One of the great things about the United States is the bursting regional pride felt from all of the diverse pockets of our nation. Nowhere is this pride more evident than on our nation’s two coasts, where regional rivalry extends to everything from baseball teams to hip hop music to, yes, even beer—specifically India Pale Ales. We talked to some of the coasts’ most notable brewers to get their take on what makes their ocean’s IPA so great.
WEST COAST IPAS
Popular Brews: West Coast IPA, Green Flash Brewing Co. (Vista, Calif.); IPA, Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, Calif.); BridgePort IPA, BridgePort Brewing Co. (Portland, Ore.); India Pale Ale, Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Petaluma, Calif.); Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewery (Healdsburg, Calif.).
Taste: Often described as a pure, unapologetic celebration of hops, West Coast IPAs are very bitter, dry and not for the faint of heart or tongue. The hoppy finish brings about a variety of citrus characteristics that range from grapefruit to orange to pineapple.
Aroma: The large presence of hops is evident in this brew’s aroma. The hops give the nose of the beer a spicy aroma, often accompanied by scents of a sweet, citric fruit like grapefruit.
Color: Many West Coast IPAs are a bit cloudy, which gives them a glowing appearance. These hop-heavy brews range in color from gold to a yellowish brown, amber or even copper, and are typically topped off by a sturdy, rocky head.
Brewing Technique: Being so close to the hop crops of the Pacific Northwest, most West Coast IPAs are brewed with an overabundance of American hops like Cascade, Columbus and Centennial, typically added consistently to the brew from boiling to bottling.
Pairs With: This style works well with many seafood and sushi dishes like seared ahi tuna, sashimi and oysters, especially when they’re garnished with other flavorful items like wasabi and ginger.
EAST COAST IPAS
Popular Brews: IPA, Shipyard Brewing Co. (Portland, Maine); 60 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Del.); Hop Infusion, Weyerbacher Brewing Co. (Easton, Pa.); Hop Hog IPA, Lancaster Brewing Co. (Lancaster, Pa.); HopDevil Ale, Victory Brewing Co. (Downington, Pa.); East India Pale Ale, Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Taste: East Coast IPAs typically produce a more “natural” taste, which gives the brew a spicy, yet earthlike consistency that is often described as floral. Being that many East Coast brewers aim for more balance between their malt-to-hops ratio, the resulting taste can be less obtrusive than its West Coast counterparts’.
Aroma: Due to the balance of hops and malts, East Coast IPAs tend to have just a slightly less hoppy aroma. Instead, East Coasters radiate more nature-driven scents like floral, grass, cedar and pine. Citrus aromas, such as orange or grapefruit, are there, but their presence seems subdued.
Color: Many East Coast IPAs are darker in appearance than other pale ales due to their higher malt content and use of imported English malts. The thick composition of these malts and their residues gives this brew a murkier appearance that ranges in color from deep copper to pale amber.
Brewing Technique: East Coast IPAs actually do utilize a significant amount of hops in their brews. However, they tend to use hops with more traditional English characteristics, which provide a strong woody or cedar aroma but a less bitter taste because they are added during fermentation after the beer is cool.
Pairs With: Grilled foods like steak and salmon go especially well with East Coast IPAs. Like many other beers, this brew also pairs nicely with cheeses, particularly strong and artisanal cheeses like farmhouse cheddar. Pizza also seems to be a favorite of East Coast IPA drinkers, perhaps because of its strong ties to the region.