Beer Style Breakdown: New England IPA vs. West Coast IPA

Jun. 22, 2018

In early 2018, the Brewers Association made the ”Juicy or Hazy IPA” an official beer category when it released its 2018 Beer Style Guidelines. While some in the beer industry were surprised that the hazy beer trend had just been immortalized as an official beer style, in retrospect, it was only a matter of time before the powers that be gave in and recognized the sudsy beast that the hazy IPA had become.

The Vitals

Beer-Style: Juicy or Hazy IPA
Origin: U.S.A., around 2010
ABV: 6.3%-7.5%
SRM: 4-7– Straw to deep gold
Bitterness: 50-70 IBUs, though may differ from perceived bitterness


The History

While it is impossible to declare the exact date the first Hazy IPA was brewed into existence, we do know that a handful of small, independent breweries in Vermont were serving opaque IPAs to consumers are early as 2015. Within a year, more than a dozen breweries in and around Vermont were producing hazy IPAs, which is why these beers were quickly referred to as New England-style IPAs.

So what gives these IPAs their opaque appearance and juicy body? Oftentimes, a brewery will include a small amount of oat, wheat or other adjuncts into the beer’s mashbill, which will not only produce a haziness, but it can also give the beer a fuller body and softer mouthfeel. To further accentuate the hazy factor, these beers are left unfiltered.


How it Compares to American-Style West Coast IPA

One of the key differences between the Hazy IPA and its American West Coast-style IPA forefather is the usage of hops. West Coast IPAs are aggressively hopped to achieve big, bitter flavors like grapefruit peel, lemon rind and peppery pine. Hazy IPAs, on the other hand, use their hops primarily for their aroma. Hazy IPAs a brewed to smell like an orange grove, but their flavor is far more balanced and easy drinking than West Coast IPAs, and as a result, they appeal to a wider audience of drinkers.


New England Hazy IPA or West Coast IPA

With the recent wave of Hazy IPAs entering the marketplace customers face a tough choice choosing between two equally delicious, but very different, IPAs. To prevent an East Coast vs. West Coast turf war, we reached out to of Breakthru Beverage Colorado’s Therese Rednor to get her thoughts on which IPA reigns supreme.

Spoiler alert: it’s a tie.


Expert Breakdown: Therese Rednor, Breakthru Beverage Colorado Craft Beer Specialist

Therese Rednor: This is tough! I think they stand shoulder to shoulder.

Here’s why:

West Coast IPA – an established style of IPA which allows the hops to showcase their true character. This twist on the IPA allowed our beer culture to become even that much more independent having taken a page from the classics but putting our own American spin on it. The aroma and flavor profile can be so vast in this category – piney, grapefruit, citrus, dank. It all depends on what hop(s) the brewers what to showcase, and showcase them they do.

Hazy IPA – the new kid on the block but is it here to stay?  This IPA opens the IPA category to the non-hopheads as the perceived bitterness is so low and instead allows the fruity/estery character of the hop to shine. This style also introduces consumers to the idea that their beer CAN be cloudy, SHOULD be cloudy and it’s OK to be cloudy. This flavorful take on the IPA, I believe, appeals to both the standard IPA consumer as well as those consumers just dipping their toe into the craft world – particularly the IPA craft world.


There you have it. There is no need to choose between West Coast IPAs and Hazy IPAs, and in fact, we suggest you have a selection of both available at your account for customers to enjoy.

Breakthru Beverage carries a wide variety of IPAs even beyond these to popular styles. Contact your Breakthru Sales Consultant or Craft Specialist to explore our full portfolio of options.

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