Do you remember how we were back in ’05? (A waltz begins to play, distantly.) We were so young and carefree, and the Cask vs. Keg storm brewing on the horizon didn’t worry us. We thought we were invincible!
As Alan has pointed out (prompting a mild case of anxiety on our part), writing about very recent history is a risky business. Yesterday, we found ourselves struggling to recall what the UK beer scene was actually like in 2005-06, with some objectivity.
It’s feels like yesterday but, the more we read, the more it’s apparent how things have changed. It was hard, for example, to find full-bodied, heavily-hopped American-style IPAs in supposedly cosmopolitan London. They existed, but they took some hunting down, and a large part of their value was their rarity.
Meantime’s big IPA was one of the few British examples we were able to get our hands on with any ease, and it seemed a very big, boozy beer. It’s certainly no wonder Thornbridge Jaipur was greeted with such raptures in 2005.
Nowadays, any brewery aiming at the ‘craft’ segment of the market will have an IPA as a core beer in its range, rather than a limited edition ‘specialty’. They’ll probably also make a double IPA, a black IPA, twenty-four single-hopped IPAs, and one which has been cross-bred with a saison.
Those beers we thought were massively hopped, strong, and mind-blowingly intense have been devalued through inflation.
We aren’t the first to ask: are IPAs the new ‘boring brown bitter’?
What’s going to be really odd is 2007 onwards: like Marty McFly or Doctor Who, we’ll be going back through our own blogging timeline hunting for evidence.