What is a West Coast IPA?

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Whenever you reach for an IPA, you expect to be hit with some powerful hop flavor. An array of hops are used when creating different IPAs across the world. The west coast is known as the source of the IPA surge the United States has seen over the past few decades. Today we answer the question, what makes that IPA specifically a West Coast IPA.

West Coast IPAs are defined by their bitterness, extreme hop aromas, and high ABV content. The concept of the West Coast IPA, as we know it, was first created by Anchor Brewing Co in San Francisco. Anchor’s brewmaster and owner Fritz Maytag, who purchased Anchor in 1965, wanted to bring back the British dry hop process and bitterness to beer that had gone by the wayside for years. A friend of Maytag’s, a hop farmer, suggested he introduce the Cascade hop into his brew. Cascade, a new Oregon based hop just introduced in the early 1970s, was added to Maytag’s brew kettle. These hops, mixed with the dry hopping process, turned into Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale, a beer still made by Anchor and available year round.

Shortly thereafter, in 1980, Sierra Nevada brewer Ken Grossman, used only whole cone American hops, including Cascade, and created what was at the time one of the hoppiest beers in the states, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

The increase in hops continued from there, leading to the line of the double and triple IPAs many of us enjoy today. Next time you enjoy a high IBU brew, give a nod to Fritz Maytag and San Francisco’s own Anchor Brewing Co.