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Craft Beer Experts Shout Out The West Coast IPAs They Keep Going Back To

When someone imagines the classic “IPA” taste, they’re likely envisioning a West Coast IPA. The style is known for its heavily — sometimes ridiculously — hopped beers. Commonly brewed with Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, Citra, and Chinook hops, these bold brews are typified by bright citrus and dank pine notes, along with varying degrees of hop bitterness. For context, even the least bitter West Coast IPA is likely more aggressively bitter than your favorite hazy, juicy New England-style IPA.

The tendency toward abrasively dank hop flavors is a big part of why the IPA is so divisive to beer fans (the amount of coverage given to these beers is also part of the issue). Still, as long as drinkers who love West Coast IPAs keep buying them, brewers aren’t likely to stop making them. To uncover some of the best options on the market, we asked a handful of notable brewers, brewing professionals, and craft beer experts for help.

Keep scrolling to see the one West Coast IPA beer pros keep coming back to.

Wicked Weed Pernicious

Wicked Weed Pernicious
Wicked Weed

Eric Warner, brewmaster at Karbach Brewing Co. in Houston

ABV: 7.3%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Pernicious, or “Perni,” from Wicked Weed is a great West Coast IPA. It has incredibly complex aromas of citrus, pine, tropical fruit, and even some herbal and dank notes that are all masterfully balanced. Perni has good foundational bitterness but doesn’t finish overly dry.

Thankfully, this beer is now available up and down the East Coast and greater South. Get you some.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Sierra Nevada

Cooper Asay, head of quality at BrewDog USA in Columbus, Ohio

ABV: 7.2%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Torpedo from Sierra Nevada is classic, consistent, and delicious. This 7.2 percent ABV “Extra IPA” is brewed with Crystal, Citra, and Magnum hops. The result is pine-filled, herbal, floral, slightly bitter IPA that I go back to again and again.

Oliphant Dracula Weed

Oliphant Dracula Weed
Oliphant

Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone® and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin

ABV: 6%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Oliphant Brewing’s Dracula Weed West Coast Style IPA is my West Coast must-have. It’s brewed with your traditional piney and resiny Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe hops, but the addition of the Warrior hops gives it a soft grapefruit and sweetened basil flavor that rides the balanced caramel malt wave of the beer. It’s a craft beer with body and yet only six percent ABV, so it’s quite easy to have a couple at a time.

Breakside IPA

Breakside IPA
Breakside

Joe Connolly, director of Springdale Beer Co. in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 6.2%

Average Price: $6 for a 22-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

Breakside in Oregon makes some of the best IPAs I’ve had in the last year. Their flagship IPA on draft at their pub was a revelation. Just huge flavors of pine and resin with this special kind of candied citrus character that I love. It’s in your face, but accessible and still inviting the next sip.

Half Acre Bodem

Half Acre Bodem
Half Acre

Kelly Laut, brewer at Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $13 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Bodem by Half Acre is a solid IPA. They use a variety of hops, which give it a tropical/melon aroma while not overshadowing the malty biscuity notes. It’s important to me to be able to taste the base beer under all the hops. To that avail, it’s clean.

After drinking one, I’m already looking forward to the next.

Ghost Town Power Nap

Ghost Town Power Nap
Ghost Town

John “Magic” Montes De Oca, co-head brewer at Barebottle Brewing Company in San Francisco

ABV: 6.9%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Ghost Town is making some of the best new-age West Coast IPAs in the country. Power Nap is a great example of balancing fruit-forward and dank hops. To borrow an analogy from music, the hops fill out every frequency. You have darkness, citrus, and tropical fruit with a resinous mouthfeel and dialed in bitterness.

The malt is clean and never gets in the way. Mosaic, Citra, and Enigma aren’t only for hazy beers.

Ballast Point Sculpin

Ballast Point Sculpin
Ballast Point

Luis G. Brignoni, founder of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $14 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company is an iconic West Coast IPA. It has bright citrus and piney hop flavors yet it’s well balanced. Clocking in at seven percent ABV and 70 IBUs, Sculpin is a full-bodied, full-flavored beer and even has grapefruit and habanero versions.

Comrade Superpower

Comrade Superpower
Comrade

Jordan Fink, owner and director of brewing operations at Woods Boss Brewing Co. in Denver

ABV: 7.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

This is just one of the most balanced West Coast IPAs you can find just about anywhere. It has pine, grapefruit, and citrus but with a mellow malt profile that complements the whole beer. You can crush this beer all day.

Russian River Blind Pig

Russian River Blind Pig
Russian River

Dave Lopez, co-managing partner at Gun Hill Brewing in Bronx, New York

ABV: 6.25%

Average Price: $8 for a 510ml bottle

Why This Beer?

There are just so many things I enjoy about this beer. For starters, the ABV (6.25 percent), is the perfect sweet spot to be able to enjoy more than one. The beer is a fantastic blend of citrus and pine flavors that do not overpower your palate. Full-bodied and very hoppy, the beer has that dry, bitter finish that you want in a West Coast IPA.

Cannonball Creek Mindbender

Cannonball Creek Mindbender
Cannonball Creek

Alex Paine, sales manager at WeldWerks Brewing Co. in Greeley, Colorado

ABV: 7.2%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Give me pretty much any IPA that Cannonball Creek Brewing Company makes and I’ll be a happy man. But every time I am at the brewery I am ordering at least one Mindbender. It has big notes of grapefruit with the perfect amount of piney bitterness.

Writer’s Pick: Laurelwood Workhorse

Laurelwood Workhorse
Laurelwood

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

While many drinkers first look to California to get their West Coast IPA fill, we like to turn out attention to Oregon-produced IPAs. One of the best under-the-radar West Coast IPAs is Laurelwood Workhorse. Hopped in the kettle using a hop-back and then dry-hopped twice, this beer is dank, piney, floral, and bittersweet enough to please the most ardent West Coast IPA fan.

Writer’s Pick: Pure West IPA

Pure West IPA
Pure Brewing Project

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $19 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

San Diego’s Pure Brewing Project constantly cranks out high-quality, flavorful IPAs. One of its best is Pure West, a classic West Coast IPA brewed with Mosaic, Citra, and Simcoe hops. It’s known for its dank, resinous pine flavor with notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and a nice hint of bitter, floral hops to remind you that you’re drinking a West Coast IPA.

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