If you’re a beer drinker, chances are you’ve enjoyed a fair number of IPAs in your time. You’re probably able to distinguish some of the stylistic riffs on the genre — English, West Coast, East Coast, New England, Double, Triple, and Session — but maybe not all of them. This is a sprawling section of the beer family tree, after all, with each sub-style varying in hoppiness, bitterness, and flavor profile. It’s a lot to get your head (and palate) around.
Since India Pale Ale is still hanging on as the most popular craft beer style, there’s never a shortage of options crowding the fridges of your local beer shops or the taps of your favorite breweries. As with most any creative output, a few will be fantastic, many will be solid, and a handful will stink. Where that gets interesting is when the public favor (or popularity) of a beer doesn’t match its actual quality. It happens in music, movies, TV, and spirits — so of course, it happens in beer, too.
Nestor Marchand, director of food and beverage at Plunge Beach Resort in Lauderdale, Florida actually thinks the whole style fits that description. “I think all IPA’s are overrated,” he says. “Originally, the bitter taste was only so they wouldn’t spoil.”
Few bartenders would take things quite that far, but they still recognize that sometimes there’s a disparity between quality and hype. We asked some of our favorite folks behind the bar to share their opinions on which IPAs don’t deserve the praise they get heaped on them.
Cigar City Jai Alai
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Jail Alai from Cigar City Brewing Co., Tampa, FL, USA – Aroma: citrus, caramel, malt and floral hops -Taste: citrus, orange peel, toffee and malt – 7.5% ABV, IPA – RateBeer rating: 99 – 👏👏👏 #cigarcitybrewing #cigarcity #jaialai #cigarcityjaialai #ipa #craftbeer #beerstagram #시가시티 #시가씨티브루잉 #하이알라이 #아이피에이 #크래프트비어 #비어스타그램
Shawn Brown, general manager of Wine World in Miramar Beach, Florida
Cigar City’s Jai Alai is maybe the most well-known Florida IPA and it’s a great beer. But there is so much quality out there now that others are catching up. Some of the up and coming smaller breweries are now just as good.
Reniel Garcia, bar director of Havana 1957 in Miami
Lagunitas was one of the first well known IPAs. It’s harsh on the palate and the finish is mostly bitter but balanced, with a slight lingering bitterness. All in all a good beer, but it has not improved itself among the new IPAs that showed up after that.
Alchemist Focal Banger
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Banging Focality. Drink from the can. #vsco #vscocam #vscox #pixelteam #beer #beerporn #craftbeer #craftbeers #craftbeerlover #craftbeerlife #craftbeerporn #craftbeernotcrapbeer #drinkcraft #drinkcraftnotcrap #beergium #beeradvocate #ratebeer #untappd #drinklocal #drinklocalbeer #drinklocally #alchemist #alchemistbeer #alchemistbrewery #thealchemist #focal #focalbanger #alchemistfocalbanger #beer
Seamus Gleason, bartender at Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Pick one. Any over-hopped, over-hyped, bitter bomb gut-buster from your local craft brewer. If I had to pick a more well-known IPA, I’d say Alchemist Focal Banger. Great beer, but not really worth the hype.
Goose Island IPA
Kurt Bellon, general manager and beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis
The Goose Island brand is taking over taps across the country and has me exclaiming, “look at all those chickens!” when I am looking over draft lists and want to throw in a solid Vine reference.
Russian River Pliny The Elder
Tim Wiggins, co-owner and beverage director of Retreat Gastropub in St. Louis
Pliney The Elder. I had it on draft in San Francisco years ago, it tasted like a solid IPA. As far as IPA’s go, I used to get super hyped to try the newest, hoppiest, and dankest beers. Now that I have blasted my palate with far too many hops, I just want a well-balanced IPA with low sweetness and sharp bitterness.
Elysian Space Dust
Alfredo Arroyo, bartender at Joe’s Café in Santa Barbara, California
I’m not a big fan of Lagunitas IPA. For a bitter beer, it’s fairly high in price. But if I had to pick an overrated beer it would be Elysian Space Dust. It’s okay, just more bitter than I would prefer.
New Belgium Ranger
Jeremy Allen, beverage director of MiniBar Hollywood in Los Angeles
If I was to make a list of overrated IPAs it would include Goose Island, New Belgium (Ranger IPA), and seriously any beer at Trader Joes. The cans look good, the beer lets down. But for this, I’ll stick with Ranger IPA. If you enjoy IPAs, you can do a lot better than this.
Yes, this seems like a crime against beer to not be hyped up about Stone IPA. Maybe it’s the rise of lagers or even the hazy, juicy quality of New England IPAs, but many West Coast IPAs come off has a bit harsh and bitter nowadays, Stone included.
Ballast Point Sculpin
Sculpin definitely had its day in the sun. But it’s been a few years since the craft beer world seemingly passed this seven-percent, citrus-filled hop bomb. A decent beer to sip on a hot day. There are just many better beers available now.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
Dale’s Pale Ale is another beer on this list that isn’t bad. We’ve mentioned Oskar Blues in many articles and drink a ton of their beers. It’s just that Dale’s Pale Ale is a little overhyped. Brewed since 2002, it seems to be stuck in a time when drinkers palates were more accustomed to bitter, hoppy brews.