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Stop pretending to like IPAs

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This originally appeared in my Broke-Ass City column in the SF Examiner.

There’s something I need to say. It’s a tough thing to do and takes bravery, but this has been weighing on my moral compass for far too long. It’s about time someone comes out with it and speaks up, so here I go:

IPAs are a lie.

There, I said it. In a few years, Americans will all look at each other and shrug:

“To be honest, I never liked IPAs.”

“You neither?”

“Nah, I just went along with it because I thought I was supposed to like them.”

“Me too!”

An India Pale Ale, IPA for short, is a strong, hoppy beer that basically gives your tongue a wedgie, noogie and purple-nurple all at the same time, while making your taste buds scream, “Uncle!” And when your little buds do scream, the IPA calls them a wuss. That’s right: IPAs are the bullies of beers, and Americans are falling all over themselves pretending they are delicious.

I know, I know. I just heard that, too. It was the sound of speechlessness. Of pint glasses slipping from hands in cinematic slow-motion before shattering on the floor. Of beer droplets standing on the precipice of beards, beading on the end, as they decide whether or not to jump. Yes, beer drinkers, I went there. I just besmirched the mighty IPA. And no, I will not take it back.

It wasn’t always this way. The IPAs that came out 15-plus years ago, like Racer 5 and Lagunitas, were more balanced and inviting. Sure, they were hoppier and more bitter than other beers, but they weren’t assholes about it. And beer lists weren’t catered just toward them.

Sometime in the past decade, brewers decided beer wasn’t hoppy enough. They began one-upping each other, trying to see who could make a beer so hoppy that the drinker’s face would pucker up like an angry anus. They wanted to see whose beer could make it feel like your tonsils had been stomped out by a street gang.

They wanted to craft beer so hoppy that it would steal you soul.

That last part might be a little hyperbolic, but you get the point.

Somehow, Americans have convinced themselves the more hellish a beer tastes, the better it must be. Do you really want to drink a quintuple IPA that uses eleventy kinds of hops and has been arrested for assault? Sure, it gets you drunk quicker, but so does Mad Dog 20/20, and I don’t see you drinking that.

I’m asking you to stand up and demand good tasting beer. Put down that mean-spirited IPA and pick up something that actually makes you smile. There are so many kinds of beer out there to choose from, why go with the one that bullies your taste buds? You can get drunk and enjoy it, too.

I’ve just opened the door for you, now all you’ve got to do is step through it.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. Daen de Leon
    January 29, 2018 at 9:49 am

    “An India Pale Ale, IPA for short, is a strong, hoppy beer …”

    Nope. Those are not the IPAs I know from growing up in England in the 70s and 80s. Make something more like those (Greene King, for example, at 3.6%) and I’m pretty sure people would like them again for all the right reasons.

    • Eduardo Corrochio
      April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

      I also grew up in the U.K. and remember fondly the IPA’s brewed and enjoyed there. The Pacific Northwest IPA’s are brewed to almost the same specifications, the difference without getting to technical are the Hops used, European style hops, tend not to have the bitterness that west coast hops have. I say let’s just be grateful and enjoy the wide variety of quality beer we have access to. No one should feel pressure to like/dislike a beer based on trends, the one universal truth is ‘there is no excuse to drink bad beer’

  2. thefritopundito
    February 4, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Ba-S, you are entitled to your own opinion, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to share it. I truly like really hoppy IPAs, and you are not going to bully me into saying otherwise. See, there, I called YOU a bully.

  3. dave_slc
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Wow…with opinions like this, no wonder Stuart is broke. If you were pretending to like IPA’s just because it is popular, that is your own stupidity and weird lack of intestinal fortitude. Projecting your own shortcomings onto others though? That’s just lame.

  4. David Merz
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    You could have written the same column about sushi.

  5. unrepentant
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    You better speak the truth! Thank you.

  6. Andrew Cross
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Ah! IPA’s? A very fashionable pint, brewed in many different ways by many different breweries But, and this the biggie, how did IPA’s become a fashionable beer again. Now that is a story. Back in the late 80’s a pub owner in Edinburgh, Iain Whyte and his father brewed a home brew in a bucket using a traditional recipe and asked a local brewery, Caledonian on Slateford Road, Edinburgh to mass produce the recipe. No, Iain forgot to patent the recipe and the name IPA. But the biggie is that most of what are called IPA’s are nothing to do with the new original version.

  7. jflamm
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Love IPA’s – if you don’t that’s cool. Why does it take bravery to express your preferences?

  8. germancarsonly
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    I find it very easy to pass on IPAs.

  9. TheCalifornian
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    I’ve been on a super strict diet for a few months and my occasional treat of choice is an IPA about once a week. There is nothing as delicious.

  10. Steve Wood
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    I used to be just like you. However, just like the first time you tried beer or coffee or many other things its and aquired taste and many like me end up loving hops, IPAs and very hoppy beers. You just got to work through it and then you will never look back.

  11. Geek__Girl
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Thanks! I agree completely. IPAs are a fad, and a bad one. For those who say it is an ”acquired taste,” I say it is not worth acquiring. Why should one “learn” to like something so vile, just to gain some status? Does that not prove my assertion that status is about proving how stupid you are?

  12. Amy Priscilla
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    What chu talking about Willis?!?

  13. Gluten-full
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Like anything, to each their own. For example I also love my coffee black, deli dill pickles, and black licorice, while none of my family apreciates any of these
    I happen to love IPAs, truley. I love the duality of the floral and bitterness. Generally, to me, they taste like some strain of KGB. Reminds us me of younger and far less responsible days. Porters are money too, so are some pilsners……

  14. arbcar
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Eau my! Aren’t we controversial!

  15. April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Finally! IPAs are nasty and I canNOT wait until the fad finally dies.