Hip to be (less) hoppy: Beer trends for the weekend and the festival

Bold, hoppy IPAS have been the craze among craft-beer drinkers over the past few years, with hundreds of labels to choose from as producers everywhere jumped on the bandwagon.

Big hoppy IPAs have been the darling of beer drinkers, but a new sipper is on tap

Little less hoppy

6 years ago
Duration 0:35
Calgary beer trends

Boldly traditional IPAs have been the craze among craft-beer drinkers for a few years, with hundreds of labels to choose from as producers everywhere jumped on the bandwagon.

Beer writer Jason van Rassel, however, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday that could change with a new trend on the horizon.

It's good information to have as the weather warms up and the Calgary International Beerfest gets underway on Friday at the BMO Centre.

Anyone who's been imbibing craft beer knows that India pale ale has become the "flagship" quaff of smaller breweries over the past few years. But it's not to everyone's taste.

"These are beers that can be on the more bitter side and it can be polarizing — either people love them or hate them," van Rassel says.

A less bitter IPA

There's a new-ish sipper on the block, says van Rassel, known as New England IPA because it hails from the northeast United States. Plenty of small brewers are picking up on the style, described as less bitter with citrus and mango notes. 

"It's turned some people on to a style that was kind of polarizing and maybe some people weren't into," said van Rassel.

Traditional IPAs feature a big hoppy flavour, favoured by many craft-beer connoisseurs. (B.C. Hops Company)

With this new flavour showing favour, van Rassel says the traditional love of the bitter IPA might go flat.   

"There's been a bit of a backlash. When you look at how easy drinking the New England IPAs are and how long and how many breweries were making more traditional piney-resiney IPAs, it's become kind of derided and old through no fault of their own."

There are still great traditional IPAs, but people are just saying "they're sick of it … it's too overdone."

The International Calgary Beerfest attracted more than 40,000 people last year. When it started in 2005, van Rassel said the entire exhibit space was about the size of this year's coat check.

Though International is still in the name of the Calgary festival, it will feature a greatly expanded contingent of Alberta brewers. Thanks to Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission changes in 2013, the number of breweries and brewpubs has shot up from 18 in 2004 to 54 in 2016. 

It's expected there will be at least 30 new brewing operations in the province this year