I want to say the conversation I had the most over the holiday break both in person and on facebook is the one where we debate whether or not the craft beer world has gotten over-obsessed with hops, and thus alienated potential members of our community because of our unreasonable obsession with bitterness.

I land in the camp that says brewers brew to serve their audience, and so what if we like hoppy beer? We’re supporting the industry. I would also argue that part of the issue folks have with IPA is the texture, not just the taste.

In the spirit of being solutions-oriented and finding a happy medium for everyone – I thought I’d take a minute to highlight a great choice for all of you out there who want to try some good craft beer, but aren’t quite ready to feel like you’re eating rye bread instead of drinking a smooth, well crafted beer.

Enter the IPL (India Pale Lager).

An IPL or APL is probably going to give you the hop flavor that maybe you don’t think you’re a fan of, but the texture of a lager will make your beer much easier to drink. It goes down more easily, and sits better in your stomach. The IPL is perfect for someone who hasn’t taken to IPAs – I promise at first you won’t even notice all the hops you’re drinking, because it’s just not going to be as coarse as an IPA you’d typically try.

I want to take a minute to talk about two beers you can get here in Hartford where I live. One is the George Jones IPL from City Steam Brewery (pictured above). I write about City Steam pretty often so I’m going to stop here to make sure folks in the neighborhood know it’s there, and say it’s good – try it.

Today I want to talk about Jack’s Abby Brewing, a real gem up in Massachusetts, and basically a champion of Pale Lagers. I’ve had their Kiwi Rising, made with hops from New Zealand (Kiwi Hops not to be confused with actual Kiwi flavor). This is a smooth beer that blends a hoppy and citrus taste perfectly. If you’re in New York, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, this beer is a must have. I bet Jack’s Abby will convince you or your hop hating friends that they can make it in the craft beer world. Jack’s Abby gets all the props for bringing diversity to the hoppy beer world.

You can find Jack’s Abby on twitter @JacksAbby.

If you want to read more thoughts on IPLs, I’ll send you to a couple articles from 2013 in the Washington Post and Burlington Free Press that joined the conversation about how we like our hops.


Out of this World IPA


This post is geared towards all of my friends who are between campaigns, on a budget, and still want to drink a nice hoppy craft beer (because you’re a hipster, just be okay with it). New crafty beers sometimes run you a couple more dollars than you would like – so I am always looking for a 6 pack or a 12 pack that I can buy at a good price with a great taste. Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin totally delivered that starting in 2013 when they added their Beyond the Pale IPA to their year round brewing schedule – I got 12 cans for 12 dollars at home here in Green Bay.

Beyond the Pale comes in at 6.3% ABV and 64 IBUs.  That means it’s quite a bitter beer, but it’s constructed really well. This beer is light to medium weight, and I can always sit and have two comfortably. It’s main flavor is Galaxy Hops from Australia. If you’re an American hop enthusiast, you can compare these to Citra Hops easily. The Galaxy Hops give this IPA a crisp, but subtle peachy – orangey after taste to end just perfectly.

Beyond the Pale is well balanced, and not complicated. You have to love hops to like it, and I’ll say this was a great way for Stevens Point Brewery to jump on the hop wagon a couple years ago. You can find out more from Stevens Point Brewery by following them on twitter at @pointbrewery.