West Coast IPAs: What are they?

West Coast IPAs: What are they?

It can be confusing to keep up with the different types of craft beer. Some style names don not exactly help beer drinkers understand what they are all about. What exactly is a West Coast India Pale Ale?


What is a West Coast IPA?

West Coast IPAs have potent hop aromas with high bitterness. They are brewed with an increased number of (usually American) hops, such as Chinook, Simcoe or Amraillo, that have high alpha acid content to increase the bitterness. The West Coast IPA is a sub-style of the American IPA and retains a more subtle malt profile with more hop notes and bitterness.


The West Coast IPA takes inspiration from the American India Pale Ale. Truthfully, they don’t have too many distinguishable differences. The American IPA is the overall style of beer – West Coast IPAs are considered a substyle to the American IPA. West Coast IPAs are bitter with an intense hop profile and a low malt profile. American IPAs are bitter with high hop intensity but can include more malt notes in the aroma and taste. This means that American IPAs can have more of a bready, toasty taste compared to West Coast IPAs.


It’s all about the hops


If you are just getting into craft beer, the types of hops and their names aren’t so important. If you are interested in learning more about craft beer, it might be wise to remember some hop varieties and their uses so that the next time you see “Chinook hops” in the beer description, you know what you are getting.


Despite the recent rise of Hazy or Juicy IPAs, this sticky, dank, and resinous beer style that is the West Coast IPA, and its American hops is holding its own and it is not going anywhere.



Some of the best and most commonly used hops for West Coast IPAs are high in alpha acid content, including:

  • Chinook
  • Simcoe
  • Columbus
  • Amarillo
  • Magnum
  • Warrior


West Coast IPAs that we offer

We have brought in two West Coast IPAs from BrewDog in Ellon, Scotland. Each of them highlight the style well and is delicious in their own right.


Brewdog Vs Buxton - Way Out West

Way Out West is a collaboration between BrewDog and Buxton Brewery from England. It is bitter, dry, and viciously hoppy. It has notes of pineapple, lychee, passionfruit and cantaloupe to balance its hefty bitterness.


Puppet Master

Puppet Master is a piney citrus concoction of hop bitterness. It uses Columbus, Citra, Azacca, and Simcoe hops for both bitterness and aroma. A true West Coast IPA, this dank and resinous beer is balanced by grapefruit and citrus notes. It contains a subtle malt profile for additional harmony.


Let’s recap – West Coast IPAs compared to American IPAs

Are you following so far? West Coasts IPAs are bitter and hoppy with a low malt profile. Most of the flavor and aroma come from the hops used. Let’s sum this up to make it easier to understand.


West Coast IPAs

  • Very bitter
  • Very high hop intensity
  • Low malt taste and aroma
  • Crisp taste
  • Medium-clear body

American IPAs

  • Bitter
  • High to very high hop intensity
  • Low to medium malt taste and aroma
  • Crisp taste
  • Clear body
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