The ubiquity of IPAs is something of a bugbear in the craft beer scene. The microbrew industry thrived by being oppositional to the supremacy of the golden lager, touting its ability to offer up a rainbow of flavors and colors that faded during the Industrial Revolution before being completely stamped out by Prohibition. But, by 2015, the hoppy India pale ale had captured an absurd percentage of the craft beer market.
Everywhere, it was IPA — breweries went from making a wide variety of beer styles to a dozen different IPAs. The disappointment of longtime craft beer drinkers was best summed up by Lew Bryson in All About Beer Magazine:
“For God’s sake, we changed the world! We brewed and we bought and we built a beer market that stood the old one on its head, from light lager everywhere to the possibility of stouts, bocks, lambics, pale ales, porters, altbiers, smoked beers, real ales, pilsners, imperial stouts, kölsches, kellerbiers, milds and bitters, even things we’d never heard of, like goses and grodziskies … and you use it to get 20 different kinds of IPA? I ought to kick your hop-sucking a—–, all of you.”
Did the world really need another six-pack of IPA in 2018? Especially from a brewery that can make one of the world’s most elegant saisons?
In the case of Boulevard’s Space Camper, the answer is yes.
This easy-drinking, lightly hazy and reliably fresh IPA is a beer that Kansas City needed on its grocery store shelves and on its tap handles. It’s the citrusy, crushable IPA that we’re always happy to see at a bar, restaurant, concert or ballgame.
Which is just as it was intended.
“We saw a gap in the market for something a little more citrusy in flavor, but extremely approachable,” says Natalie Gershon, Vice President of Marketing at Boulevard. “While going above and beyond in flavors has definitely become a trend, we believe that Space Camper appeals to a wide market of beer drinkers that want a beer they can rely on for any occasion.”
Space Camper was born as a test IPA for Boulevard’s beer hall and was tweaked for over a year. Inspired by the New England IPA trend, the majority of the hops are added near the end of the boil and in dry-hopping to give it a bright, juicy aroma with just a touch of bitterness. The final hop blend utilizes Equinox and Australia-bred Galaxy rather than headlining varietals like Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic.
In many other areas of the country, IPAs have come to claim the vast majority of tap handles — in the Northwest some craft beer bars advertise themselves as pouring nothing but. For better and worse, Kansas City was largely insulated from that trend. By finding a “gap” in the market, Space Camper has rapidly become one of Boulevard’s most popular beers, not only at home but abroad. The brewery has had “amazing” sales, says Gershon, “especially in cities that are known for producing great IPAs.”
“What started out as a passion project to fill what we felt was a gap in the IPA market has turned into one of our best selling beers,” says Gershon. “Consumers have been craving a juicy, approachable IPA and we are so proud that Space Camper, a beer we love so much, is filling that need.”