During our extended tasting of Double IPA, we've sampled DIPA from Maine, and New England in general. This week, we'll head west to taste DIPAs from California. Our western journey is certainly appropriate, because this style of beer probably originated in California. In fact, a single California brewer, Vinnie Cilurzo, takes credit for inventing the style! In present times, West Coast DIPAs tend to feature the bitter, brash hops that grow in the pacific northwest – like Columbus, Cascade, and Chinook. These hops lend West Coast versions of DIPA a more bitter flavor profile than East Coast versions. Enjoy our trip out west, loyal reader!


Lagunitas Maximus IPA

ABV: 8.2%
Format Sampled12 oz capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage
Tasting Notes: Pours a pale copper with a moderate off-white head. Aroma has ripe citrus, warm honey and some sharp alcohol. The initial flavor is quite broad, smooth and subtle. A lovely citrus character predominates, sweet, fresh and refined — but not “juicy.” Oily citrus peel and pith add some astringency and tannin to balance the sweetness. The hops are underneath, adding a melodious, gentle bitterness. The aftertaste is quite clean and bright, with the gentle warmth of mulled orange-peel. A staggeringly gentle, simple, delicious DIPA. The flavor belies the impressive alcoholic strength, and it remains tremendously drinkable.


Ballast Point Manta Ray Double IPA

ABV: 8.5%
Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Tasting Notes: Pours a slightly hazy pale yellow with a pure white head. Aroma is thick with pine, mint and marmalade, fuming with hoppy intensity. The initial taste is a whiffleball bat of hops applied to my tongue — slap! It's immediately herbal, floral and features the big, green flavor of damp vegetation. Backing up the hop slap is a rich slick of malt flavor. It's peculiar in it's toffee-like concentration, and slightly musty too — but it works very well as a foil to the hops. Despite the richness of the malt, the body is light and the overall flavor impression is surprisingly moderate. Doubtless this is a big beer, but it's easy to drink, so it sneaks up on you with all the stealth of a ray sliding through the surf.


Firestone Walker Leo V. Ursus

ABV: 8.5%
Format Sampled16 oz. capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage
Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy golden copper with a thin, white head. Aroma has piquant herbs, citrus peel, and fruity alcohol. Initial flavor is mouthwatering, bursting with sour citrus, simultaneously tangy, juicy and sweet. As the citrus explosion dies down to embers in my mouth, I detect a achingly hoppy, profoundly alcoholic tickle in the back of my throat. While the Leo has you distracted with the fruit-forward flavor, Ursus is busy dumping a bucket load of hops and alcohol down your gullet. No matter if Leo bests Ursus, fans of hoppy strong beers with always win with this beer.


Seth is a beer writer, outdoor enthusiast and non-profit consultant.

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