According to Portland brewing consultant Hans Gauger, the high-hops and high-alcohol trend grew out of four factors: First, the American craft-brewing movement originally came about as a reaction to the thin flavors of the mass-produced beers (think Coors, Miller and Budweiser) that dominate the market. Second, Americans love everything — especially their beverages — supersized; we’re a nation with a “bigger is better” mentality. Third, getting higher alcohol and more hops for the same price as a beverage that’s lower in alcohol and more subtle in flavor looks to consumers like more bang for the buck. And finally, it’s difficult to brew a clean and delicate golden or blonde ale; and the cool fermentation cycle required for lager-making is time-consuming and highly technical. For mom-and-pop craft brewers, it’s much easier to brew big, clunky English-style ales like IPAs (India Pale Ales) than it is to make something light and refreshing. “An IPA is a tsunami of sweet, citrus and floral flavor that someone raised on Coca-Cola and Gatorade can get into,” Gauger says. “There has been a gap between thin American macrobeers and the rich micros. … However, the sophistication of both the American brewer and the consumer is growing, and you will see more 4.5-percent ABV (alcohol by volume) craft lagers available.”