Was there a recent beer war that went unreported by the national media where the India Pale Ale (IPA) crushed all of its beer foes, leaving it the only beer to be consumed across the land? Did the Huffington Post cover it in their Life & Style section and I just missed it? Because I swear there must have been some sort of beer battle (or at least a “beer conflict”) where IPAs drone-missiled every other style of beer because that’s the only kind of beer that seems available these days.
Go to almost any craft beer tavern and you will see at the top of their carefully-scrawled chalkboard beer menu at least three or four new kinds of IPA. It is now officially the fastest-growing and best-selling craft beer on the market. Ten years ago, very few people were talking about India Pale Ale. Nowadays, it is almost a pub law that the first thing you ask the bartender when you mosey up to the bar is: “What IPAs do you have on tap tonight?”
India Pale Ales have a higher hops and alcohol content, making it, for some drinkers, a more aggressive style of beer. It also finishes with bitter notes – which are refreshing for some, yet a little harsh for others. But none of that really matters. What matters is that IPAs apparently are the winners, all other beers are the losers, so start learning to love the brew that ranks high on the International Bittering Units scale, or simply, IBU scale, if you really want to hang with the hip kids.
Because IPAs can be an acquired taste, there is definitely some snobbery involved and that snobbery has manifested itself into ultimate coolness and we all know that coolness is what wins wars (well, that, and who’s military has more money). You don’t necessarily have to like IPAs if you are a casual beer fan. But if you call yourself a beer lover, then you sure as hell better wax poetic about the utter brilliance of the IPA. And when you wax, make sure you wax skillfully between the English IPA (earthy flavor), the American IPA (citrusy flavor), and the most regal Imperial IPA (aka, the Double IPA, which is hella hoppy and hella malty).
To drink IPAs knowledgeably and on the regular means you are on the side of the winner. Relish in the fact that when the sh*t hit the fan you didn’t side with a beer that got curb-stomped by an IPA. (I am looking at you, wheat beer.) Drinking IPAs means you are on the winning team. In fact, you are such a part of the winning team that you can even slum it on occasion and order an amber ale. You know, just to be silly and fun. It’s okay – no one will revoke your IPA card.
Now, there is no shame in not ordering an IPA. Go ahead and order any beer you fancy (except PBR). Even though IPAs won the war, that doesn’t mean they have banned other brewskis. So go ahead and get a stout. Enjoy a hef. Quaff a lager. But just know that you are enjoying that non-IPA because the actual IPA is a benevolent leader and is allowing you to do so. But every now and then, in order to appease your beer leader, you might want to consider ordering an Indian Pale Ale or run the risk of being kicked out of every craft beer festival you attend. IPAs have that kind of power now.
Think of the craft beer movement as an actual global conflict, which would then make the IPA an actual country who crushed all of its (beer) enemies and now controls the (beer) world. And what do you do when a country wins a war? You make a holiday out of it and celebrate the victory. And IPAs have. August 1st is officially “IPA Day,” so feel free to take the day off and show your appreciation with a few soldiers (that’s beer slang for “beer bottles”) in honor of the one beer that triumphed in the war to end all wars.
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