Virgin pilsner sipper vs. Chad IPA crusher
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Last weekend, a tweet about IPAs went viral, once again highlighting a central tension between craft breweries and casual drinkers that has caused both parties figurative and potentially literal heartburn since time immemorial. (Or at least like 2014 or so.) Namely: despite promising consumers better beer variety, quality, and innovation, the craft brewing industry sure seems pretty fixated on India pale ale, a style of beer that many people simply don’t enjoy.
But here’s the thing: for every one person Mad Online™ about the lack of crushable craft pilsners available at their local brewery, there are like, 4-5 people ready, willing, and able to pay top dollar for the haziest, juiciest, hop-forwardest IPA on offer. IPAs sell very well! It’s a documented fact! Many brewers and craft beer enthusiasts—many of whom are aging, and whose palates/esophagi have been absolutely torched by years of hop burn to the point that lagers are all they can really handle—find this reality annoying and deeply limiting. But breweries have to pay the bills like everyone else, and double-dry-hopped whatever-the-fuck is typically going to sell better, faster, and for more money than… well, pretty much anything else in the wide world o’ fermentables.
In some ways, this is a version of that virgin-vs.-Chad or “they don’t know” meme formulation: a sophisticated, neglected devotee completely overshadowed by a coarser consumer whose straightforward taste and profligate spending simply must be accommodated. It’s also just a good reminder that Reinheitsgebot-humpers on Beer Twitter braying about the subtle coriander glories of Allagash White (or whatever) are not a good representation of the U.S. beer market at large. There are plenty of niches for savvy, specialized brewers to capitalize on—just ask Friend of Fingers Bryan Roth—but for now, America’s volume drinkers still love them some IPAs. Sorry if this offends!
📬 Good post alert
🧾 The Settle-Up
Bonus: Kate Bernot (Good Beer Hunting, Craft Beer & Brewing) Jess Infante (Brewbound), and I discussing a lot of these headlines on our most recent Twitter Spaces session of Beer Byliners, which you can listen back to here!
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