Love it or hate it: IPA

by David Holub

Love it

OK, let’s say you walk into a room. If this room were a lager, it would be a studio apartment,minimally decorated with stuff you’d find on the walls at a Comfort Inn. If the room were a stout, it would be dark and shadowy, a musty, bitter stench coming from the aged carpet. If there were enough light to see the walls, they’d be painted brown, but not a good brown, a bad smoke-room brown from the ’70s. There are doors to other rooms, but you know that if you open them, it will be more of the same, more bad brown.

But this room, thank God, is an IPA, awash in pure orange sunshine blasting through 12-foot windows, bouquets of fresh flowers, notes of grapefruity citrus fluttering about the crisp spring air being piped in from somewhere glorious. The walls are pale orange with white trim and the art hanging is bold and fresh and bright, the subject matter refreshing and challenging. There are doors everywhere, leading to only more goodness, more sunshine.

To me, this is what IPA is, pure sunshine and goodness. Its bright flavors so complex and immense, each gulp taking your tastebuds on a ride: Tart citrus, sweet floral, and enough tight and bright hoppy bitterness to give the back of your tongue the kick in the pants it probably needs.

— David Holub

Hate it

For years, I tried to love IPA. I politely accepted pints of it at friends’ houses, cracked cans at parties. I even ordered it at the bar. But try as I might to enjoy this hoppiest of brews, my palate wasn’t having it. Mostly, I grimaced my way through the bitter and unchuggable IPAs until they became too warm to stand (which happens the second they are remotely non-icy), and then poured them out when nobody was looking. In this world of bold flavors, strong ales and aggressive notes, some may argue I’m a flavor sissy for this particular aversion. But I’ve come to accept the fact that to me, drinking IPA is like having an obnoxious little man skanking away in my mouth – stomping his boots, throwing elbows and beating my taste buds senseless. And I suspect there are many more out there who secretly can’t stand IPA. To those people, I say this: Come out of the IPA closet. It’s liberating and vast, this world of beers that are actually drinkable. You’ll never have to choke down another room-temperature IPA again. Because, as good friend put it, “warm IPA is like Satan’s saliva.”

— Katie Klingsporn


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