Photo by Beth Demmon
Considered more of a style than nod to its geographical origins, West Coast IPAs can be widely categorized as what hopheads like to call "dank" brews. With lots of piney and earthy bitterness throughout, the occasional hint of citrus (especially when Citra and/or Cascade hops are used) and relatively dry at the finish, these resinous concoctions can be a shock to the uninitiated.
These palate-crushers often blur the line between Double or Triple IPAs, but there's still generally a desire for some of the malt and/or yeast character to shine through. At the very least, it's more of a dick swing to demonstrate how West Coasters like to go big or go home.
While plenty of Midwest and East Coast breweries have latched onto this style, actual West Coast breweries like Breakside Brewery (Portland) with its Wanderlust IPA tend to produce the most exemplary examples of it. California still dominates the marketplace with offerings such as Green Flash's (San Diego) West Coast IPA (who actually trademarked the term), Russian River's (Santa Rosa) Blind Pig, Alpine Beer Co.'s (Alpine) Nelson and virtually any IPA from Stone Brewing.
For those who timidly tiptoe toward bold and bitter brews, West Coast IPAs will deliver a palate-spanking delight that you won't be able to shake once it takes hold.
Photo by Beth Demmon
Just as Tupac and Biggie pitted the East Coast vs. the West Coast, so has the regional IPA war drawn clear sides. The "New England"-inspired versions of India Pale Ales vary as much as the West Coast's do, but are generally stylistically known for a juicy, luscious mouthfeel and opaque, hazy appearance.
Traditionally, IPAs adhering to this style professed a more balanced approach, seeking a sweeter result that relies more on a malt backbone intertwined with hop accents. Over time, this has progressed into a more aromatic experience with a "chewy" body. Excellent examples of "New England style" IPAs are being brewed all over the country, including Modern Times' (San Diego) Attack Frequency, Creature Comforts Brewing Co.'s (Georgia) Tropicalia IPA and Bellís Brewery's (Michigan) Two Hearted Ale, and countless selections from Vermont's Hill Farmstead, Lawson's Finest Liquids and the Alchemist.
For those who desire to be coddled rather than crushed (or at least who enjoy a little foreplay), the sumptuous and slightly sweet ecstasies of New England style IPAs are best enjoyed fresh and with a friend.
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