Folks are quick to lash out at hop-obsessed American brewing, but that doesn’t change the fact that IPAs are by far the most popular style of beer in this country. And nobody does mega-hopped beers like the folks in the region that invented them: the West Coast.
Naturally, the style’s popularity has resulted in a seeming arms race to see who can make the hoppiest beer, and the results aren’t always pretty. Bitterness in beer is often measured by a system called IBU (International Bittering Units), which uses a one-to-100 scale that’s less “hard science” and more “educated guess,” and can be very misleading. While some studies argue your palate may not be able to perceive more than 100 IBUs, that hasn’t stopped folks from pushing the limits.
These beers brazenly attempt to summit Mount Humulus Lupulus and overtake that 100-IBU threshold (with one exception) and still manage to come out the other side tasting like some of the best IPAs you have ever had. Some even bridge the gap and once again become flavorful to the anti-hop-head’s palate by veering closer to bittersweet fresh-squeezed juice, a cocktail, or good weed. These are the best of the West Coast’s hoppiest beers.