Not that long ago West Coast IPAs were all the rage. In fact, you could argue that the power of these hop-driven, often piney beers helped launch the craft beer industry on its current trajectory. Then along came an East Coast beer to ignite a new West Coast/East Coast rivalry akin to Biggie Smalls asking ‘Pac “who shot ya?”
Memes aside, the West Coast/East Coast beer division is legit. These beers may be cut from the same cloth but have very little in common. Yes, they’re both malts, water, yeast, and hops combined in a specific ale-orientated order. But the flavors and look of these beers can be massively divergent, even though they’re both technically “India Pale Ales.”
As with all things, personal preference does not equate to higher-quality or something being somehow “better.” It comes down to taste, palate, nostalgia, and what’s new now. We all have our go-to beers but are also easily enticed when a new sip comes along with an exciting look and feel. So, let’s dive into what makes New England IPAs stand out, not above, the classic West Coast IPA.