First, there was Dogfish Head. Craft pioneer Sam Calagione opened his revolutionary Delaware brewpub back in 1995, years before the average beer drinker had ever heard of an IPA, let alone a fruit IPA.
Calagione, ever the risk taker, didn't think twice about introducing the world to the bitter wonders of hoppy beer (spoiler alert: it was a huge hit). And nine years later, he upped the ante by dropping apricot juice into a spring seasonal IPA already loaded with citrusy, floral Amarillo hops. He called the beer Aprihop, marketed as a fruit IPA. And lo, a new beer style was born.
Fast-forward to 2016 and beer aisles coast to coast are increasingly littered with the juicy IPAs as breweries both big and small line up to throw their hats in the ring. But how exactly did we get here? To get a handle on this fruity phenomenon, we consulted Brooklyn-based journalist Joshua M. Bernstein, author of Complete IPA and certified professional beer drinker.
"Look at the flavor and aroma descriptors of many new-wave hops: oranges and grapefruit, papaya and peaches, tangerines and lychee. By doctoring IPAs with honest-to-goodness produce, brewers can crank up the inherent fruity characteristics, flavors, and fragrances that people already love, amped up to 11," says Bernstein, noting that the style can also act as a welcome mat for those less familiar with craft beer's particularities. "I also think that fruited IPAs can help folks understand the liquid awaiting inside the can or bottle. Not every drinker understands the difference between Citra and Cascade hops, but slapping 'grapefruit' or 'orange' on a label can be a safeguard against uncertainty."