Is anyone really surprised by the rise of the IPA in American Craft Brewing? It seems (or seemed) the logical initial step in the systematic rejection of domestic macro beer by your average craft beer drinker: replace neutral with overpowering and small with big. Sure, there were a couple of potential contenders for this spot—RIS, the other beer nerd Ur-beer—but IPA is currently trending as the beer de jour of craft brewing: it comes in white, brown, black, red, rye, DIPA, TIPA, imperial, and session forms, in addition to the regular ol’ IPA. Oh, and don’t forget British, American, and Belgian versions. In other words, IPAs have become the male version of the handbag: a necessary accessory craft beer drinkers can’t do without. So I get it, but that doesn’t mean I’m jumping on the bandwagon. What I’m really looking forward to, though, are the next couple of steps craft beer consumers will (hopefully) make. We’re already at the start of the turn to smaller, flavorful beers—see the “session” listing for IPAs above, although there are numerous others available, like Humulus Session or Swing. Need I overly emphasize the adjective small here? After that, maybe we can imagine an increased acceptance of subtlety? I know, I know, that’s crazy talk. But I’d like to see craft beer drinkers realize that making a good lager, craft or not, is actually quite hard. Not that everyone needs to make one. Or even like them. But let’s be honest, craft beer could benefit from a touch more healthy discernment as a remedy to arbitrary opinion. Which is just another way of saying knowledge. Because, after all, looking down your nose with nothing but self-righteousness when you lack the ability to understand difference is the epitome of poor taste. And there is certainly enough of that going around already.
The Session is a monthly first Friday beer blogging event; this month is hosted by Justin at Justin’s Brew Review. Drink and blog, y’all.