The Triumphant Return of the West Coast IPA: A Craft Beer Renaissance in 2024

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As the calendar flipped to 2024, the craft beer world found itself amidst a renaissance, a revival that harkens back to the roots of the American craft beer movement. Among the trends that have defined this year, one stands out for its bold return to prominence: the West Coast IPA. This classic style, known for its crisp bitterness, clear appearance, and hop-forward profile, is once again capturing the hearts of beer aficionados and casual drinkers alike. In this Session article, we dive into the resurgence of the West Coast IPA, exploring the reasons behind its comeback and highlighting two breweries that are leading the charge in this hoppy resurgence.

The West Coast IPA never truly left the scene but was overshadowed in recent years by the hazy, juicy New England IPAs that dominated taprooms and beer aisles. However, as tastes evolve and cycles turn, beer enthusiasts have begun to yearn for the bold, piney, and citrusy profiles that originally put craft beer on the map. Breweries have noted this shift, balancing their portfolios away from an exclusive focus on hazies to reincorporate the clear, bitter, and hop-centric West Coast style​​.

This return is not just about nostalgia; it’s about refinement and evolution. Today’s West Coast IPAs retain their characteristic dryness and bitterness but are infused with new-school hops, giving them a modern twist with fruitier profiles and even more aromatic complexity. Brewers are experimenting with hop extracts, oils, and cryogenically processed lupulin pellets to push the boundaries of flavor and aroma while maintaining the style’s traditional appeal​​.

Breakside Brewery’s Wanderlust IPA

One of the breweries leading the resurgence is Breakside Brewery, with its flagship Wanderlust IPA. Breakside has always been a proponent of the West Coast style, and Wanderlust IPA exemplifies this commitment. It showcases a balanced use of classic Centennial and Simcoe hops, offering drinkers a crisp, resinous, and citrus-packed experience. The brewery’s dedication to maintaining a clean malt backbone allows the hop aromas and flavors to shine, making Wanderlust a quintessential example of the modern West Coast IPA​​.

Sierra Nevada’s Trail Pass IPA

Another key player in the revival is Sierra Nevada, a name synonymous with the craft beer movement. In 2024, Sierra Nevada introduced the Trail Pass IPA, part of their non-alcoholic line that captures the essence of the West Coast IPA without the alcohol. This innovative approach not only caters to the sober-curious and those seeking lower-ABV options but also showcases the brewery’s commitment to the style. The Trail Pass IPA features the hop-forward, bitter, and crisp characteristics that define the West Coast IPA, proving that the essence of this beloved style can transcend alcohol content​​.

The return of the West Coast IPA in 2024 is a testament to the cyclical nature of consumer preferences and the versatility of craft beer. As breweries continue to innovate within this style, incorporating new hops, techniques, and even non-alcoholic variations, the West Coast IPA is poised to remain a staple in the craft beer landscape. Its resurgence reflects a broader trend of balance and diversity in brewery portfolios, catering to a wide array of tastes and preferences.

The re-emergence of the West Coast IPA is not just a nod to the past; it’s a step into the future of craft beer, where tradition and innovation converge. As all of us Session Readers raise our glasses to this enduring style, let’s savor the hoppy, bitter, and beautifully clear brews that are once again taking center stage. Cheers to the West Coast IPA, a style that has weathered the trends to reclaim its rightful place in the pantheon of craft beer.

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