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Craft Beer Times | Brewmasters at Firestone Walker, Lawson’s, and Breakside Dive into Modern West Coast IPAs

Brewmasters at Firestone Walker, Lawson’s, and Breakside Dive into Modern West Coast IPAs

Brewmasters at Firestone Walker, Lawson’s, and Breakside Dive into Modern West Coast IPAs

Brewing Modern West Coast–Style IPAs


When it comes to craft beer, there are few styles as iconic as the West Coast–Style IPA. Known for its bold hop flavors and high bitterness, this style has captured the hearts of beer enthusiasts all over the world. In episode 309 of our podcast, we had the pleasure of sitting down with three renowned breweries—Firestone Walker, Lawson’s, and Breakside—to discuss the art of brewing these modern West Coast–Style IPAs. Here, we delve into the insights shared by these brewing legends.

Embracing the West Coast Roots

One of the standout features of a West Coast–Style IPA is the prominent hop character that defines it. Breakside Brewery, known for their innovative brewing techniques, highlighted the importance of leveraging the region’s abundance of hop varieties. With a focus on using hops native to the West Coast, they are able to create unique flavor profiles that truly capture the essence of the region.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids also emphasized the role of hops in crafting their renowned IPAs. By using a combination of hops in the brewing process, they are able to achieve a balanced bitterness and vibrant hop aroma that defines their beers.

Balancing Bitterness with Flavor

When it comes to West Coast–Style IPAs, a key challenge for brewers lies in achieving a harmonious balance between the intense bitterness and the overall flavor profile. Firestone Walker Brewery shed some light on this topic, explaining that choosing the right malt backbone is crucial. By using a blend of malts that provide a slightly sweet and caramel-like base, they can offset the bitterness of the hops and create a more well-rounded beer.

Breakside Brewery shared their brewing process, which involves late hop additions during fermentation. This technique allows them to extract additional hop aroma and flavors, further enhancing the complexity of their IPAs.

Incorporating Modern Techniques

To keep up with the changing beer landscape, breweries are constantly experimenting with new techniques and ingredients. Firestone Walker, for example, discussed their use of hop extracts to amplify the hop flavors in their West Coast–Style IPAs. These extracts allow for precise control over the intensity of the hops, resulting in beers with explosive hop character.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids also embraces new brewing methods, including dry hopping at different stages of fermentation. This approach allows them to layer hop flavors and aromas, creating a multi-dimensional beer that stands out in a crowded market.


The craft beer industry continues to evolve, but the West Coast–Style IPA remains a beloved classic. Through our podcast episode with Firestone Walker, Lawson’s, and Breakside, it is evident that these breweries are deeply committed to brewing exceptional West Coast–Style IPAs while pushing the boundaries of what the style can be. Whether you prefer a crisp and bitter IPA or a more tropical and fruity version, there is undoubtedly a West Coast–Style IPA out there for everyone to enjoy.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

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