#94) Loving the hater: an open letter to the Thrillist’s Dave Infante

the-better-ipa

Dear Dave,

First of all, nice job on the name.

Second, a little more explanation: having recently turned twenty-one and noting the world’s desperate shortage of over-wrought musings on hitting an age-related milestone, my original plan was to write a post in which I would share my deep wisdom with my eager fan base a la Lena Dunham. That said, I have been known to be easily distracted and when [squirrel!] I came across your article on why you hate IPAs, I decided to respond.

A little over five years ago, three letters changed my life: I, P and A. Having cut my teeth on heavier beers such as Sam Adams, Guinness, Bass and Newcastle, I found that the presence of hops and other citrus-type flavors in India Pale Ales, ingredients that originally were designed to keep beer pure on its long journey from England to India where it served as rations for soldiers, gave them body without the heaviness of the aforementioned labels. I’ve probably tried over 100 different IPAs and am always looking forward to my next one. Each has its own character; some try too hard and some don’t try had enough; some taste too much like Pilsners but I drink every glass to the last drop; it feels fundamentally wrong to let even a milliliter of the stuff go to waste.

That said, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to hate. You’re entitled to your opinion and while I may be on the popular side of this one, more often than not I’m left shaking my head about why folks seem to flock to something [cough Stella Artois cough] whose appeal I couldn’t see if my life depended on it. In other words: though we come down on different sides on the IPA issue, I feel your pain.

You don’t just hate the beverage itself; you hate the attitude of those who drink it. Mustachioed home brewers who until recently had no idea what an IPA was are trying to shove their latest creation down your throat; you can’t spend two minutes online without stumbling on someone’s IPA blog; your favorite dive bar now has Green Flash, Point the Way and Stone Ruination instead of Mickey’s and the local liquor store has a big vinyl banner reading “We Sell Craft Beer” pinned up above the prostitute passed out in the doorway.

For my part, it does feel a little weird to see people jumping on the IPA train. The beer’s rise in popularity has led to a saturation of the market and in some ways I miss when it was niche. Yes, it’s fun to geek out about ABV and IBUs, but I can’t help feeling as if most of these folks will move onto something even more millennial when they get the chance.

Yet in a way that could be a source of comfort for you. In the immortal words of Tower of Power, what is hip today might become passe. Whether it does, there’s nothing wrong with you for not liking IPAs, just like there’s nothing wrong with me for not watching “Mad Men”, not listening to John Legend and not reading “50 Shades of Gray” or “Twilight.” The fact that I’m on the popular side of the IPA conversation is pure luck.

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