IPA LITE to be the trend for 2013?

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in Editorial | 7 Comments

IPA-LITE to be the beer trend for 2013?


Although our 2013 beer predictions are already in the bank, there are a few more trends I can see happening this year. Look for more arty types to brew with foraged ingredients, for example – and for more mid-sized producers to quietly open one or two pubs. Also, I think the expanding market will push more contractor breweries into taking the plunge and buying their own kit. Finally, and this is backed up by yesterday’s announcement from Magic Rock – 2013 could be the year of the low-abv kegged IPA.

For a while now, the newer generation of British breweries (I’m desperately trying to avoid that other C-word) have been piling one super hoppy Pale Ale or IPA on top of the next. Keep them coming, I say. During 2010, the established hop-pushers took their cue from the States and started putting out Black IPA’s – many of which were sensational. Most of the others were slightly hopped-up porters, but that’s semantics for you. I wondered at the time what the next IPA trend would be, and as Imperials and Double IPA’s began arriving, it looked as if the abv wars would escalate.

Now, however, things could be going the other way. To some extent, it could be seen as natural progression. You take a style, brew it, then go a bit bigger, then a different colour, then back to the first colour but make it a lot bigger, then the second colour but bigger, then add cloves at wintertime.* From there, return to the starting point, and there’s only one way to go – smaller. I’m sure people like Rich and Stu at Magic Rock give it a tad more thought than that, but after the plethora of US-style Pale Ales and IPA’s released on keg here in recent years, lowering the abv and returning to the session has a neat sense of full-circle closure about it.

* I am available for hire as a brewery consultant, incidentally

Beers like Magic Rock’s Simpleton, Kernel’s Table Beer and BrewDog Blitz all have some thought behind them, unlike many of the 2.8% duty killers that were rushed out in response to the Treasury lowering taxes on low-abv beers. They will all attract a lower rate of duty, however, so in many respects it makes sense for breweries to add a 3%er to their lineup, if they don’t have one already. If more modern, keg-forward breweries do so, and drinkers get a taste for them – IPA LITE could become the trend for 2013. Session keg, anyone?


  1. Stuart
    January 10, 2013

    Along your line of thinking, much like the New Wave of British Heavy Metal ( NWOBHM ) we should use NWOBB ( New Wave of British Breweries/Brewing ) . Each country gets to make their own acronym and the argument over the Craft word is done. NWOAB etc Nice hashtag as well #NWOBB

  2. FyneJamie
    January 11, 2013

    Rich – what’s the difference here between an IPA Lite and a well hopped Pale Ale (like Jarl / Rune etc)? It seems like if you take the Imperial out of IPA you get Pale Ale? (Signed by a proud #NWOBB)

  3. Richard
    January 11, 2013

    Like it! ‘Are you into NWOBB?’ ‘Yeah, kind of – but I prefer his earlier stuff’

    Jamie – If you take the Imperial out of IPA, you get IPA, don’t you? 😉 Take your point though – the BJCP will be having kittens over a 3% IPA. But when do styles matter, eh?

  4. tania_nexust
    January 11, 2013

    Looking forward to hopefully a lot more lower-ABV beers that are worth drinking – I don’t as a rule make decisions on what beer I’m buying in a bar based on ABV if I’m only there for a few drinks – but for parties, evenings in, long pub visits, or afternoon drinking – I’d much rather there were more lower ABV beers around that you could choose based on flavour – so it’s not a compromise to have something less strong, you are genuinely choosing for taste and the fact it is lower is a bonus that means you can enjoy a few more without having to try to make your stronger-ABV beer last a while more than nature dictates. I appreciate it must be very difficult technically to pack a lot of flavour and body into a lower strength beer, but I’m sure some of the NWOBB are up to the challenge and eagerly anticipate tasting their efforts. Loved the Kernel Table Beer at 3% and hope we see more like that.

    Also Stuart – I think that’s a great acronym, sums it up nicely, and seems appropriate when there is a bit of a metal/alt music and beer brewing crossover! Been struggling myself to find a way to refer to the current crop of ‘interesting’ brewers in our shores when writing blog posts, but I think NWOBB may hit the spot!

  5. Richard Morrice
    January 11, 2013

    I’m not a friend of trends. They can be an excuse for the lazy to stop thinking for themselves.
    It’s easier to jump on a bandwagon than chart your own path (rather lyrical that) but at least there is something to talk about in brewing these days – and it’s fun.
    More lower abv beers please. Last year’s crop was very mixed – in fact I can’t think of one that I really enjoyed.

  6. The50FTQueenie
    January 11, 2013

    This can only be a good thing.

    Recent trends in brewing higher and higher abvs are all well and good, but are useless for those (like myself) that enjoy a good session now and then. It might also actually tempt more of the corporate brew junkies, brought up on a lifetime of fizz and pish to see what they are are missing.

    And for people like me, who like to start the sesh on the light side and climb the mountain of abv to beervana, it makes an excellent base camp of choice!

  7. Stuart McLuckie
    January 11, 2013

    Seems to fit the Ordinary Bitter category just nicely.

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