Brewers including Young Henrys, Feral, Mornington Peninsula, and Colonial have all released new India Pale Ales in the last few weeks.
Earlier this year I posed the question, ‘Will IPA take off in Australia?’
The style has clearly gathered momentum during 2016, after 30 IPAs were named in the GABS Hottest 100 in January.
For the record, I predict a multitude of factors unique to Australia – including volumetric alcohol excise, stringent drink driving laws and limited tap access – will constrain the style from ever reaching the same dizzy heights it has in the US.
But there’s no doubting what beer style is currently trending in Australian craft beer, based on the latest crop of new releases:
- Young Henrys Summer Hop Ale
- Fury and Son IPA
- Lord Nelson Backburner IPA
- Little Creatures Single Batch Very Hoppy Ale (VHA) Series Double IPA
- Colonial Australian IPA
- Mornington Peninsula Hop Culture Session IPA
- Modus Operandi Sonic Prayer IPA and Session IPA
- Feral War Hog American IPA
- Bentspoke Crankshaft IPA
- Red Hill Red Bike Session IPA
- Little Brewing Simcoe IPA
- Bridge Road IPA Experience Pack
- Cavalier Brewing & Catfish Tavern ‘Double Life’ IIPA
- Bacchus n Buckets Double IPA
- Black Hops Brewing Hornet IPA
- Hope XPA, IPA and Black IPA
- Nail VPA (coming soon)
Young Henrys founder Richard Adamson believes 2016 has been a pivotal year for IPA in Australia.
“People that I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy the style are getting into it. They aren’t the stereotypical beer nerds, it’s getting a bit more mainstream,” he said.
“People are coming into the tasting bar asking straight up, ‘what’s your IPA?’”
Young Henrys Summer Hop Ale is a 6.1 per cent ABV West Coast IPA, which will alternate with a winter version.
“It’ll be around until February or March and then we’ll bring out the winter version, which will be similar to the dark one that we did previously,” he said.
“We’ll choose what hops goes into each one, based on seasonality – what’s available and tasting good.”
Little Creatures IPA
Australia’s most widely distributed IPA is likely that of Little Creatures, which is sold through Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Vintage Cellars and independent retailers.
The beer is performing well in both draught and packaged formats, marketing manager Ash Cranston told Australian Brews News.
“To be honest, we just let it sit there and bubble away in the background,” he said.
“It’s had really nice strong organic growth, and I would absolutely attribute that to people exploring IPA more.”
Creatures has further backed Australians to embrace the genre with the recent launch of its Very Hoppy Ale series.
IPA cranking at Bentspoke
Bentspoke has recently released its biggest selling draught beer, Crankshaft IPA, in cans. Co-founder Richard Watkins predicts the style will continue to grow in Australia.
“I think it will certainly still increase and then it might peak a little bit lower than the US, because we’re behind in terms of timeframe,” he told Australian Brews News.
“In the US, IPA’s slowing down, so that means Australia won’t reach the same peak the US did.”
All about hops
It’s hard to get a read on what this will translate to, in terms of actual growth.
IPAs were only the fifth biggest selling craft beer category through Dan Murphy’s stores as of April this year, though many of the brands that are most prolific in this space are not ranged through the major chains.
But if IPA is ever going to ‘take off’ in Australia, surely it has done so during 2016 (albeit within the microcosm that is Australian craft beer, relative to the US).
The style’s leading advocate Mitch Steele recently bemoaned that American brewers were focusing unduly on IPA, at the expense of all other beer styles.
Based on their current beer rosters, are Australian craft brewers in danger of doing the same?