Overrated can be a loaded word, and it’s often hurled at whatever style the latest tastemakers have deemed to be on its way out. Among them are some of the more hype-y styles shaking up the industry since the craft beer boom. Some people scoff at these popular beers, while others line up to snag the first tastes of them. Some brewers just see them as filling up tank space that could have gone to something more exciting and innovative.
The beer industry had a difficult year in 2023, and perhaps some of its stalwarts are beginning to feel a bit stale. Is beer simply facing massive growing pains? And if the industry is entering a new stage, does it need to leave behind some styles to make room for the new? Here, we asked 15 brewers which beer styles they feel are the most overrated. From hazy IPAs to pastry stouts to smoothies lactosed within an inch of their lives, here are the ones the pros believe have been given more credit than they’re due.
The Most Overrated Beer Styles, according to brewers:
- Hazy IPAs
- Heavily fruited smoothie beers
- New Zealand pilsners
- Sweet, opaque double IPAs
- Non-alcoholic beers
- Lactose-heavy beers
- Pastry stouts
- Kettle sours
- Sour IPAs
“This is a tricky question. Although I think there are a lot of overrated hazy IPAs around the world, I respect this style because it’s an ‘entrance door’ for a lot of non-craft beer drinkers. With that being said, my vote would go for New Zealand pilsners. Although it’s seen as an original or hyped take on a crispy and refreshing beer, I find them often unbalanced and annoying since I can’t enjoy neither the pilsner aspect of it, nor their overpowering and hoppy taste.” —Maria Shirts, head brewer, Tin Roof Brewing Co., Baton Rouge, La.
“Anything in the heavily fruited or smoothie territory. Of course it tastes good, it’s full of fruit.” —JP Boudwin, head brewer, Native Son, Los Angeles
“I’d say sweet, opaque double IPAs. Not because they don’t deserve a place in the market, but the ubiquity detracts from the availability of drier, more nuanced counterparts. Give me more hoppy offerings in the 5 to 7 percent range with enough translucency to suggest a profile beyond just hoppy.” —Luke Fuhrman, owner and brewer, Weaver Hollow Brewery, Andes, N.Y.
“In my opinion, the hazy IPA is the most overrated beer. All you see in the market nowadays are IPAs or hazy IPAs. I think this causes breweries to focus only on this style and limits them from making anything else because ‘it won’t sell.’” —Jovan Gonzalez, brewery manager, Societe Brewing Co., San Diego
“For me, the most overrated beer style has to be smoothie sours, and by that I mean beers where the flavor is completely dominated by unfermented fruit puree. The sight of those chunks floating in barely carbonated fruit soup honestly kind of turns my stomach. Of all of the hyped beer styles, I think they’re probably the least beer-like and also the least difficult to make, and I say that having done a few myself. For all of their many evils, even pastry stouts are at least fundamentally a beer underneath the candy coating.” —Luke Thorley, head brewer, Personal Best Brewing, Ithaca, N.Y.
“I think the most overrated styles have to be NA beers. They, by and large, do not hit the mark on flavor. It’s a very nice sentiment, but I prefer a sparkling water, or Diet Coke, as a treat.“ —Andrew Schwartz, cofounder, Human People Beer, Seattle
“I think beers that are heavily reliant on lactose (classic milk stout excluded) are overrated. I think they brought up the expected level of sweetness in some styles of beer, like the IPA. People have been chasing a sweeter and sweeter profile and losing balance.” —Brendon Boudwin, brewer and co-owner, Carbon Copy, Philadelphia
“Hot take, but heavily fruited sours have to be the most overrated beer style — if you even call it that. I think I die a little every time I have to push drums of fruit puree into a fermenter.” —LaTroya Butts, brewer, Resident Culture Brewing Co., Charlotte, N.C.
“I’m gonna sound like a typical brewer and say hazy IPAs. They are overrated all across the board.“ —Del Hidalgo, cellarperson, Fifth Hammer Brewing Co., Long Island City, N.Y.
“My most overrated beer style is pastry stouts. I hate pastry stouts because they are really painful and laborious to make and they are so filling, rich, and over the top. And they’re not something I enjoy drinking a full glass of, but are nice to taste in 4-ounce portions.” —Bobby Rolandi, head brewer. Kings County Brewers Collective, Brooklyn
“Kettle sours, because they upset my tummy. They’re also usually packed with a bunch of fruit and adjuncts that just taste like those adjuncts instead of the actual beer underneath. And I can only drink one of them, if that.” —Theo Castillo, founder and brewer, No Seasons, Miami
“I might get some hate for this one, but I’m going to say it: pastry stouts. I think any style that’s trying to mimic a meal is very odd. I don’t have a problem with a rich, decadent, balanced stout, but why would anyone want to drink a dessert? I think there is beauty in nailing flavors when making beer, but we really don’t need more mint chocolate chip cookie, caramelized banana, cosmic brownie, peanut butter cup, coconut macaroon, and tiramisu beer. At first, it was pretty interesting what processes help to enhance and really bring out those specific flavors, but it’s gone pretty overboard in the last few years.” —Andreina Uribe, cellarperson, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Brooklyn
“‘Sours as a category. It’s killed traditional lactic-fermented styles in the U.S., as now lactose and fruit have become the norm in ‘sour’ beer. So when a consumer comes in and asks for a sour, they are really asking a different question. I hate sweet beers, so anything with lactose is a no-go for me, and I think they are for consumers that don’t really like beer.” —Chris Lohring, founder and brewer, Notch Brewing, Salem, Mass.
“I’m over fruited IPAs or sour IPAs. I just don’t think it’s what IPAs are for, and I don’t think they’re achieving what people want them to achieve.” —Sydney Atkin, brewer, Other Half Brewing, Brooklyn
“I know that a lot of folks will probably say hazy or New England IPAs, but I actually do like a lot of hazies, though I can’t say that I drink them all too often. I’m going to take it a step further and say that triple IPAs in general are overrated from many standpoints. As a brewer, do we really need to make an IPA with that much grain — oats in some cases, talk about a slow runoff — and hops? From a beer-tender standpoint, I have seen people crush TIPAs as if they were Sierra Nevada pale ales, and then they wonder why we had to cut them off. I’m not going to let you down three to five 10-percenters before you drive your wife and kids home. And from a consumer point of view, they are almost always overly sweet and thick, so overall, it’s just a big no from me.” —Molly Flynn, brewer, Tripping Animals Brewery, Miami
*Image retrieved from cabecademarmore via stock.adobe.com