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WWBG: Favorite West Coast IPAs

By BethesdaNow.com

Friday - 10/19/2012, 3:30pm  ET

Editor’s Note: This new weekly sponsored column is written by the staff of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

You might have noticed that West Coast IPAs seem to be dominating your local beer shop’s shelves lately. Why not just stick with IPAs that originate closer to home, you ask? Believe it or not, there are distinct differences in style between East Coast-brewed IPAs and their West Coast counterparts.

East Coast IPAs tend to have a stronger malt presence and more balanced approach to the intensity of hops, whereas West Coast IPAs tend to be overloaded with fresh Northwest Hops that give a citrus-y, piney taste with a smooth, dry finish. West Coast IPAs have a great refreshing taste that’s a little less filling due to a reduced malt and residual sugar presence compared to East Coast IPAs.

Even with the higher cost associated with West Coast IPAs we are selling more IPAs from our west coast friends than ever before. California, Oregon and Washington have a total of 623 breweries, this makes up 27% of all breweries in the United States

The West Coast IPA emergence over the past 15 years is in direct correlation with the contemporary American beer drinker’s palate, which loves overly hopped beers that smack sensations most other beers simply don’t. In a recent poll by the American Homebrewers Association, readers were asked to rank their 20 favorite beers. Out of the top ten, seven of the beers were from the west coast and nine out of ten were unique IPAs, with one lone stout.

Here are some of my favorite West Coast IPAs.

Stone IPA — San Diego, California

One of the best-selling and best-tasting IPAs we offer. This is your typical hoppy “West Coast IPA”. At just under 7% a.b.v., Stone has ample hop aroma, tons of flavor, and bitterness throughout, with a nice, smooth, dry finish. Stone uses a process called “dry-hopping” for this IPA, which results in a burst of aroma and flavor. Stone IPA received a score of 100 on ratebeer.com and a score of 99 from the Beer Advocate

Lagunitas IPA — Petaluma, California

This good-looking golden brew is California’s top-selling IPA. Lagunitas is moderately bitter and not overly hoppy, which gives it a beautiful, balanced bitter-to-fruit ratio. Flavors include grapefruit and lemon, and it finishes with a nice piney, dry taste. With an a.b.v of 6.2%, Lagunitas is a great IPA that exemplifies the West Coast approach. Lagunitas IPA received a score of 94 on ratebeer.com and a score of 87 from the Beer Advocate.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA — Healdsburg, California

Easily my favorite IPA that we carry, this next-generation IPA is extremely impressive. Bear Republic drinks extremely easy, but hits you with the bitterness you expect from an IPA. The finish is one-of-a-kind with a creamy, citrus feel that quenches your thirst and leaves you wanting more. With an a.b.v right at 7%, I highly recommend this IPA for any palette or occasion. Racer 5 IPA received a score of 99 on ratebeer.com and a score of 94 from the Beer Advocate.

Green Flash Brewing Co West Coast IPA — San Diego, California

I cannot confirm that Green Flash came up with the term “West Coast IPA,” but this beer is the exact definition of the west coast style. At 7.3% this beer contains tons of orange and grapefruit flavor with a perfectly hopped taste from start to finish that still finishes dry and smooth. It also has a touch of sweetness that balances this beer to perfection. Green Flash West Coast IPA received a score of 99 on ratebeer.com and a score of 100 from the Beer Advocate.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

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