But IPA drinkers just grind my gears.

I’ve drunk my way through every small bar, local tavern, beer hall, pub, and gutter between Sydney and Melbourne. Mostly, I was there to represent this or that brewery and supply venues with the good stuff. There’s one thing I’ve noticed occurring. As more and more venues supply craft beer, less and less are offering a full range of beer styles. IPA’s and hop driven ales tend to dominate as a combined category.

Of the Top 10 craft beers polled in the 2016 GABS 100 Top 100, all but one was an IPA or Pale Ale.


Steve Jaffares, co-owner of The Local Taphouse, was quoted in Fairfax as saying that “Australians’ love of hops is bordering on the obsessive.”

Is it that IPA’s are inherently good?

Not likely.

But like Cara Delevigne, IPA’s are the ‘it’ thing. I mean do bears shit in the woods?

Something about the sharp and fruity, resinous flavour of hops is simply suffocating. Tack on a higher than average ABV and we have a powerful vehicle for flavour.

Even if I manage to mumble a few phrases and pass as some sort of authority on the subject, IPA drinkers bother me. “What hops are these?”, “Where were they grown?”, “Were they wet or dry hopped?” And it continues until I find myself down the rabbit-hole as avid IPA-er’s debate which year was better for such and such IPA.

It’s enough to give up on the style altogether.

Whilst certainly satisfying and offering much in flavour, I wonder whether a backlash will occur in due time. As the market is flooded, it becomes harder to seek out the best of the style. More and more average to poor flash-in-the-pan IPAs are being drunk which will ultimately hurt the style.

I know I’m being selfish in my pursuit of happiness. But it’s a retaliation to the IPA drinkers’ selfish pursuit of hoppy-ness. I plead to the industry, acknowledge other styles. Up-sell an IPA drinker away from their safe zone.

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