West Coast vs East Coast IPA Styles

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by seakayak, Jun 30, 2014.

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  1. irishstoutlvr

    irishstoutlvr Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2012 North Carolina

    I would say that, too. I really enjoy the Two Hearted Ale.
    seakayak likes this.
  2. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Crusader (796) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    I quite like these new school IPAs but they all taste exactly the same, whether they're from California, Colorado, New York, Europe, New Zealand, Japan, or Papua New Guinea... ALL.THE.SAME!!! Some are drier than others but that's about it.
    seakayak likes this.
  3. sefus12

    sefus12 Aspirant (219) Sep 7, 2006 Kentucky

    This is the correct answer. Location does not limit breweries to any certain style of IPA anymore. Great IPAs can be found all over the country (hell, Ohio has two of the best I've ever had in Head Hunter and White Rajah). The real distinction is old school hops vs new school hops.
  4. marquis

    marquis Crusader (722) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this.I'm tired of beer tasting of grapefruit too , I can buy grapefruit juice for that.
    SkinniePost and seakayak like this.
  5. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (637) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    Living in Vermont, I may be biased, but to me the East Coast style is dominated by the Vermont IPAs - Heady, Double/Triple Sunshine, HF Abner, Susan, What is Enlightenment, etc... These beers are all hazy, low SRM, low flocculation, and dominated by new school hop flavors of tropical and citrus fruits. To me the West Coast styles are characterized by higher flocculating yeasts producing clear beers, highly hopped with a wide range of hops - Pliney, Sculpin, Double Jack, Sucks, etc. I totally enjoy them all (including those that remind me of grapefruit juice)!
    seakayak likes this.
  6. WelshBrewer

    WelshBrewer Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2013 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    I like Zombie Dust its neither W. or E. its just right.
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  7. BrahptimusPrime

    BrahptimusPrime Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2014 Connecticut

    I'll be trying that for the first time tonight, just got a fresh sixxer on a trade. Can't wait.
    seakayak and Hop-Droppen-Roll like this.
  8. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Zealot (579) Nov 6, 2007 California

    All of those West Coast beers you mention are filtered, so that's the difference in clarity you are seeing. There are also plenty of unfiltered, pale, new-school hop IPAs in California, just not the mainstays that get shipped across the country. This "Vermont style" is just typical of newer IPAs everywhere and people just think Vermont because there are a few hyped up breweries there doing it. There is nothing unique about those beers.
  9. Guzzle_McBrew

    Guzzle_McBrew Devotee (417) Feb 17, 2014 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    My mini beer anthropology experiment:
    I head out to CA a decent amount in light of My sister, grandmother and a couple of my best buddies living in California (SF, Santa Rosa, LA, San Diego respectively). Since I tried Pliny in 2011 I have begun trying countless IPAs on each visit.

    Most recently, my girlfriend and I went out and visited Russian River and many of the prominent San Francisco beer spots in March (2014). This last trip I was fixated on comparing what I found out west to what I have become accustomed to on the east coast.

    East Coast:
    Beers from Tree House and New England Brewing are almost always on the menu 'round here, plus regular mix ins of Hill Farmstead, Trillium, Lawson's Finest, The Alchemist. Generally speaking, all of these breweries offer some if not many hoppy offerings which tend to gravitate towards being really light in color with simple malt profiles to allow for some serious hop flavor. Nearly all are opaque, and somewhere between 3 and 6 SRM (or between nearly blonde and mango colored). Many of them have strong and uncontested fruit flavors like Grapefruit as mentioned here, and Mango.
    The hop flavor seems to be based on late edition kettle/whirlpool hop additions leaving them smooth and aromatic, not bitter like many old school IPAs (probably dating back to EIPA using bittering to keep the beer flavor intact on long voyages.) Most of these IPAs tend to have very little caramel malt presence in taste or color and are usually dry and crisp. As I am speaking generally, YMMV with beers from any of these establishments- they all have catalogs which may step outside the general bounds I am describing here (Most recently I found Lawson's Ava to taste very similar to what I am used to out west).

    I think that this style is different from the traditional East Coast or West Coast Style, and more similar to the West Coast style. I think the way people use the description "East Coast style" has more to do with an older tradition of a long bittering in the kettle and then a lot of strong caramel malts to balance out the bitterness. Not much hop aroma or character except for bitterness, lots of malt to balance said bitterness.

    West Coast:
    On the west coast I found much more caramel malt presence in taste and color throughout the IPAs I have had (from Drakes, Deschutes, Russian River, Kern River, Ballast Point, Stone, Ninkasi plus a many of shelf beers that are perhaps a bit less notable). The IPAs seemed to fall between 9 and 22 SRM or Gold bordering Amber to a deep Amber hue. Most have some notable hop aroma, but in many cases the hop nose is working it's way through that "firm west coast malt backbone" I always read about in descriptions. This goes for a standard shelf beer for the most part, most of the more illusive finds seem to be a bit different.
    Noble Aleworks and Alpine seem to have a generally more 2 Row/ Pale Malt style. Cellermakers in SF seems to also be doing some more simple malt, heavy hop type brews as well - Their stuff is BADASS. Golden Road as well, to a lesser extent. These west coast IPA champions are by far the closest thing's to what I am used to here in the East.

    Kern River Double Citra, a West Coast grail, seems a good example of a style distinction for the most part. I found it to have a lot of caramel malt for body, perhaps to offset some bitterness. There are certainly Citra hop characteristics to this beer, but it is exceedingly different from, say, Hill Farmstead Double Citra which to me tastes much more fruity and dry.

    My Thesis:
    Geography is only slightly and generally relevant to style- the era the beers came out in and the type of shop they came from is a bigger driver for style.

    I agree with the statement about VT definitely not being the only place, and it being a new style. Interested in what new style West Coast IPAs you would recommend...

    TL/DR, I know, I know.
    visualmartyr and seakayak like this.
  10. FFreak

    FFreak Defender (637) Nov 10, 2013 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    What are some examples of this style being produced and distributed outside of Vermont? I'd love to try some of them. Are there any distributed nationally?
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  11. Guzzle_McBrew

    Guzzle_McBrew Devotee (417) Feb 17, 2014 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    New England Brewing, Tree House, Toppling Goliath, and New Glarus all come to mind.
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  12. jayrutgers

    jayrutgers Aspirant (223) Oct 29, 2011 New Jersey

    People are going way too beer geek with this topic.

    East Coast: 90 Minute. Big hops and big malt. Descendant of the English Style of IPA. The new Vermont IPAs are NOT of the 'East Coast' style.

    West Coast: Stone IPA. Hops and hops and hops. There is malt but it is not to the level in terms of being a part of the flavor profile as compared to 90 Minute or Latitude 48 or Brooklyn East India Pale Ale. New style of beer that some have discussed should have been named its own thing, not really descendant of the English Style.

    That's it. Simple as that. Now there's no difference as everyone makes everything everywhere now.
    #52 jayrutgers, Jul 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  13. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    what do you taste in your cask beer in England?
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  14. JimKal

    JimKal Devotee (476) Jul 31, 2011 North Carolina

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  15. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    I agree with every word in your response. Although I'd place Lawson's & Heady where you placed Pliny & Blind Pig.

    No right or wrong. Just personal preference.
    seakayak likes this.
  16. marquis

    marquis Crusader (722) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Grapefruit if it's one of the new style ones.Layer upon layer of interwoven nuances in well constructed ones.
    Not all hops taste of grapefruit so I'm OK when brewers use hops which taste of -er- hops.
    seakayak likes this.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,975) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    There is quite a bit of difference in IPAs depending on the hops used. Some IPAs are citrus forward (e.g., Bells Two Hearted), some IPAs are tropical fruit forward (e.g., Citra hopped IPAs) and some are combinations of flavors such as citrus & piney (e.g., Alpine Duet).

    There seems to be more and more newer IPAs that have a fair amount of dankness to them.

    So, depending on the hop varieties used and how they are used you will obtain very different flavor profiles in IPA beers.

  18. bryreeves

    bryreeves Initiate (0) Oct 25, 2012 Massachusetts

    You've got to drink the East and West Coast IPAs at the proper altitude to get the full effect... THEN you can decide... :wink:
    seakayak likes this.
  19. Hdredfern

    Hdredfern Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2012 Texas

    But those Gulf Of Mexico IPAs though...
    seakayak likes this.
  20. EveningCordial

    EveningCordial Disciple (381) Apr 29, 2014 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    There's no difference. It's dead and seems to only open the door for biased commentary.
    seakayak, turbotype and Hoppsbabo like this.
  21. lic217

    lic217 Champion (811) Aug 10, 2010 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    I have not had many beers and all of the following is based off of the beers I have had the pleasure to drink.

    Its really hard for me to compare, because I have had pliny and only the other IPAs that are sold in the north east from the west coast. I am missing out on a lot of the best west coast beers (and some are not that fresh when they arrive). I am then comparing these to the super fresh awesome growlers that I pick up from treehouse, trillium, and NEBCO.

    Its not fair for me to compare these small, limited, fresh batches that need to be picked up to an IPA that has been produced in monster volumes and sent across country (like double jack, ruination, etc). I cannot walk into a CT package store and find a beer as good as Pliny. G-Bot and Lunch are close (as is Mo although not an IPA) to Pliny, but not as good. the three previously mention beers are not seen often. I see lunch, G-bot, and Mo a few times a year each. However, Gbot is available for growlers.

    In order to get Pliny level beers on the east coast, I have to go to a brewery. also these breweries do not always have a beer as good as pliny. Some examples of the IPAs on the east coast that are as good or better then Pliny IMO:

    Edward, Double Sunshine, Abner, HF Double Citra, Heady (all these are a 4 hour trips from CT)

    Congress st (2 hours)

    Kittens and Canoes, Coriolis, Fuzzy baby ducks, and Julius (at least a 40 minute drive)

    Most of the above are expensive, most are extremely rare, most require a long wait time at the brewery, and because they are growlers they need to be enjoyed within a week or so.

    9 out of 10 (estimation) of the best IPAs that I have had come from the east (pliny being the one from the west), but I drink 10 times as much east coast beer and can get growlers for the above mentioned places (which are most of the great beers that I have had). I have had quite a few growlers of beer as good or a little better then pliny. The only 2 IPAs that are bottled and canned that have been better then Pliny are Heady and Double Sunshine, which are not easy to come by.

    I guess my end point is: Drink what is freshest near you, because that is what will be best. NEBCO is the easiest for me, so I enjoy there beers a lot.
  22. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Crusader (796) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Ultimately they all smack of citrusy fruit and therein lies the homogeneity.
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  23. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Savant (990) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    When someone says "west coast IPA", I think citrusy, piney, and juicy. I'm on the west coast, so I'm biased, but beers I think are characteristic are:

    Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
    Lagunitas Sucks
    Firestone Walker Union Jack
    Alpine Nelson

    Obviously tons of great IPA's on the west coast, but to me, those represent the style best and are reasonably accessible.
    seakayak likes this.
  24. upsbeernut

    upsbeernut Disciple (303) Sep 22, 2011 Georgia

    Sipping on Westbrook IPA and would put it up against one of the west coast ones. NOT! The west is the best hands down maybe a new post would be beer versus beer. Although I am enjoying its gulping smoothness.
    seakayak likes this.
  25. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (2,618) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Tropical and dank seem to be more and more popular. My biggest complaint, if you can call it that, with NG Scream IIPA was that it tasted so much like many of the new, big DIPAs on the market: awash with juicy, tropical fruit, kind of syrupy on the feel.

    I think every time a new successful hop breed is put out there, there seems to be a rush by many brewers to grab it up - often in a single-hop brew, which while it serves to highlight the hop profile, also lessons the uniqueness of the individual beer (and perhaps familiarity does breed contempt).

    Still, as you mentioned, there are plenty of (D)IPAs out there with profiles dominated by citrus, pine resin, and everything and anything in between. And none of it has anything to do with where it's made. :slight_smile:

    seakayak and JackHorzempa like this.
  26. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (2,618) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Kittens and Canoes is neither expensive nor requires a long wait at the brewery. Then again, there aren't many people outside of SE CT who have heard of Beer'd, so it's pretty easy for us locals to get our fill. And I agree: they make some fantastic IPAs and DIPAs there.

    I would drink G-Bot a lot more often if it wasn't an hour drive to the brewery, and if we got more than like a case in our zip code once a month. :angry:
    lic217, richobrien and seakayak like this.
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,975) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Citra hopped IPAs do not taste citrusy to me.

    Perhaps you have a different palate then I do.

    SenorHops and seakayak like this.
  28. BigJohnShow

    BigJohnShow Initiate (0) Jun 29, 2014 California

    Glad I'm from the West Coast...the Hoppier the better! After all we have the Hoppiest Place on Earth!
    seakayak likes this.
  29. SenorHops

    SenorHops Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2010 Rhode Island

    There was a time where there seemed to be a clear difference, but the lines have blurred. Both coasts now boast some magnificent, hoppy IPAs.
  30. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,970) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Yeah, but it doesn't exactly go both ways.

    When you catch 90 Min at its best and freshest, it straddles the best of both worlds beautifully. The citrusy/resiny hops played against the old-world malt and yeast profiles, it's a thing of harmonious beauty. Even when it gets older, after a month or so, it's a very fine English IPA, due to the ingredients as well as the way it's constructed.

    I seriously doubt the west coast does or could produce something like that.
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  31. turbotype

    turbotype Aspirant (277) Nov 5, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Quoted for truth. East coast vs. West coast may have been a thing in the past, but lately it's a moot point. Drink what you like and forget the rest. :wink:
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  32. thomda11

    thomda11 Aspirant (272) Jun 5, 2014 California

    Alesmith IPA comes pretty damn close. Just had it last night and had to buy some 90 min today to get a closer comparison. 90 min has always been my favorite IPA.
    seakayak likes this.
  33. FoamInnovation

    FoamInnovation Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2013 Washington

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  34. Guzzle_McBrew

    Guzzle_McBrew Devotee (417) Feb 17, 2014 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Thanks guys.

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  35. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,191) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    If you had to describe the taste of hops, as opposed to hops that don't taste like hops, how would you describe hops that do taste like hops?
    Roguer, seakayak, JimKal and 2 others like this.
  36. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Initiate (0) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Drink a Dogfish Head 60 Minute and a Stone IPA. Those are the quintessential East and West Coast IPAs. In my mind, that should give you some perspective of what is being talked about.

    Two Hearted is Third Coast. We here on the Third Coast sit back and laugh while the East and West argue about who is better knowing that the argument is pointless because it is really us who have it best.
  37. richobrien

    richobrien Devotee (447) Dec 29, 2013 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    I love them all. My only preference is that they are fresh.

    I have Heady, Pliny, Gandhi Bot, Nelson, Swami's, Pseudo, Julius, Hop Drop n Roll and Zombie Dust (yes I know) in my beer cave right now. Forecast: Hoppy with chances of deliciousness!!
  38. SoCalBeerIdiot

    SoCalBeerIdiot Defender (622) Mar 10, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    REALLY?!? Why is that? Are East Coast brewers supposedly better or something? TongoRad, I'm disappointed in you for that one.:confused:
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  39. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,970) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Ugh- drunk post there and I went a bit too far I guess. It was just supposed to be a bit of playful banter. Sorry about that.

    ETA- and thanks for giving me that chance to clear that up.
    #79 TongoRad, Jul 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
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  40. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,191) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Gotta admit that I purely love Two Hearted now we get it here. Y'all have Zombie Dust too, which I also love. But...

    Take a little tip from a guy who lives in the real best IPA area in the Country. Learn to use more than one hop at a time, honest, it works. :wink::slight_smile:
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