Thursday 4 January 2024

What will replace IPA?

As someone whose beer perspective goes back as far as the Babylonians, I'm well aware that all styles have their day. Waxing and waning with technological changes and the fashions of the day. Making the eventual downfall of IPA ineluctable. (Pils is also doomed, however ubiquitous it now is.)

While not have reached total saturation point quite yet, IPA is already pushing its luck with ridiculous variations. Like Cold IPA. The style is surely not far from falling off a cliff. But what could possibly replace it? Becoming the default order of the lazy customer at the craft beer bar.

It's not easy to predict. Craft beer consumers being, to say the least, a fickle bunch. Always in search of the newest thing.

The style would have to have an easy to pronounce name, not be stupidly strong, but also with a decent amount of oomph. Easy for others to see what you're drinking, so visually distinctive in some way. And not sour.

Weighing all these factors, my guess is: Dark Mild.

But, just like IPA, this would be given an American twist. How similar are American IPAs to the ones brewed in the UK in the 20th century? Hardly at all. American Mild would be the same.

First, the ABV would have to increase. To around 6%. Easily justified: "This is what 10th-century Milds were like." And no pissing around with a pale brown colour, they would be dark. Very dark.

And, to contrast with old-man's IPA, there would be almost no trace of hops. After a while, breweries would get into an IBU arms race, seeing who could hit the lowest number. With some brewers even claiming to have negative IBUs in their Milds.

Colour would be another battleground, with brewers trying to get the darkest possible beers, boasting ridiculous SRM values. Some would eventually resemble ink.

Then all the different variations would kick off: Double Mild, Imperial Mild, Cold Mild, Hazy Mild, Wheat Mild, English Mild, Belgian Mild, Session Mild and, inevitably, White Mild and Barrel-aged Mild.

Plant scientists would develop new barley varieties with new flavours. While maltsters would experiment with new types of malt. Leading to shortages of the most fashionable types, causing some brewers to discontinue their flagship Milds.

The future is looking great.

32 comments:

InSearchOfKnowledge said...

Two words: "Kasteel Donker" :-)

Anonymous said...

"[S]ome brewers even claiming to have negative IBUs ion their Milds.

[B]rewers trying to get the darkest possible beers [...]. Some would eventually resemble ink."


đŸ€Ł This must be the funniest thing i read from you writing for some time. 😂

Gunhaus said...

I thought we already did brown and amber over here? I don't think the new generation actually likes beer flavor - I think barley free beers are the new coming trend.

Ed said...

Surely dark mild can't make a comeback any time soon? It was only "back in 2013 we had barely emerged from the dark mild ages": https://www.pelliclemag.com/home/2019/5/2/ten-years-of-fuss-the-defining-uk-beers-of-the-last-ten-years

Anonymous said...

I've often thought that there is no shame in not liking beer. They can drink cider, wine, seltzer, etc. But why do those who don't like beer have to ruin it for the rest of us by insisting on fruity garbage and the like in beer. Very frustrating.

Christoph Riedel said...

This all sounds strangely familiar :-D

Something I wanted to point out is that these long term trends are quite different in different countries. In Germany Pilsner has reigned for a few decades now, but is currently pushed out by a new wave of Helles for those drinkers that don't like the bitterness. IPA never got a proper foothold in Germany. And before Pilsner it was Export that was mostly drunk.

So it's all a bit different depending on the country where one lives.

Richard said...

The future is unhopped beers!

Bobcat said...

IDS -India Dark Seltzer

Anonymous said...

Don't forget milkshake mild and pastry mild!

Bribie G said...

Imperial Baltic Mild.
Fruit Mild
Mild sour

Anonymous said...

I think German Pilsner is very dull German beer drinkers should champion their native beer styles including Dortmunder/Export and Helles. Any way Helles is pale mild lager with Dubkel being dark mild lager.
Oscar

Anonymous said...

Bravo Ron a great bit of Swiftianian prose. In all seriousness with the amount of sweet things people eat these days it is not exactly unfeasible that sweet malty beers might come back.

Oscar

James H said...

https://www.ratebeer.com/beer/mill-valley-imperial-chocolate-milkshake-mild/686236/

Anonymous said...

Ron, I think that your favorite beer, St Bernardous Abt, may well qualify as an imperial dark mild. You’ve started a trend!

Rob Sterowski said...

Some German Pilsners are very good, some are rotten. I am bored with the new wave of Helles which all look and taste the same and are now being sold in parts of Germany that never brewed Munich-style Helles.

Dortmunder Export isn't really a style.

John said...

Can we make tramp juice fashionable in some way? Artisanal Elephant beer, anyone?

Anonymous said...

2024 is the year of Gold Label clones/ parodies

Chris Pickles said...

Bring back QC sherry. It used to be the tramp drink of choice. It should free up some malt and hops for better use.

Anonymous said...

Ed that article is full of snobbery against British regional breweries and British beer styles.

Oscar

Russell Gibbon said...

Well I cannot recall seeing another of your posts getting so many comments - 17 before I put this one in. I was guffawing when I read your post yesterday, Ron, as you are predicting that for the first time ever in my 65 years, I am about to become trendy! I first drank a dark mild in 1977, I first brewed my own dark mild in 2012. It seems to me that there are always basically two types of beer drinker - 1) those needing safety and certainty and 2) those needing something new and different. Being an awkward sod, I straddle both. I need the certainty of a classic quality beer, hence my interest in your classic and classyolden brewlog recipes. Now and then though I like to try summat new out when I brew a beer. Like baking my grains post mash for 3 hours in the oven to attempt to make my own cack handed version of a Lithuanian Keptinis. But for me, all these new fangled seltsers, fruity and sludge beers, beers that taste like floor cleaner, nah . . . no thanks.

Anonymous said...

I’m young at 20 but prefer certainty and my regular tipple is Sullivans red a ruby mild ale.

Oscar

Maltydog said...

Hey a dark mild of any kind is already preferable to me over any IPA, so this would work for me, even if it is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Agreed thank god it is easy to find malty sweet ale in Ireland.

Oscar

Anonymous said...

When I lived in the US beers had things against them if the name was impossible to pronounce, or if the name sounded meek and...mild, or if it sounded...bitter. Bitter-style beers I saw sold variously as ESB, English ale or red ale (Irish red ale being something entirely different), mild was available but not popular. IPA ticks the easy acronym box. How about Young Mild Crystal Ale? There's even a song about it...

Anonymous said...

“Irish red ale” is mild ale.
Oscar

Ron Pattinson said...

Oscar,

that's a bold statement.

In the past, I wondered about that myself.

Now I'd argue Irish Red Ale has its origins in Pale Ale. And that Irish Mild, sadly, just died out.

Anonymous said...

Yes - in the US I've seen what was clearly English bitter-influenced beer sold as 'red ale' without any 'Irish' added; and 'Irish red ale' sold as something more akin to your commercial Irish red ales. Point being when I asked Americans about bitter they'd often say 'oh I don't like bitter drinks' so my presumption is brewers tried to rebrand to avoid use of the bitter moniker. Pale ale seemed perfectly acceptable.

Anonymous said...

It can’t be a coincidence that Smithwicks red was launched by Guinness after acquiring breweries that formerly brewed mild ale.
Oscar

Anonymous said...

British Mild used to be a pale unaged malt liquor. When you factor in that you still have paler coloured milds in the shades that bitter ranges in it doesn’t make them less of a mild. Modern mild is a very malty ale with hops in the back seat. When you factor in that crystal malt only started to be used in the 1960’s in bitters/pale ales and Smithwicks red launched in the mid 1960’s features quite a whack of crystal malt, low hopping rates and is very sweet doesn’t that make Smithwicks red a mild as mild is more of a brewing philosophy than a style or type.

When it comes to IBU’s most “Irish red ales’s” are in the teens to mid twenties some just above like Ballykilcavan Brickfiekd red at 27 IBU and there were English milds at that level of bitterness.
The sweetest are Dundalk Bay brewery brewmaster red ale (15 IBU), BrĂș red ale (18 IBU), Brehon brewhouse killany red ale/raglan road red ale, Sullivans red ale, Smithwicks red ale, White Deer stag rua red ale, Reel Deel Mayo red ale, Ballykilcavan Brickfield red ale, Porterhouse red ale 33 IBU, Galway Bay bay red ale (33 IBU) and Dungarvan copper cost red ale (34 IBU). I might remind you that Holts mild is at 32 IBU but no one doubts it is a mild.

There are a number of breweries producing dark mild as you know it Ron in Ireland. Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne Uncle Columb’s dark mild, Ballykilcavan Endurance dark mild and Four Provinces Gob Fliuch dark mild.

Guinness did aqquire breweries that used to make mild like Smithwick’s and Perry’s so it would not have been beyond their capability to brew a dark mild.

If you wanted a pale ale/bitter then you had Watney’s red barrel, Double Diamond, Phoinix ale or any other of Beamish,Murphy’s and Guinness’s pale ales/bitters.

Simon from Real Ale Craft Beer when reviewing Sullivans red noted that Sullivans red reminded him of a dark mild.

Oscar

Anonymous said...

I also forgot to mention Heamey red same level of bitterness as Sullivans red and O’ Hara’s red ake same level of bitterness as Dungarvan copper coast red ale.

Oscar

Kennybrew said...

This is funny. I brewed an Old Ale and aged it in a 13gal bourbon barrel for 14 months. When emptied, I needed something to fill the barrel. I brewed 15gals of Dark Mild to use basically as a holding solution for the barrel. After six months I packaged it up. Won first in our little brew club's Peoples Choice competition. Two months later a FB post, in a Craft Beer type group, asked, "What was your favorite beer of 2023?". Some attendee to our competition posted it was my Mild! The only homebrewed beer on the list. So, there are some that may not shy away from a 4% barrel aged beer! I entered it into a competition and it scored poorly. "Tasted too much like a lighter Old Ale." Well, there's that...Cheers'

Rob Sterowski said...

My opinion is that Irish Red is part of the same wave of keg beers that included Watneys Red in England and Tartan Special in Scotland. The key characteristics being that they were significantly sweeter, less bitter, than the pale ales they descended from, and had a tiny amount of roast barley for colour. Nothing to do with Mild.