What is the difference between a West Coast IPA and a Mid West IPA?

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Answered by: Trevor, An Expert in the Beer and Brew Reviews Category
India Pale Ales(IPAs) take on different characteristics depending on the style and region that they are brewed in. There are a variety of differences in IPA style beers,including Belgian IPA's and English style IPA's. However, the most popular IPAs are made in America and are brewed in two distinct styles: west coast IPA or mid west IPA.

West Coast IPAs

West coast style IPAs focus on hops. And a lot of it. West coast IPA brewers are infamously known for jamming as much hops into their IPA's as possible. Traditionally in brewing, you want the malt flavor and the hop flavor to work together so that one does not overpower the other. However, in west coast IPAs, this is not the case. Hops are the star of the show and little to no malt character is usually present. West coast IPAs utilize ingredients grown right out their back door. Yakima, Washington is known as hop central and many varieties of hops that are used in west coast brewing grow from there.

The hop profile in West Coast IPAs vary. Each brewer has a different idea of what hop varieties they want to showcase in their beers and what flavors they are trying to achieve. For example, if the brewer is looking to create a beer with grapefruit flavors in mind, then you can expect a lot of Amarillo hops.

West coast IPAs were developed as a response to the growing number of requests for bigger, bolder and hoppier IPAs. West coast brewers were more than happy to oblige and even went so far as to create a completely new style of beer: the double IPA. Double IPAs are still IPAs, however they are fairly alcoholic (9-17% ABV) and much more aggressively hopped.

A prime example of a west coast IPA is the Boneyard Brewing RPM IPA. This IPA features everything that a west coast IPA is: bold hop bitterness with just a hint of pine and easy drinkability. A lovely American IPA that everybody should try at least once.

Mid West IPAs

Mid west style IPAs focus on creating more of a balanced flavor profile. Hops are still the main focus of these beers, however a distinct malt sweetness can be detected. When considering double IPAs, this rule still holds true. The hop character will typically always be matched by the maltiness. Mid west IPAs have to gather their ingredients elsewhere. Typically, they either have their hops shipped from the west coast or they seek other, exotic varieties from Europe.

Hop profiles in midwest IPAs differ as well. You'll find that either one or two hop varietals are incorporated into the beer and that they usually feature floral or fruity characters. A popular hop that has just seen use on the market is the Galaxy hop, which has the distinct flavor of passion fruit.

An outstanding example of a mid west IPA is the Maharaja by Avery Brewing. This IPA features absolute bold hoppiness with a huge malt background. The malt sweetness balances out and eventually overpowers the hops in this beer. Flavors of pineapple, pine, and floral hop bitterness showcase what an American IPA from the mid west is all about.

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