IPA Alternatives That Aren’t Sours Or Stouts

We’ve all been there. Yes, I’m talking about the beer rut. The beer rut is when you find yourself buying the same type of beer over and over and over, ad infinitum. If you’re anything like my friends (and if you’re reading this, there’s a 70% chance I know  you), then you stick to IPAs, blondes and stouts.

IPAs, sours and stouts.

Hey, guess what, you: there are so many other options! I myself have had to climb out of the beer rut and find a new beer groove to walk until that too has become a rut. But the key here is to try something new, expand your horizons.

For all of you who only order IPAs, sours and stouts – read on.


Sour drinkers, you will think one of two things:

  1. This is cheating, they’re practically the same.
  2. Ok.

Pick the second one here. I did a whole thing about goses, so if you need proof that they’re different than sours, I suggest a quick education.

Sure, goses might be similar to sours. But they’re also quite different; the salty notes in most goses are enough to set it apart from sours. Also, goses tend to capture fruity notes in a different way than sours do.

So, sour drinkers, try some goses. If you say to yourself “I can’t find them,” then look pretty much anywhere. It is almost summer, after all.

Blonde ale

IPA, or India pale ale, has the word “ale” in it. So does blonde ale. Here’s the difference.

Blonde ales are basically America’s way of saying, “oh, I liked that Kolsh I had. Let me take it and make it American.” That’s mostly a joke, but I’m sure there’s some truth in it.

The main difference between a blonde ale and an IPA is everything. Blondes tend to be malt-forward where IPAs stick to the hops, bringing out a hoppy flavor (shocker). Also, blondes generally have a lower ABV than most IPAs, hitting in the 5% range vs a 6-7% range. You’re also going to get some bitterness in a blonde, but not as much as you would an IPA.

You might find that a blonde ale complements the heat better than an IPA, sour or stout because it is almost summer, after all.


The only beer style missing from this page so far is the lager. I love lagers, if not indicated by a lager week I did at some point last year.

Unfortunately, lagers don’t get enough love. Not only are they usually significantly harder to brew than, say, an IPA, but they also tend to have a less in-your-face flavor profile, making many beer drinkers shy away.

I’m here to say that if you take away anything from this article, it’s that you should drink more lagers.

Red ale

Is it unfair that I include a type of ale on this list? I say it isn’t. Here’s my reasoning.

Have you ever had a red ale? They’re malty. Have you ever had an IPA? They’re hoppy.

Hoppy. Malty. They’re basically the beer version of running and walking. You can do one and you can do the other, but you can’t do both. Some beers will mix the two together and say they do both, but you basically end up with this.

My point is that red ales are generally much maltier than other types of beer, and that makes them fairly unique. I will also be the first person to admit that most red ales don’t quite hit the mark – however, it’s worth trying a few to find out if they’re your jam.

Pale ale

Yup, pale ale. I know that the difference between an India pale ale and pale ale is India (apparently), but they have so much in not common…or uncommon. You know, they’re different – and I would know, I’m drinking one right now.

Because there’s technically no way to differentiate an IPA from a pale ale, it feels like brewers are intentionally making pale ales softer while IPAs get heftier. The result is often a clean, refreshing beer, something that won’t make you say, “wow, so hoppy!” or, “wow, so hazy!”

Pales ales are basically an oldie but goodie.

The final words

You might be thinking, “Thomas, you provided no alternatives to stouts.” Yes, I did – I provided five of them. No, none of them are heavy like stouts because, for the third time, it is almost summer, after all. Stouts, as good as they are, are the last thing I want when I come home sunburnt with sweaty skin.

I obviously want something salty, like a gose.

Thomas Short
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