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What is a West Coast IPA? Hazy IPA Styles Explained

Hazy IPAs were seen as a trend not long ago with little expectation of the cloudy fan favorite to be anything but a memory. Now, hazy IPAs are their own specific category of beer. When you actually have a hazy IPA for the first time it starts to make a little more sense. Known for their cloudiness, deliciously fruity taste, and butter-smooth mouthfeel, hazy IPAs have become a mainstay on many bar and restaurant beer lists. 

West coast IPAs, on the other hand, emerged before hazy IPAs. Many craft beer enthusiasts lean towards this type of IPA over a hazy IPA. For a restaurant or bar owner that’s not completely familiar with these types of beer, it can get confusing fast. We’ll go over what a west coast IPA is, different types of IPAs, and why you should incorporate these types of IPAs into your menu.

What Classifies a West Coast IPA?

West coast IPAs have moved around in popularity but remain a staple on many bar lists. 

  • Style. West coast IPAs are unforgivingly hoppy and bitter, some attributing this style to being an acquired taste. Hops are added after the boil when the beer is still hot, which is where the bitter flavors come in.
  • Origin. As the name suggests, west coast IPAs are from the west coast. The Bay area to be specific is where we saw the emergence of west coast IPAs. We’ll get more into the history of this later.
  • ABV. The average ABV of a west coast IPA will run you around 7-8%. 

Tasting Notes Traditionally found in West Coast IPAs

West coast IPAs are known for their bitterness and intense hoppiness, but these beers have some wonderful complexity to them that’s often forgotten about. Pine and citrus are common notes as well as tropical and tart fruits. 

West Coast IPA vs Hazy IPA vs American IPA vs New England Hazy IPA

There are a lot of different IPAs out there. So what differentiates a west coast IPA from a hazy IPA? Let’s take a look at the prominent characteristics of each. 

  • West Coast IPA. Bold, hoppy, and citrus-forward with 7-8% ABV. Brewed English style with American hops. Substyle of American IPAs.
  • Hazy IPA. Has tropical fruit notes, smooth, and creamy with 6.5-7.5% ABV. Less bitter than a west coast IPA. Has distinct cloudiness from adding oats or other grains into the mix.
  • American IPA. West coast IPAs use almost double the hops American IPAs use with an ABV of around 6.5 - 7.5%. Tend to have more floral flavors than west coast IPAs, but the citrus and pine notes remain. West coast IPAs are actually a subcategory of American IPAs.
  • New England IPA. This is essentially another name for hazy IPAs. New England IPAs are said to have a slightly fuller body whereas hazy IPAs are a touch drier, but this is argued about within the craft beer community.

The History of West Coast IPAs

West coast IPAs started in the Bay area of California. San Francisco in particular started the journey of popularizing it in the 1960s through Anchor brewery. With English-style brewing and American hops, the west coast IPA was born. Fritz Maytag, the owner of Anchor brewery, brought an old, nearly forgotten brewing method back to life from England using Oregonian hops. He used a cultivar of hops called “cascade”, the most popularly grown type of hops in the United States until 2018. Maytag had learned that the English would add hops after the boil to the beer as it was aging, allowing the aromatics of the hops to incorporate. This would lead to the west coast IPA we know and love today.

Why it’s Important to Carry Some Type of Hazy IPA or West Coast IPA

Both west coast and hazy IPAs are sought after with hazy IPAs becoming more popular in recent years. It’s considered a staple to have on your beer list due to its interest. You’d be losing out on valuable customers and profits if you didn’t incorporate at least one of these IPAs. It’s still beneficial to have one of each, though, as each appeal to a different audience.

IPA Trends in the Beer Market Currently

West coast IPAs were on a slow decline for a few years with the emergence of the hazy IPA, but within the past couple of years, west coast IPAs are making a comeback. Having one of each will keep your menu fresh and relevant to both newcomers to craft beer and craft beer enthusiasts alike. The fruit-forward ultra-smooth flavor of a hazy IPA and the bold, complex flavor of a west coast IPA will give you balance in your beer list.

How Provi Can Help Track Inventory For Your New IPA Styles

Provi’s inventory tracking system for bars and restaurants can help you see trends in your beer sales. You’ll be able to easily access information that can help you decide if the beers on your menu are profitable or if you need to switch them up. Conveniently, Provi also has an integrated ordering system that can help you choose your next big hit. With thousands of options from your favorite brands, you can use a variety of payment options to restock or shop around for your inventory. If you want to stop juggling apps, try Provi’s free all-in-one inventory tracking and ordering service today. Your first order could be completed in as little as 5 minutes!

Ryan Philemon


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