01 Aug 2012 @ 12:59 PM 

God I wish this was going to be a long post, but it’s not.

Tomorrow is IPA Day, and I can’t get behind it.

Nevermind the fact that IPA is the first jumping off point for every beginning craft beer enthusiast that is trying to get as far away from premium lager as possible. Nevermind that the vast majority of IPAs are over-hopped and over-wrought and are just one-note hop bombs with very little subtlety or nuance.

Look at your calendar and look at all of the SUCH-AND-SUCH Day holidays that are on there. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretary’s Administrative Assistant Professional’s Day. There’s a Grandparent’s Day, Boss’s Day (I assume this is about Bruce Springsteen), National Doughnut Day, National Catfish Day, and whatever the hell else you want. You know what they all have in common? They are held to bring specific attention to something that is generally under appreciated.

IPA? Really? The single best selling style in craft beer? Every goddamned day is IPA day. It doesn’t need a specific holiday. You want to know why there’s a Black History Month and not a White History Month? Because EVERY month is White History Month.

Why aren’t we celebrating a style that NEEDS a little bit of extra attention? Bitter! Bock! Pilsener! (speaking of an under appreciated style) Schwarzbier! Vienna Lager! Baltic Porter! ANYTHING but freakin’ IPA.

IPA is delicious, but it’s EVERYWHERE. It doesn’t need to be put on a pedestal, it needs to be joined on that pedestal by other delicious beers.

Join me by using #IPADay to celebrate a beer style that you feel needs more appreciation and attention, instead. Take it back and go somewhere new! I’ll be tweeting using: #TakeBack #IPADay

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 01 Aug 2012 @ 01:00 PM

Categories: industry, marketing, op-ed


Responses to this post » (26 Total)

  1. Brad Carey says:

    I definitely get your point and agree, but it’s hard to say no to IPA tap takeovers and special kegs/casks when IPA is far and away your favorite. I put my foot down with seasonal creep, but I don’t think I will hold back here.

  2. Barney says:

    1 vote for Saisson!

  3. Derrick says:

    I was going to write a post about not celebrating IPA either, for a lot of the same reasons……you beat me to it!

  4. Ashley says:

    Whereas I have a lot of respect for you as a fellow beer industry pro and a fellow beer blogger, I have to disagree with you on some of your statements. I am in no way, whatsoever, saying that you are not entitled to your own opinion. Like I said, I like you and respect you a lot, and I really don’t want to offend you.

    Statistically speaking, the majority of people in this world (of legal drinking age) do not drink IPA. This means that, every day is not, in fact, IPA Day.

    95% of beer drinkers don’t drink craft beer. Remember, craft beer is only 5% of the overall beer segment. And this doesn’t even include the segment of drinkers that prefer wine and spirits over beer.

    IPA Day is more than an exclusive holiday invented for breweries and beer geeks – it is a day to inspire those who might not otherwise drink craft beer to think about it.

    And I agree with your statements about some IPAs being unbalanced and one-dimensional. The reason why the IPA style was chosen was because it is the most brewed style in the craft beer industry — making it the most accessible and all inclusive style to celebrate. The majority of breweries in the U.S. brew an IPA. Not all of them, but a lot of them. Which means IPAs are more readily available to consumers … and it means that more breweries can participate and be a part of IPA Day. Baltic Porter day sounds really fun too, but how many Baltic Porters do you think are sold in Alabama, Mississippi… heck, even California?

    There really is a bigger picture in mind when it comes to IPA Day. Not forcing you to see it, but just making you aware. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    • erik says:

      Hey Ashley,

      Sorry – this didn’t post sooner. The comment was caught up in the spam trap and I wanted to make sure it’s out there, because I value when people disagree with me. 🙂

      So, I guess, weirdly, the part where we disagree is the part where we agree: The majority of breweries in the U.S. brew an IPA. Not all of them, but a lot of them. Which means IPAs are more readily available to consumers … and it means that more breweries can participate and be a part of IPA Day. Baltic Porter day sounds really fun too, but how many Baltic Porters do you think are sold in Alabama, Mississippi… heck, even California?

      So, that’s what I’m getting at. If everybody’s got an IPA already, then what makes it special? It’s a club-only inclusive activity that’s not meant to draw in that 95% that’s drinking Bud Light, it’s preaching to the converted. And rather than giving those breweries a reason to go out and try something new – like a Baltic Porter, they’re just taking what they’ve already got and selling it – like they do every day – except now that have a pretty graphic to go with it. (And it is a pretty graphic.)

      I mean – I think it’s brilliant marketing, and I’m sure it’s a huge boost in sales for IPAs, but I’m not sure it’s part of a big picture movement for getting more drinkers to craft from the 95% or even promoting innovation and growth within craft itself.

      I just feel like this kind of promotion and attention could be used for so much MORE than the largest slice of a niche market.

      • Anthony says:

        How can you on one hand say:

        >Nevermind the fact that IPA is the first jumping off point

        And then say:

        >not meant to draw in that 95% that’s drinking Bud Light, it’s preaching to the converted

        Those two statements are as incompatible (logically) as they are untrue (factually). I know plenty of crap beer drinkers that have enjoyed a 6-7% crisp, fresh IPA. Maybe not a 10% bomb – but that’s not what IPA really is.

        Aside from that, IPADay is silly. But I think ANY [style]Day is silly. My biggest complaint about IPADay in particular, however, is that it should be IN THE LATE FALL when we get those delicious fresh hop brews.

        • erik says:

          Ah, because you’re missing the unspoken logic steps in between. I don’t think people come to craft on IPA. I think they go to IPA after they come to craft.

          I also know plenty of crap beer drinkers that have enjoyed IPA first. I know just as many that haven’t. Neither of them proves a rule. I also don’t believe in gateway beers as they are traditionally defined. I think people come over on flavors they like, not pre-defined styles. I also think that they won’t switch unless they’re interested in exploring new flavors, which predisposes them to liking craft in general.

          That said (and this is a topic for a different post), I wonder how many people are “converting” anymore vs. just growing up with craft around them. It’d be an interesting public poll.

          • Anthony says:

            In my experience, nobody converts from Macro to Craft without first discovering a Craft alternative beer they enjoy. And to me, “flavor” and “style” is really just an argument over semantics.

            So, IMO, if IPAs are the de facto Phase I for new Craft drinkers, it’s because IPAs brought them over (general rule). I tend to think that Pales and 1xIPAs are indeed the most likely converters THESE DAYS. However back when American Craft was nascent, people found their Macro escape via Euro bocks, pils, ESB, Chimay/Pirrat/etc. That’s changed, I think, now that when you go to most grocery stores you have a U.S. Craft options at near-macro prices. 2010’s craft newbies probably have had very little Euro brew by comparison. Not a bad thing, but definitely a different route than what my age group went through.

            Geography obviously plays a huge role as well. From CA or OR? You’re like 100x more likely to have shunned Macro at an early age than someone from the Midwest.

  5. Lee Snelgrove says:

    Aren’t doughnuts really appreciated by everyone?

  6. John says:

    Yes, because who wants a holiday celebrating popular things? We get it, Jesus was great, but do we really need TWO holidays telling us about the dude. How about some love for Peter? He may not be AS impressive as JC but that dude is SO overplayed!

    Also… the “vast majority” of IPAs aren’t good? I guess, because there are more IPAs than beers of other styles, the ratio might take a bit of a hit but seriously good beer is hard to do. How often do you taste tepid stouts or muddled reds? I would submit that of the flagship styles that most breweries carry, you’re far better off going for the average IPA than the average wheat or stout.

    The IPA backlash is just as boring as the IPA over hype. Because the IPA is neither “light” nor “dark” (the two general categories of beer for those who don’t like craft) it is a natural starting place for those looking for bolder tastes that differ from beers they’ve had before. Yes, it’s easy to go overboard on hops, yes, smaller, subtler beers can have as much or more reward than a big honkin’ IPA but IPAs are often a gateway beer that open people’s minds to different tastes, which will lead them to all other manners of great beer.

    When push comes to shove, I dare you to sit down with an Alpha King or a 90 Minute and tell me those aren’t some of the finest damn beers on the planet.

    Why not just enjoy some of the hundreds of great beers available that day, or not enjoy them and not say anything rather than spend the day crapping on fellow beer lovers and talking about “taking back” something that’s only been around for a year?

  7. erik says:

    Hey man, it’s cool. I disagree with a lot of people that express their opinions on the internet. Did you know that there are some people who think that the moon landing was faked? That shit is crazy.

    If you click around my blog, you’ll see that I’m a terrible follower of trends. I don’t like doing things that everybody else is doing. It’s partly because I’m kind of a contrarian asshole, but also because as soon as I see mass behavior pattern I try to look beyond it and get to the meat of the issue rather than just jumping on the bandwagon.

    Nobody ever invented anything cool because they were following the status quo. Part of innovation and growth is the ability to question what already exists and ask yourself if it’s actually the best we can possibly do.

    I mean.. hell.. where did IPAs come from? At some point, somebody said: I’m going to do something CRAZY and throw a shitload of hops in there! And lo – it tasted good, even when a lot people thought that bog myrtle was still the shit.

    And yes, absolutely, there were a bunch of douchebags that, a few years later, probably sat back and said, “Why is everybody so in love with this IPA thing? They should do this other thing instead.” And they were wrong.

    And I might be wrong. But I’m cool with that. Ten years from now, IPA Day may have changed into this awesome event that brings new attention to cool new ideas in craft beer and grows the market in new and exciting ways. That would be awesome. What a great way to be wrong! I hope that happens.

    Right now, I don’t think it does that. I think it detracts from so many other great things about beer. I think that the person who came up with it had a brilliant marketing idea and I think that the BA is a little misguided in following suit on the event because I think the event incentivizes the further creation of one style of beer that is already at the top of the pantheon. I don’t think it promotes growth or diversity.

    I’m allowed to think that.

    So, tomorrow, I’m going to go enjoy some of the hundreds of great beers available that nobody has a day for, because nobody’s going to make one for them if everybody blindly follows the rest of the flock.

    (Also: Not a fan of Alpha King. Pliny is great, so is 90 Minute and I have a suite of great IPAs that I enjoy drinking. None of them are the majority of IPAs. Most are boring. Sorry.)

    (Also also: I agree with you on the Jesus thing. One holiday is quite enough.)

    • John says:

      Ah, you had me at “contrarian asshole”.

      Not that I necessarily agree with you, but I suppose if you’re willing to acknowledge the ornerieness of the complaint, I figure fair play to you.

      I think Ashley’s points should be well-taken. When you’re neck deep in craft beer, it’s easy to start thinking that the whole world is guzzling IPAs by the gallon while in reality you’re talking about a subsection of craft beer drinkers (and don’t kid yourself most craft beer drinkers still drink wheats or less heavy beers) who are in turn a TINY subsection of beer drinkers in the country.

      The one point I do think is a little problematic is the notion that people liking IPAs somehow detracts from them liking other beers. When it comes to craft brewing, I really don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. The more people who care about beer, the larger to pool gets for ALL brewers. The more money IPAs take in, the more brewers have for that bold experimentation you so love on other types of beers.

      I’m also an indie music fan and I can’t help but compare your attitude to people who stop liking bands the second they get popular. If your fix is finding the latest micro-trend and being a step ahead of the taste-makers then that’s fine (although it sounds EXHAUSTING) but I feel like you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of legitimate pleasures on the seemingly arbitrary basis of “other people like this, which somehow makes me like it less”.

      To continue with the music analogy, I didn’t start out listening to super-obscure stuff, I started out listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys and they helped me expand my taste so I could appreciate different styles. Beer was the same way for me, IPA was my first favorite craft beer that got me going to brew pubs, buying weird beers and trying new things. After a while, I got burnt out on big hopes, tried other stuff and voila, now I love breweries like Metropolitan that do nothing but German styles, no IPAs!

      And finally, I don’t really see how IPAs are inconsistent with experimentation or innovation. From Tyrannena’s Scurvy brewed with Orange to Three Floyds moving on from west coast hops to New Zealand varieties for Zombie Dust, IPAs can be interesting, innovative and providing plenty of challenges without just being bloated hop bombs.

      Anyway, enjoy your contrarianess today because I’m sure there’s nothing you’d like more than glowering through everyone else’s party. I’m sure that after a few of whatever you happen to be drinking, things will look better.

      • erik says:

        Your point is well taken – especially considering money for innovation, but you seem to imagine my argument to be more severe than it really is because I’m snarky and short. I just think that if you really want a day that’s about craft beer then just make that day about craft beer.

        I don’t think that IPA is necessarily a great way to get people excited about craft. I think it’s something that people who are already excited in craft are excited about and all of the people who aren’t will think that the rest of us are being beer snobs for making a big deal about something that they think tastes like hell. In most cases, I’d say that it’s a great way to turn people off. I had a tasting yesterday where a guy who was a Coors Light drinker kept telling me that all “all that fancy beer tastes like feet” – he liked the beers that I brought… until he got to the IPA, “Ah yeah! There’s that feet one!” IPA is a hard sell to people when their palates are accustomed to light beer. It’s an even harder sell because very little of the innovation in IPAs are to make them more tame and balanced. It’s normally something along the lines of, “Put more shit in it!” Yes – there are some that are innovative and great. Fullsteam here in Durham had a Kumquat IPA this spring – it was freakin’ delicious. But that’s not very common.

        And hey – I don’t hate IPAs. I like good IPAs. I don’t like bad IPAs. Just like every other style of beer. I’m not trying to tell people that they shouldn’t be enjoying IPA. I’m saying that I believe that the “holiday” focus could be put to better use.

        And don’t imaging me glowering over everyone else’s party. Imagine me having a great time at a whole different party that isn’t just the cool popular kids. It’s the party with all of the geeks and nerds that the cool kids like to make fun of and we’re having a grand old time. But y’know… we’d let the cool kinds come to if they promised to not beat us up afterward.

  8. Jake says:

    While I agree with the argument…. This post comes across as very Andy Crouchy. Just saying.

  9. Barbecue Steve says:

    I, for one, welcome a National Rauchbier Day.

    • Minho says:

      Such a WONDERFUL reminder. I sell hand-made cartfs (mostly crochet) and there are so many little tidbits that can really bog down your time. Researching new products, marketing existing product lines, keeping the books (like you mentioned), and then the actual creation of the products can take up quite a bit of time. I believe that managing your time in productive ways is a big part of being successful. Thank you so much for this reminder

  10. […] skills, and for her efforts to respond to many tweets and blogs griping about IPA Day, with her explanation of why it matters. ”IPA Day is more than an exclusive holiday invented for breweries and […]

  11. […] Day (aguarde post comemorativo no próximo domingo) e o Dia da Cerveja Brasileira, por exemplo. O Top Fermented fez um post bem interessante de contraponto ao […]

  12. […] every day. What’s the point in that? An open, naked appeal to IPA hegemony is unnecessary. This great rant compares it to having a White history month. Celebrate something […]

  13. David says:

    Here in Germany, no one but craft beer enthusiasts know what an IPA is. It’s all pilsner over here. A “pilsner appreciation day” would make my soul explode into a thousand jagged little lager pieces.

    Love the blog btw.

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  15. I’ll tell you something else I like about these things.

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