The Future of the IPA Part 2



The Future of the IPA Part 2

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind hops.


West Coast was big for years. North East is popping now, but we all know hops are here to stay. What comes after this?



To answer this question, we reached out to a small handful of Houston’s best. Last time it was Jeff Handojo of 11 Below Brewing in North Houston, but today it’s Bobby Harl of Back Pew Brewing in Porter.


“What’s next for the IPA is a very interesting question indeed.

To begin, I want to say that we have to look at this in two ways: the first being what beer people want to see.

Now, what do I mean by that? Typically, this group of folks are considered your “Beer Nerds,” and for the sake of conversation lets call them early adopters. These folks keep up with what’s going on, the hottest thing, and may be so passionate about it to trade beer. Often you have homebrewers in this category, but it’s those folks that want to drink most anything and everything new.

They usually have some knowledge base, whether it be proper training, or none at all, but they want to be first. For these people, the next thing coming is probably the Brut IPA.


I think this will actually fare very well in our hot, humid climate – a super dry, sessionable, hoppy beer, the style is in it’s infancy and we have already seen a few folks play with it.

Is it going ot turn out to be a big shifter like the NEIPA? Or will it end up like the forlorn Black IPA (Cascadian Dark Ale)? Only time will tell.

But, now lets shift the conversation to group 2: These are folks who I consider to like to drink craft beer, but are not necessarily interested in the most crazy, new thing out there.


They like beer they can drink, find it readily, and know they are somewhat safe in their purchase based on where it is offered. These people have shown to still like a very balanced product.

Recently, and I know it’s been talked about a lot, but Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale earned the vote of best beer in the country. Beer nerds have freaked out about this, but you have to think of what they are asking: What is the best beer? And did they ask just the beer nerd group? The answer is no, they asked everyone, from non-craft drinker to beer nerd.

And when you drink a two hearted, or many of the beers on the list, I feel they have something in common: balance. I feel this will never go away, but to do it well, scaled up, and deliver that quality stamp that is associated with your brand is very hard.


Those breweries will always be able to do the beers that come and go, but I feel a balanced, more west-coast style IPA has stuck around because people want to keep drinking them. That doesn’t mean you can’t make other kinds, but it seems to me that no matter what new hops come out, unless it trumps Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic, you’re fighting an uphill battle of a stand alone hop.

Also, a quick plug for one of my favorite hops people forget about: Cascade. Still a delicious hop!

So what do you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Beers to you, Houston!”

Bobby Harl is Back Pew Brewing’s Founder and Head Brewer. He’s a Klein High School grad with a PhD and MBA from Vanderbilt. He digs lesser-brewed styles, and when he’s not at the brewery or writing for us, he’s stressing out about his questionable selfie skills.

You can read more about Bobby and the saints/sinners over at Back Pew, or check out their site. They also recently collaborated on a beer for a cause with Addi’s Faith Foundation, a Kolsch that helps fight childhood cancer.


Beer Chronicle Team
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