Thursday 3 November 2022

West Coast IPA - Recipe Creation Guide

Style Overview

West Coast IPA is a sub-style of the American IPA (21A in the BJCP). It isn't documented as it's own official sub-style meaning there's plenty of room for interpretation for brewers - though there are some generally agreed on features that make up a West Coast IPA which we'll cover in more detail below.

The style originated in the 1990's, with brewers on the West Coast of the USA pushing the boundaries of hop additions in their beers - increasing hop bitterness and supporting malt bills significantly from the "regular" IPA's available at the time in what became a hop bitterness "arms race".

Popularity has varied over the years and the West Coast IPA has been facing stiff competition in recent years with the surge in popularity of other aggressively hoppy styles such as the New England IPA (NEIPA) or Hazy IPA.

There are three key things a West Coast IPA should have. Distinct bitterness, a dry, crisp finish, and loads of hop aroma and flavour.


The appearance of a West Coast IPA closely matches the American IPA style - colour ranging from medium gold to light reddish-amber. Ideally it should have high clarity, though heavily dry-hopped and unfiltered versions may be a little hazy. Medium sized white to off-white head with good persistence.


West Coast IPA's are all about the hops and should showcase new world American hop varieties that exhibit citrus, floral, pine, spicy and resinous notes. Grassiness should be avoided. A low to medium-low clean, grainy-malty aroma may be found in the background but should not be prominent or distract from the hops. Some dankness from yeast and hops is also acceptable.


As with aroma properties, the flavour of West Coast IPA's is incredibly hop forward. Bitterness should be high with malt flavour low to medium. Some light caramel or toasty flavours are acceptable but should be kept to a minimum so as to not take away from the hops. Finish should be dry with low levels of residual sweetness. Some dank or weed-like aromas are common and acceptable.


Medium to medium-full body. Medium to medium-high carbonation. No hop derived astringecy. Light, smooth alcohol warming is not considered a fault so long as it doesn't intrude into the overall balance of the beer.

Vital Statistics

ABV: 6% - as high as you dare to go
IBU: Minimum 50
SRM: 10 - 17
OG: Minimum 1.056
FG: 1.008 - 1.010


Base Pale Malt - 80-90%
Munich/Biscuit - 1% - 10%
Crystal Malt - 1 - 5%
Wheat Malt - 1 - 5%
Dextrose/simple sugars - 1 - 10%

A base pale malt will make up the majority of the grain bill - regular 2 row is common but can also be substituted in part (or completely) for varieties such as Golden Promise or Marris Otter to add some more complexity. Lighter base pale malts like lager or pilsner malts can also be included as part of the base pale malt component.

Munich malt is optional and can be added at values up to 10% for some additional malt flavour and complexity.

Light to medium coloured crystal malts are common to add some darkness and residual sweetness but should be added at no more than 5% of the total grist.

Wheat malt is optional and can be added in small amounts up to 5% to help improve mouth feel and promote head retention.

Straight up simple sugar or dextrose can also be added up to 10% to help boost alcohol content without adding too much depth or additional malt character to the beer. Inclusion of dextrose can also help promote the dry finish that is required. Don't add more than 10% dextrose though as this can lead to  hot ethanol flavours which are undesirable.


Hops are typically added at the beginning of the boil (60 or 90 minutes) for bittering, with later additions being added at any or all of 15, 10, 5 and 0 minutes for flavour and aroma. There should be a decent bitterness charge added at the beginning of the boil to provide the high level of bitterness required for the style.

30 minute additions are redundant and should be avoided (unless you're doing a 30 minute boil instead of 60 minutes) which is becoming increasingly common.

New world American hop varieties should be used including (but not limited to) Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook, Citra.

Hop amounts are typically doubled from what is seen in a standard American IPA.

Whirlpool Hop Additions

Whirlpool hop additions are also optional but can certainly be done to help impart even more hop flavour and aroma in addition to (or instead of) late hop additions to the boil. Typical whirlpool hopstand would be for 10-15 minutes at approx 80°C.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping should be aggressive to help promote the required hop flavours and characteristics of the style. Aim for no more than 3 days total contact time for your dry hop additions.

Mash (Temperature & Time)

Mash @ 65°C (to create a highly fermentable wort to leave promote a high attenuation and dry finish)
Mashout @ 75°C for 10 minutes


Go for a neutral American style yeast. Some popular/common options are below

  • WY1272 American Ale II
  • WLP 001 Californian Ale
  • Mangrove Jacks M36 Liberty Ale
  • Fermentis US-05
  • Lallemand BRY-97

Water Profile

As with any beer, water is an essential ingredient and should not be overlooked. In general terms, a water profile that has elevated sulfate levels should be used for this style of beer to help the hops shine and promote the dry finish on the palate. Brewfather's "Hoppy" water profile is a good baseline to start from. Aim for a sulfate to chloride ratio of around 2:1.

Fermentation Temperature

Begin fermentation at the lower end of the yeasts recommended temperature range - fermenting at a lower temperature  helps to promote a clean flavour profile and reduce the risk of off flavours developing. After at least 5 days of fermentation, begin raising the temperature 1°C per day for 3 days (for a 3°C total increase in temperature). Raising the temperature towards the end of fermentation helps the yeast clean up after itself and is often referred to as a diacetyl rest.

Pressure Fermentation

Pressure fermentation can be beneficial for this style of beer as fermenting under pressure will help to suppress any off flavours from being created. Typical pressure used is around 10psi.

Cold Crashing

Cold crashing can be beneficial to this style of beer as it can help the hop debris settle to the bottom of the fermenter with the rest of the trub which in turn helps improve the clarity of the beer.

Sample Recipe

West Coast IPA Recipe (All Grain)

Related Articles

All Recipe Creation Guides

All-Grain Recipe List

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