I’m all for questioning conventional wisdom. Yes, IPAs have been a hot beer style for years, but I’d begun to wonder if, by now, Americans weren’t getting a bit tired of the hop trend. The answer: an emphatic no.
Yesterday, the Brewers Association presented its 2014 Craft Beer U.S. Market Review in conjunction with Dan Wandel of IRI consumer research group. The overall numbers were good for beer as a whole: sales trends outpaced wine and spirits in grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores and Sam’s Club/Costco-type warehouses. What style led the charge? IPAs, far and away.
IPAs continue to increase in both sales numbers and the number of brands offered. Last year alone saw the introduction of 117 new IPA brands to grocery store shelves. (That’s not even counting bottle shops and smaller retailers.) In 2014, consumers could choose from 741 IPA brands at the grocery store, compared to 215 in 2009. There are more imperial IPAs in grocery stores than amber ales, which continues to boggle my mind. IPAs and pale ales account for 30% of all craft beer sales in restaurants and bars; far outpacing lagers, seasonals, wheats, etc.
The big new IPA winner was Sam Adams’ Rebel line (which includes an IPA, a double IPA and a session IPA). It was the runaway new product of the year, with sales seven times larger than the second-highest grossing new product, Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. Another winner? Session IPAs as a whole, whose sales were up 450% (!!!) from 2013, thanks to plenty of new products in that category.
Whether IPAs will sustain this growth for years or eventually be replaced by other styles remains to be seen; for now, we’re expecting more sessionable offerings to continue to drive the trend. If all these stats have you suddenly craving something hoppy, check out these nine double IPAs we’re digging now.