How IPAs Have Become a ‘Different Animal’ & Why Rohrbachs is Changing Flagship IPA

The craft beer industry is ever-evolving and there’s no better example than the India Pale Ale. With a long history, the way brewers leverage hops has changed over time, and thus, our taste for the bittering agent have changed as well.

The use of hops originates only for function, not flavor. Hops helped preserve beer traveling from England to India in the 1700s. Jump forward to the beginning of the craft beer resurgence in the early 2000s and west coast-style IPAs are all the rage. This popular style used classic, accessible west coast hop varietals creating high IBUs and piney, dank, earthy aromas were all the rage. It’s this style that Rohrbach Brewing Co.’s Railroad Street IPA was modeled after.

“When I started brewing 10-15 years ago, IPAs were all about IBUs. It sometimes felt like a competition to make the most bitter beer that you could. To be honest, I hated IPAs because of it but eventually acquired the taste.”

– Joel Will, Rohrbach Brewing Co. Director of Brewing Innovation 

But as hop farmers and brewers started developing new hop varietals, different recipes, and new brewing techniques that changed the way hops affected the beer, the consumer’s taste also evolved. The emergence of the New England-style IPA brought a fresh approach to brewing with late-additions of citrusy hops, creating a smoother, fruitier flavor and aroma with less of the bitterness.

Will says that IBUs and bitterness have become a secondary concern in IPAs, or just plain irrelevant. Many of the NEIPAs today have just as high IBUs, but taste more balanced. Fermentation also plays a factor in the evolution of IPAs: with classic west coast IPAs, beer ferments out relatively dry to accentuate the bitterness. NEIPAs are less fermented for more residual sweetness and mouthfeel.

While Railroad Street IPA has been a long-standing flagship for the 30 year-old brewery, its team knew it was time for a tweak. The new flagship IPA is not categorized as a New England-style IPA–and that’s intentional. It is, however, hazier, juicier, with a more citrus-forward aroma than its predecessor. It’s a quality American IPA that satisfies today’s preference for something a bit smoother.

“Our goal with Different Animal has been to find something in between the bitter IPAs of yesteryear and the opaque, smooth NEIPAs of today in an effort to provide a more modern IPA that everyone can enjoy.”

– Joel Will, Rohrbach Brewing Co. Director of Brewing Innovation 

And the name? While piloting recipes and perfecting brewing processes for the new IPA over the past year, Head Brewer Eric Bishop just kept saying it was a different animal from the brewing of Railroad IPA the team was used to. There was no name better fitting than that.

Rorhbach Brewing Company’s Different Animal IPA releases to stores in 16oz 4-packs across New York State the week of October 11. Celebrate its release and get your first fresh pint at either location on Wednesday, October 6. Learn more at

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