The other day I was chatting with one of my favorite drinking buddies and the subject of IPAs came up. Jon is a true West coast hophead who I played a small part in educating about craft beer back in the day. In his prime, Jon probably knew more about higher end beer than I did. He's the guy who got me into brewing my own beer. I still send him recipes and ask for his input (and 9 times out of 10, I follow his advice).
So, imagine my surprise when Mr. Hops tells me he doesn't think he likes IPA any more. Hearing this is kinda like hearing Michael Jordan suddenly give a speech about how much he never enjoyed basketball.
The conversation got me thinking though. I know a lot of folks (myself included) who used to enjoy IPAs. Hell, if your listen to The Brewing Network these days, even the old schoolers on there have taken a turn away from the style they used to champion just a few years ago.
So why are people choosing different styles over what is undoubtedly the largest style in the craft beer segment of the industry?
Well, my theory is age.
Bear with me for a minute... Hear me out, this will make sense...
When you first start drinking craft beer, your average person is either in college or just out of it. Like a lot of other things, the inclination at that point in your life is to try something different. What's the most different from the Bud/Miller/Coors you've been drinking up till then? Well, something with flavor. LOTS of flavor. Yep, IPA. Next time you're out at your favorite beer bar, check out who is ordering the IPAs and asking about them. I bet you dollars to donuts you notice a lot of younger folks ordering the IPAs. Huge hop bombs are about as far as you can get from BMC beers.
Now, what happens as you get older? Your palate changes a bit. You seek out different things. Personally, I think you look for a little more balance. A bit more depth and nuance. Porters and stouts become more interesting. New styles suddenly become nifty explorations of flavor. Depth and complexity start to be more important.
So there ya go, my take on why people get tired of IPAs. Like I said, take a look around the next time you're at your favorite watering hole. Do some people watching. Let me know what you think!