IPA still America’s juggernaut, but lighter styles growing

The Craft Brewers Conference concluded in Nashville on Thursday May 3

India Pale Ale and its derivations are still contributing the vast majority of craft beer sector growth in America, but several more approachable styles are also on the rise.

Five hop driven styles – IPA, Imperial IPA, Session IPA, American Pale Ale and Fruit IPA – are responsible for more than a third of craft beer dollar sales, Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson revealed.

“More importantly, they were more than three quarters of growth,” he told the Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville.

“IPA continues to be as much a platform for innovation as it is a singular style. We’re already seeing in 2018 that juicy or hazy IPAs or pale ales are poised to be the next breakout star of this hoppy category.”

IPA is now the third most popular beer style of all in the US, behind only American lagers and light lagers. The style accounts for 3.1 per cent of the total beer market by volume and 6.4 per cent by value.

Lighter styles in growth
Watson said five lighter beer styles – Blonde Ale, Cream Ale, Kolsch, Wheat Ale and Pilsner – also saw growth in 2017.

“Although they were a small percentage of overall craft dollars, they were 25 per cent of the growth, so we’re seeing a quarter of the growth coming from these lighter styles,” he said.

“I believe there’s a lot of run room here, as the craft demographic ages a little bit and people who love and connect with their brands look for lighter, more sessionable styles to fit more occasions.”

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