Piney, resinous bitterness and a big malt character – what’s not to love about a West Coast IPA? This is what made us fall in love with IPAs and we’re stoked to see a bunch of fresh releases come out, giving us massive throwback thirst-day vibes. So just what wizardry happens to conjure up those big, dank flavours? Unsurprisingly, hops.
Hops come in an array of flavours, aromas and range of bitterness. But when we think about the characters in a WCIPA, it’s straight to those old school high alpha acid bittering hops like Simcoe, Citra, Chinook and Columbus.
Alpha acids are what imparts bitterness into the beers you drink. These alpha acids are chemical compounds inside the hop cone that interact with wort (unfermented beer) in the boil. The longer they boil, the more bitterness is imparted into the beer through a process called isomerization.
This gives the beer that big, bitter backbone we’ve come to love. Throw in a few aromatic hops at the end of the boil for those floral and fruity notes and you’ve got a damn delicious, beautifully balanced brew.
There’s a great variety of West Coast IPAs our Hop Quest December 2022 box. If you’re relatively new to the wide world of IPAs, enjoy exploring this classic style. For long-time IPA enthusiasts, enjoy the trip down memory lane!