Why Are People Obsessed with IPAs (Are They Overrated?)

What makes IPAs so popular, and why are people obsessed with them? They have an extremely loyal fanbase, but some people think they’re overrated. Are they?

IPAs are often considered the most overrated beer style in the current craft beer scene. Since 2001, they have been the most-entered style in the Great American Beer Festival. Craft beer sales are on the rise and are expected to continue growing, and IPAs are at the forefront of the industry. IPAs are as overrated as they are unconditionally loved.

For more insight into the current craft beer scene and what makes IPAs so popular, continue reading. We’ll cover the rise of the IPA in America as well as current trends that are bringing new life and interest to the style.

When did IPAs get so popular?

When craft beer started making waves in the United States in the 1970s, breweries like Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company made strides to produce world-famous ales using new hop varieties like Cascade. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale quickly became one of the pioneers of pale ales and, consequentially, IPAs.

India Pale Ales – usually referred to as IPAs – gained popularity in the late 1980s as demand grew and breweries were quick to participate in the growing trend. IPAs are now the most popular style of beer in America’s craft beer scene. Upon further experimentation after the introduction of beers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, brewers started making stronger, more bitter IPAs.

Ever since 2001, the IPA has been the most-entered category in the Great American Beer Festival – in 2021, the Juicy or Hazy IPA style was the most competitive.

Why are IPAs considered overrated today?

From Reddit posts to online articles, praise and neglect for the (in)famous IPA beer style exist.

Some consider IPAs to be overrated. Oftentimes, craft beer drinkers make this claim because they think IPAs are simply too hoppy. It’s also true that some craft beer drinkers, especially those who work in the industry and brew beer themselves, believe IPAs take less skill to make than a pilsner or other lager.

Lately, it seems that every brewery has an IPA on tap year-round. Could this be to meet demand and nothing more? There’s an immense market for IPAs, so this could be the case.

Other breweries create exceptional IPAs and brew more than just one house IPA 12 months out of the year. That being said, how could they possibly be overrated? 

Crazy IPA trends happening now

It seems as if IPAs are going to be around forever. Will they?

Not without the help of new quirky trends to keep them afloat. Here are some of the craziest IPA trends happening right now:

  • Milkshake IPAs
  • Black IPAs
  • Triple and Quadruple IPAs
  • Cold IPAs
  • Sour IPAs

If you’re not familiar with these sub-styles, don’t worry! Let’s get into them.

Milkshake IPAs

Milkshake IPAs are one of the biggest trends existing under the IPA umbrella. 

Milkshake IPAs are hazy IPAs brewed with milk sugar–hence the name. They’re often creamier than the common hazy or New England-style IPA and are also sweeter from unfermented milk sugar.

Many Milkshake IPAs are brewed with various fruits, adding to the sweetness and delicate mouthfeel.

Black IPAs

The Black IPA is a sight to behold in craft beer.

Black IPAs have similar taste and aroma profiles to American IPAs, but they have a black or dark brown color. They achieve high bitterness, dryness, and a hop profile associated with a regular IPA.

There are no roasted or burnt flavors associated with the black IPA as there are in other darker beer styles.

Triple and Quadruple IPAs

Triple and Quadruple IPAs have been trending as the overarching style continues to pique brewers’ interests.

Triple and quad IPAs result from the fascination with IPAs and the sheer curiosity in wanting to know just how far you can take the style. They’re incredibly hoppy, bitter, and alcoholic. They have thick and syrupy bodies.

Cold IPAs

Cold IPAs are a more drinkable and approachable substyle of IPAs.

The cold IPA is an IPA that’s fermented using the lagering method. It is made with either lager yeast or a combination of lager and ale yeast. It is a cleanly fermented beer with a crisp and dry finish, similar to a lager, that retains strong hop flavor and aroma.

Sour IPAs

Sour IPAs are a concoction resulting from the hype around both sours and IPAs.

Sour IPAs combine the characteristics of sours and IPAs into one. They’re sweet and tart on the sour side, and hoppy and bitter on the IPA side.

This hybrid beer is not a new taste but rather a combination of two styles offering very different sensations.

What about IPAs in the future?

As we mentioned before, it seems as if IPAs will stick around for the foreseeable future. Thanks to new trends and a loyal fanbase, the style gives us reason to believe it’s not going anywhere.

The future of the beer industry will certainly include IPAs, especially as new styles and trends introduce themselves to consumers. The IPA is still the most-sold craft beer in the United States and would have to fall off tremendously for other styles to take the lead.

U.S. beer sales were up 1% in 2021, while craft brewery sales grew 8%. Craft beer revenue is expected to rise an annualized 2.4% to $8.2 billion from now until 2026. As craft breweries take a larger hold of the overall beer market, and as IPAs remain the top style, there remains all the more reason for those breweries to keep brewing IPAs.