Two days ago a customer, into his third beer, shrugged.
“I know I’m a cliché, man. IPAs. They’re basically the pumpkin spice latte for white men.”
I chuckled, half perfunctorily, half genuinely amused. We discussed the efficacy of this assertion; IPAs are more year round than Pumpkin Spice Lattes, have a wider fanbase, etc.
Then I got home and realized my customer wasn’t as clever as he seemed; he was quoting a meme that’s been going around.
Which is when I realized:
THE IPA BACKLASH HAS BEGUN
In the northwest, everyone drinks IPAs. Little old ladies who you swore were going to get a white wine spritzer drink IPAs. It isn’t just white men, though if you see a bunch of white guys in Sounders Jerseys, glasses and beards come into your bar, 4 out of 5 times you can just start the pitcher. I’m not sure how this beer came to prominence. You can look up the history of the beer your damn self, I can only surmise that the Pacific Northwest is full of conscientious consumers who want to support Yakima Valley Hops. That everyone who comes into my bar and orders an IPA knows the difference in flavor, brewing technique, and even brewery working conditions of the beer they’re ordering.
Look, guy, I get it. You want something with flavor, so you don’t want cheap beers. You want to feel cool ordering “good beer.” And that’s fine! As a service industry professional I take no umbrage at your choice of beer. But! As an asshole, the following sorts of exchanges elicit eyerolls.
“Hey, do you have any IPAs here?”
WE ARE A BAR IN WASHINGTON STATE. If it is a bar in Washington State, or Oregon, or probably Idaho, it has IPAs. Some bars ONLY have IPAs. Even in winter. You can’t get a goddamn stout to save your life, but here’s 27 different IPAs, all from Ballard.
“What IPA do you have on draft right now?”
Look, just order it. You’re going to get the IPA. You aren’t going to hear that they don’t have your favorite and decide you want a Rainier. You’re still going to “suffer” through whatever “inferior” beer we offer, and probably get another one. This is because IPAs are all you have ever known, and you are but a stumbling fawn, wobbly-legged and afraid in this great, terrifying forest of locally brewed beer.
You may have a favorite but stop pretending you can tell the difference between all 8,234,129,356 locally sourced and brewed IPAs. The only persons who can do this are beer reps and the brewers themselves, and most of the time these people are full of lies and trickery.
SO IT IS WITH MUCH GLEE THAT I SEE THE DISPARAGING MEMES MULTIPLY
Because maybe this will mean that more bars will have dark beers on draft. Or just you know, regular pale ales. Or red beers. Or sours. Or Coors Light. Or just go back to selling cans of beer with majestic stallions on them.
Granted, every backlash has it’s re-lash, so it’s likely that 1) IPA drinkers will suffer through the jokes and not change their ways and 2) aforementioned beer style will come back culturally stronger and even more ubiquitous.
But what if– and you may say I’m dreaming— this was just the beginning? What if, as beer drinkers, we demanded something better? What if we banished this, the most basic bougie beer form from our collective provenance? What if we demanded the sweet simplicity of cheap lager, or the true excellence of a well made nitro? What if we stopped letting the craft brew bourgeoisie pigdogs oppress us with their tyranny of hops?
I envision fields of hops burning at sunset as, singing one song for many different beers, we rise up and toast the glorious future.
Join me. Drink the red beer.
A better world is possible.
Also published on Medium.