How the West Coast-Style IPA Conquered the World
J Thoendell stashed this in Food
Last summer, San Diego brewery Green Flash began releasing fresh batches of its signature West Coast IPA to the European market, brewed and bottled at Belgium’s historic Brasserie St. Feuillien. Meanwhile, Stone Brewing Co.—the SoCal powerhouse known for its unapologetically hoppy IPAs—announced plans to open a two-acre brewery and restaurant complex in Berlin, where it will turn out brash, aggressively bitter ales for distribution across Europe.
The signal is clear: the West-Coast IPA has gone mainstream, crushing palates not only across the U.S., but also in strongholds of old-world brewing that previously viewed American beer as an abomination of good sense and taste. These days, IPA obsessives around the world can rattle off names of hops varieties the way oenophiles and vintners geek out about grapes. But it wasn’t always this way.
The history of West Coast-style IPA—an ever-evolving style loosely defined by its bracing bitterness, intense hop aromas, and higher-than-average alcohol content—plays a critical role in the growth of craft beer in America, and the gradual embrace of increasingly in-your-face flavors. It begins with a pale ale, and an American-grown hop called Cascade.