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Thursday, October 3, 2019

West Ghost IPA

West Ghost IPA

Thoughts as they rattle around in my head. 

Transparent musings for the soul of the IPA haunting once proud alchemists dedicated to clarity of their craft.

First there was Blind Pig. Along came Arrogant Bastard and Ruination which tried to  alter your DNA. Pliny The Elder landed upon this world forever changing the beer landscape. But, Green Flash birthed the name "West Coast IPA". The name that would be synonymous with Extreme IPA and the beer that would become the messiah of craft beer for more than a decade. 

Ah, the fantastic bouquet of pine, earth, grassy, citrus and some floral essence sprinkled about. The crisp edgy tingle on your lips and tongue. 

Smooth malt slides across your palate and is cast aside by a tangy bitterness. The assault continues as the alcohol evaporates as it swirls around your mouth releasing subtle sweetness and warmth.

The final bitterness casts about dank and sticky flavors you can almost smell. Or is it smells you can almost taste? The sudden dryness wipes a clean slate to your palate readying you for the next luxurious sip.

The beer that changed Craft Beer is the West coast IPA. Predecessors like Liberty Ale might have cleared a few boulders and more subtle IPA with subdued hops like Two Hearted or Lagunitas found a following but the West Coast IPA changed the beer world. 

Breweries crammed pound after pound of hops searching for the most potent concentration of hop aroma and flavors. The hundreds of bold and subtle aromas and flavors carrying you away to distant exotic lands full of rich spices and marvelous fields of flowers where their perfumes invoke feelings of happiness and euphoria.

These same potent elixirs came with a price. The bitterness assaulted your senses shattering the your almost spiritual journey dragging you back to reality with barbed hooks and rusty edge spears. The West Coast IPA broke through the boundaries of sensibility and flagrantly abused you at the whim of the brewer.

We flocked to these beers clamoring for more, more more hops. But we lost sight of the different between hops and bitterness. For a time, we lost the our way among the harsh, coarse and hard to swallow bitter pill accompanying the once breath taking beer. 

So the ship started righting itself. Unfortunately, while the West Coast IPA was re-centering itself and shedding some of the  extremes trying to re-define it, a gap was left in the IPA world. This hole, like the swirling mist of a seers crystal ball, was being filled with a new IPA that had an opaqueness like the fog obscuring the coastline.

We stared into the hazy landscape not seeing the new threat to the West Coast IPA because, the haze was the threat! 

We weathered the Black and Cascadian IPA storm. Short lived as it was destined to be. With a few surviving examples that broke free from the lack of vision most suffered from, the West Coast IPA remained victorious. 

For several years, some breweries on the other coast were brewing some beers that should be consumed but not seen. Like a grotesque deformed fruit, beers like Heady Topper demanded you shield your eyes before consuming less you be repulsed by the sheer sight of it's... haze.

The onslaught filling the void of the drinkable West Coast IPA continued. Beer drinkers had quickly tired of the palate abuse and near permanent damage to their taste buds. IBUs fell and fell and were replaced hazy IPAs. Not just hazy though. These beers seem as if they were just hazy. Most insidiously, the hoards coming though the haze brought with them juicy. 

Hazy IPAs sent the established craft beer drinkers in a tizzy. A TIZZY. How dare you not serve me a clear beer! But the first volley of hazy beers brought new, interesting hops and shared a new brewing term "bio-transformation" that was cast about without restraint. If we could look through or beyond the haze, there was something interesting being brought to us and laid at out feet.

Alas, we were so distracted by the haze, we accused hazy beer brewers of poor fermentation practices, called them lazy brewers and a myriad other insults slung at these new frontiersman.  What we didn't see coming was this super juice craze. 

Hazy has become synonymous with Juicy. Young craft beer drinkers are flocking to this sweeter, low bitterness juice box IPA in droves. These flavor so reminiscent of their ever so recent adolescent juice boxes and Sunny Delight sugary drinks driving them into diabetes at an accelerating pace. 

Hazy is now synonymous with "juicy". The heretics who brought Hazy IPA didn't notice they were being overrun by sweet, nearly barely bittered fruit bombs bursting with citrus like Mandarin Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit or tropical fruits like Mango, Passion Fruit, Pineapple and Guava.

The West Coast IPA that once dominated the IPA landscape and redefined the home and craft beer world is quickly fading into the mist.

They are just spirits, ghosts, West Ghost IPA's.

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