It should come to a surprise to no one, but sales tracking company GuestMetrics has released a report showing that IPA kicked ass and took names last year. According to their database (from POS systems in restaurants and bars), IPA showed stronger growth than any other type of beer last year: an amazing 39% year on year. And it's accelerating going into the second quarter of 2013; 1Q 2013 showed 40% growth.
And who's doing the best? "Based on data from GuestMetrics, the IPA brands with the largest share gains last year were Widmer Broken Halo IPA, Lagunitas India Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, and Ballast Point Sculpin."
Meanwhile, the flipside -- which might have sent craft beer geeks into spins of delight five years ago, but now only evokes a "damn straight" nod and grin -- is that "pale lager" is sucking wind.
"Pale Lagers saw unit sales contract by 5% in 2012 compared to the prior year, and as a result, experienced by far the largest share loss at about 170 basis points in 2012," said Peter Reidhead, VP of Strategy and Insights at GuestMetrics. "Additionally, in analyzing the quarter of 2013, the picture does not appear to be improving for Pale Lagers, with units contracting 6.2% against prior year, and the share loss accelerating slightly to 180 basis points." Based on data from GuestMetrics, the Pale Lager brands with the largest share loss last year were Miller Lite, Bud Light, and Budweiser."
Like I told someone in an interview the other day, betting against IPA is like betting against vodka: don't do it. This is not a cycle. This is not a trend. It's a straight, upward line. People have been looking for IPA to peak and head back down since 1995, and they've been wasting their time.
Just look at craft beer branding these days: it's all about different kinds of IPAs! We have black, double, session, rye, red, green, wheat, and white IPAs, and you can bet I missed some that a brewer is concocting even now. Brewers see that putting "IPA" on your label is like rubbing money on it; hops are crack, like Dogfish Head said about 90 Minute IPA, that's the sickness and the cure!