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DOUBLE (OR MORE!) IPA’s: The END of GOOD BEER

IPA’s (India Pale Ales) have been around for centuries, starting out as beer spiked with hops and with a bit more kick so that shipments to far-flung ports (mostly India) would arrive with minimal skunkage.  As more and more soldiers drank this swill, they developed a taste for it, much as current G.I.’s return home with a taste for SPAM (or some other horrid pre-packaged treat).  Exports to America and other places soon followed.  Eventually, the entire populace of the world decided this beer was shite, and started to drink more and more lagers and pilsners instead.  Finally, the free-market would right this wrong against beer-dom and send IPA’s to their rightful grave.

By the 1970’s, brewers on the left coast (mostly communists) started to look for ways to save their failing breweries.  They looked at old recipes that no one drank anymore, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the big domestic breweries dominant at the time.  Gradually, bored people everywhere began to drink this shit again, mostly because their empty lives sent them searching for anything, ANYTHING, that might make them feel whole again.  Some people like shit just because it is different (even if it tastes like diarrhea), ignoring their own good sense.

Fast forward a few decades and we now find ourselves in an age where DOUBLE or TRIPLE IPA’s are all you can find on a menu anymore.  If beer that was just a little bit hoppy was good, hoppier beers should be better, right?

Blow out yer tongue with a Pine-Sol Hops Bomb…

As but one (possible) component in the flavor profile of a beer, hops were meant to be added sparingly.  Though one could admire brewers for this “fuck you” to Big Beer, one must also draw limits at the desire to do something, just to do something different.  In other words, no one will admire your salsa if it’s only ingredient is jalapeno; no one will admire your sandwich if it is a lettuce “bun” filled with Romaine.   And turning good beer into carbonated slime that leaves an aftertaste like you just blew a Christmas tree, makes about as much sense.  Too much of the same thing is not a good thing and the current situation with “hoppy” beers reminds me of similar movements in the culinary world (spice for spice’s sake) and cigars (let’s burn their tongues out of their heads with nothing but ligero).

I remain hopeful that IPA’s will run their course, but in this age of hops bombs, fruit beers, and the like, it’s not likely to get any better (and much more likely to get far worse).  But things change, and trends have a way of inspiring counter-trends that cause the pendulum to swing back the other way.  In the not-to-distant future, it may be considered more “hip” to order a Budweiser, while we turn our noses up at silly craft brews…

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