Does the IPA Still Dominate Brewing?

nickelpoint brewing

Brewers aren’t the type of people that will simply hone in on one style and stick with it for years and years — that would be boring. Instead, brewers are more like artists, looking for a multitude of inspirational ingredients and styles to help convey their innermost desire.

I know, sounds a little out there, but in reality the American brewer goes much deeper than simply a one-trick pony. Most brewers want to experiment with flavors and ingredients, but how do you do that and still excite the consumer?

In a recent interview with the head brewer and co-owner of Nickelpoint Brewing Co. in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bruce Corregan, he said that he had no idea the demand he’d receive for an IPA. “I wouldn’t have predicted that IPAs are as popular as they are,” he said. “We kind of make a less hop-forward IPA, using some of the old British techniques in terms of hop additions and whatnot, make them more flavored from the hop aroma as opposed to a lot of stringent bitterness.”

Nickelpoint actually markets its IPA as an English IPA even though it uses a combination of American and European ingredients in the beer. “It is clearly the most popular beer here in the taproom,” said Corregan. “It speaks to the consumer and the marketplace. It’s clearly slanted IPA, and I thought the Porter was going to be more popular or the Belgian Golden or other beers that we’ve got. Those are all great beers, and we sell a lot of it, [but] the IPA has been the frontrunner. I’m a little surprised how the craft beer drinker really slanted toward that.”

One of the things that Corregan is trying to do is to introduce more lesser known styles to help open up the palate of his craft consumers. “I hate to say it, but almost educating people that all craft beer doesn’t have to be hop forward and really malty and like a piece of bread,” he said. “You can actually make a very pleasant drinkable craft lager for example. I have a Vienna Lager that I make that is really starting to take off. I can’t make enough of it. I’m selling a lot to higher-end restaurants that are finding that it’s pairing well with the food they’re serving. It’s gotten really popular, it’s a year-round drinkable beer.”

Corregan wants to do more of the exploratory brewing that also pairs up well with the food that the restaurants he distributes to create. However, he realizes that the IPA is a staple in the craft brewing industry and he’ll have to make it for a long, long time.

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