pFriem Family Brewers introduces a year-round West Coast IPA and brewmaster Josh pFriem offers some thoughts on the nature of this new/old style.
In the beginning, all IPA was West Coast IPA. In America, that is. It’s a historical fact. In the 1980s, Yakima Brewing and Malting (Bert Grant’s Brewpub) created the first American-brewed IPA–a beer Bert fashioned after an all-but-forgotten English style of ale. A few other breweries followed his lead. Notably, another Washington brewery: Redhook.
The style did not immediately catch on, but by the late 90s, IPA started to gain popularity among the few, hardcore beer nerds of the day. Those original IPAs (West Coast-brewed) had very little in common with today’s IPAs. They were bitter. The flavors were never described as tropical or fruity. They were not hazy. There were no subcategories. These days, West Coast IPA is making a comeback, in name at least, but the contemporary version is quite unlike the original.
According to Josh pFriem, co-founder and brewmaster at pFriem Family Brewers, “West Coast IPAs have been around for over 20 years, but the new ones are much less bitter, more aromatic, and brewed with a modern touch incorporating what we have learned over the last 20 years.”
That modern touch involves, among other things, a massive catalog of new, aromatic, flavor-packed hop varieties that Bert Grant and his contemporaries couldn’t have imagined. That’s just the beginning. There are a number of newfangled hop products to consider: Phantasm, Salvo, Incognito, and many others. Add thiolized yeast to the list and the modern brewer’s toolbox is loaded with options for supercharging IPAs.
“Concentrated hop products are part of this mission,” says Josh pFriem. “As they evolve, so will West Coast IPA. Whether used in high or small quantities, they will help with the future of this style.”
Josh compares the modern West Coast IPA to its counterpart, the Hazy IPA, noting the difference. “If you can harness some of the more delicate flavors of hops, while leaving some of the vegetal ones behind, it allows you to do this on a leaner and more dry body. Opposite of what you are accomplishing in a Hazy IPA.”
According to pFriem, the rise of West Coast IPA is aligned with some larger market trends. “There is a unique intersection right now. You have a vibrant and strong market in Hazy IPAs, which are known for their big, fruity, tropical, sticky, and soft flavors. At the same time, a good portion of drinkers are exploring various options like hard seltzers, canned mixed drinks, and more. There’s also a segment that wants the clear character of an IPA but craves the fruitiness of the Hazy IPAs.”
“Beer drinkers are asking for IPA that has the impact of big fruity flavors, while managing balance in creating something that is bright, drinkable, dynamic, and something that you want to drink more than one of.”
“IPA continues to evolve and change over time,” adds Josh. “West Coast IPA is a reflection of the moment – big fruity and impactful flavors on a lean and bright body.”
The brewery describes its new West Coast IPA as carefully brewed with high-quality pale malt from British Columbia, and a touch of corn sugar to allow the hops to effuse a vibrant aroma. The beer incorporates a masterful blend of Pacific Northwest’s powerhouse, Citra, and Oregon’s new-school hop, Strata. This fusion creates bright, aromatic notes of tangerine, cannabis, strawberry, starfruit, and grapefruit, and features a lean and bright palate.
pFriem Family Brewers’ West Coast IPA is described as dry and crisp, with a modern and striking hop profile. It’s available in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. Look for it, starting in August, in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho with limited distribution in Southern California and Nevada.
For more news about recent beer releases, visit the Washington Beer Blog’s New Beer Releases page.