Like any beer drinking Californian, I love Hoppy Beers. This is the State of IPAs, the big bold Hoppy Beers that make some Breweries nervous to come into the California Beer Market. Because if your Hoppy Beer(s) don't hold up to what we're used to out here, a majority of people will burn you for it. But even in this Land of Hopportunity I have noticed a shift in the market place, people are starting to go away from the overly hopped brews. Double and Triple IPAs that used to fly off the shelf are taking an extra week or two to sell out. The richness, sometimes considered sweetness, that can be found in IPAs (or Ales in general) is starting to become overwhelming to folks, so they are starting to look more towards Lagers.
Lighter bodied and much more crisp on the finish, Lagers are sometimes seen as lesser beers than Ales, but nothing could be further from the truth. Harder to make than Ales, with way more work for the Brewers than their malty counterparts, due to their fermentation at colder temperatures, Lagers are much more delicate to make. A style of Lager I have been enjoying more and more is IPLs, Indian Pale Lagers. A style of beer that has some really nice hoppiness, but doesn't have the malt mouthfeel and richness that Ales have. These beers allow the hop profile to linger nicely and still have the five to seven percent ABV found in a standard IPA. And as more and more hops become available to brewers, well unless you're talking about InBev buying all of South Africas' Hops and keeping them to themselves, I believe IPLs allow for fans of hops to taste them more.
Part of the evolution of Hops over the last 5-10 years is a focus on them being more floral, more palatable than their bitter predecessors. The elegance that have been found in newer Hops can be sometimes lost in IPAs because of the rich malts that can be added to the beers. In Lagers, these beautiful, unique tasting Hops can be expressed more and highlighted on their own instead of being a costar to the malts. Beers like Sudwerk's Cascaderade highlights the fun flavors of the Cascade Hops, Saint Archer's Nelson IPA gives you the earthy citrus flavors of the Nelson Hop and Acoustic Ales' IPL is citrus forward with some slight floralness as well. These beers, and others like it, are the beers made for hop heads that are tired of having heavy IPAs. They can also serve as a way for someone who finds IPAs to be overly aggressive, to enjoy a Hoppy Beer.
With summer time right around the corner, heavier beers are starting to be put away and lighter beers are coming out. When you're looking for something Hoppy but also something lighter, look for IPLs. They can give you the tasty Hop profile you're looking for, but won't weigh you down with malt. So all Hail the IPL, the beer that Hop Lovers may not know yet, but will soon love.