How To Brew an American IPA (3 Recipes & Complete Style Guide!)

It takes a true hop-head to enjoy the bitterness of an American IPA, particularly a West Coast IPA. For those who go one step further from enjoying to creating, you may be wondering how to brew an American West Coast IPA.

Brew a delicious American IPA by using pale 2-row malts with crystal or Munich malts. The water profile should favor sulfates over chlorides and not be too high in alkalinity. The hops used should be a mixture of bittering and aroma. The flavors and aromas of the hops should be resinous.

A good American IPA is quite achievable, but a masterful one takes some intention. Let’s review every aspect of brewing this style of IPA.

What is an American IPA?

An American IPA IPA is loud and proud. This beer style puts hops on center stage with high bitterness. Unlike East Coast IPAs, there is usually little balancing from malt flavors. That isn’t to say that these flavors aren’t present, just that they aren’t prominent.

In general, the American IPA follows the American IPA in featuring American hop flavors and aromas. This includes citrus, fruit, and pine to name a few. It is the hop bitterness that takes center stage. Aside from the hops, the light malt flavors present can range from grain to caramel.

Other key characteristics include a moderate ABV, full to moderate body, little to no residual sugar, and decent carbonation. 

  • Color – 6 -14 SRM
  • Common flavor – Dry, citrus, bitter, floral
  • Aroma – Hop aromas, citrus, pine, fruity
  • Mouthfeel – Moderate body, smooth, effervescent 
  • IBUs (Bitterness) – 40 -70
  • ABV – 5.5% – 7.5%
American IPA recipes - West Coast

History of the American IPA

If you love IPAs you’re likely quite familiar with the origin of the style overall. What you may be less familiar with is the origin of West Coast IPAs specifically. The key to understanding this history is understanding the stereotypical relationship between England and the USA.

As craft brewers are wont to do, they took existing British beer styles and add their own flair. When they did so to the IPA in the 80s and 90s, the American IPA was born. Since then, the West Coast IPA continues that heavily hopped style.

The West Coast IPA, with its high IBU count, wasn’t incredibly popular at that time. It has only been in the past couple of decades that beer drinkers have been clamoring for these extremely hoppy beers.

American IPA recipes - Hazy New England

Popular commercial American IPAs

If you’ve never had a West Coast IPA, here are a few commercial examples. Once you’ve tried a few you’ll be able to get a full understanding of the style. 

  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo – Weighing in at 65 IBUs, the Torpedo features three hops: Magnum, Citra, and Crystal. 
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA – At 60 IBUs, the Union Jack IPA is no slouch either. This beer features a whole host of hops in the boil and dry hopping. It showcases citrus, grapefruit, and pine flavors to name a few.
  • Russian River Blind Pig IPA – Another great beer from Russian River Brewing Co., Blind Pig brings intense hop flavors at 6.25% ABV.
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. West Coast IPA – With six different hop varieties, this West Coast IPA is packed full of flavor. Between tropical fruits and pine flavors, there isn’t much to want for.

Popular American IPA recipe kits (all-grain or extract)

American IPA - All Grain or Extract Beer Brewing Kit (5 Gallons)

Our version, with 12 lbs of 2-row and 5.5 oz of Magnum and Cascade hops, is big.

IPA is drinkable right away but gets better with 1-2 months of aging as the alcohol mellows and the different flavors mix together.

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How to brew an American IPA

Once you have a good idea of the style it’s time to make your own. Whether you choose to experiment or to brew something standard you’ll need to know what is common. Let’s go over the best choices of ingredients. From water profile and grain bill to hops and yeast.

When you have selected your ingredients you’ll need to prepare for brew day and fermentation. Will you go all grain, extract, or partial mash? Learn what quirks there may be when brewing a West Coast IPA.

Recipe and ingredients

A West Coast IPA has a lot of flexibility when it comes to ingredients. The hops are the show’s clear star but can’t stand up without some semblance of a malt backbone. Most importantly, you need to pick a good yeast strain and use quality water.

Water profile

Although the water profile won’t make or break your beer (unless it’s awful water) it is still a crucial factor of amazing beer. 

A great water profile to start with for a West Coast IPA has a higher ratio of sulfates to chlorides. A good ratio is 2:1 or even 3:1. Other aspects of the water profile are open to interpretation.

By having more sulfates than chlorides, your water will enhance the bitterness of your hops. If you were to reverse the ratio, you would be enhancing the malt flavors, which is generally considered wrong for this style.

You can get to this water profile by adjusting your tap water or using a blank slate such as RO or distilled water. Generally, a blank slate is the easier option. For a deeper dive into water profiles, check out this article on water profiles for IPAs.

Base grains

Without a good grain bill, you won’t have as impressive of a West Coast IPA. The base grains will be doing the hard work of setting the stage for all the hops you add. 

A West Coast IPA is benefitted from light malt flavors that evoke dry cracker flavors. This means simple pale 2-row malts–usually American. Maris Otter is a great choice from the UK. 

Another option you can go with is a pilsner malt. Each of these options will result in clear, crisp beer. The flavors they add won’t be overpowering while still adding some substance.

Base grains for an American IPA

These malts can make up the majority (or even the entirety) of your grain bill without losing much.

Specialty grains or other additions

Naturally, experimentation is the spirit of home brewing. Using base malts exclusively will work, but specialty grains and adjuncts will add something extra.

Using crystal malt in your West Coast IPA will add some color, body, and sweetness to compliment the hop profile. You can even add a touch of Munich malts to truly contrast the hops.

It should be noted that these additions don’t take much. Since they aren’t the focus you don’t want to have them take up a large portion of your grain bill. Keep the specialty grains and adjuncts to 20% or less as a guideline.


Now we come to the main event. Choosing the hops for your brew is choosing its character. Do you want the meanest bitter bomb possible or a milder but no less dank brew? Whatever your goal, let’s look at the styles of hops and some of your options.

In general, American hops are always a good choice for a West Coast IPA. That said, any hops with high alpha acid concentrations are great. Then there are those with desirable flavor and aroma.

These are two different styles of hops though there is some overlap. Let’s look at the differences.

Base grains for an American IPA

Bittering hops are the best at what they do. They are grown to have high alpha acid concentrations. When dropped early into your boil these acids isomerize and add bitterness to your brew.

Unfortunately, this long boil damages the oils that provide flavor and aroma. Because of this, bittering hops are not usually chosen for what flavors they provide. That said, being critical when choosing your ingredients is always alright. They do still provide some flavor, however slight.

Here are a few bittering hops that go great in a West Coast IPA.

NamePurposeAlpha Acid %
ChinookBittering + Aroma12-14%
SimcoeBittering + Aroma12-14%
Good bittering hops for American IPAs
Aroma and Flavor

Hops that you add later in the boil will transfer much of their flavor and aroma. Depending on when you add them you will still get some bittering but certainly less.

These hops are what you use when you want to add hops during flameout or dry hop. When you take them off the heat you will get more flavor though it will take some time. 

Bittering hops and flavor hops are equally important in a West Coast IPA. Look for hops that bring resinous flavors if you want to embrace the traditions of the styles. Alternatively, interesting combinations are always welcome in the IPA sphere. 

NameFlavor/AromaAlpha Acid %
CascadeCitrus, floral4.5-7%
MosaicCitrus, berry, fruity11.5-13.5%
SimcoePine, citrus, fruity12-14%
CentennialPine, citrus, floral9.5-11.5%
CitraFloral, fruity, citrus11-13%
Good aroma hops for American IPAs


The yeast you choose is as important as the hops you include. Yeast can have a large impact on many of the main aspects of your beer.

The yeast options for a West Coast IPA can be quite varied. Generally, you want a yeast strain that has medium attenuation. The flocculation level can be anywhere from low to high. As for the flavors that the yeast brings, the style tends to lean toward clean fermenters.

Fruity esters can be acceptable but aren’t as common in this style. Instead, yeast strains that let the hops and malts shine are the best idea. If you want to muddy the waters of beer styles there are many options for IPA yeasts as explained here.


Here are some great possible dry yeasts for a West Coast IPA.

NameAttenuationFlocculationTemp Range
Safale US-0578-82%Medium64.4-78.8°F
US West Coast Yeast M4477-85%High59-74°F
Safale S-0474-82%Medium77°F-84°F
Good dry yeast options for American IPAs

Here are some great possible liquid yeasts for a West Coast IPA.

NameAttenuationFlocculationTemp Range
Wyeast 172869-73%High55-75°F
Wyeast 105673-77%Low – medium60°-72° F
Good liquid yeast options for American IPAs

Brewing process for American IPAs

When brew day comes around after collecting your ingredients and sanitizing your equipment your beer is almost here. All that remains is the actual combining of the ingredients in the proper way. 

The brewing process for a West Coast IPA is mostly the same as any other. The biggest difference will be all of the hop additions. Chances are, your recipe will call for several boil additions, post-boil additions, and dry hopping. 

For an all-grain recipe, the mash, mash out, and lautering will be pretty typical. From there, whether you’re doing all-grain, partial mash, or extract brewing, your boil will be busy.

Transferring to your fermenter and fermenting itself will call for slightly more than normal but not by much. This is likely extended by a secondary fermentation of dry hopping. From there, it is smooth sailing in the form of packaging.


In general, you’ll want to mash on the lower end for a West Coast IPA. Somewhere in the range of 150° F will be ideal. This will make for a dry beer as the sugars are easily fermentable.

A dry backdrop will improve the overall experience of the beer.


The boil for a West Coast IPA will be either an hour or an hour and a half. This gives you plenty of time to add all of the hops for both bittering and flavor. Typical hop addition times are at the beginning of your boil and just before you flame out.

The longer boil also helps you avoid any by-products. This is particularly important if you decided to include lots of pilsner malt. Of course, a longer boil is not necessary. There is enough time in an hour’s boil to extract the characteristic bitterness.

How to brew an American IPA

Whirlpool or flameout

With a West Coast IPA, you are more than likely going to add some hops during flameout. One of the best methods for this is a whirlpool. This allows you to get some of the flavor and aroma with less chance of bittering.

As you remove your wort from the heat you can spin your wort into a whirlpool and toss in some hops. This lower temperature will help extract the oils in the hop faster than dry hopping. 

This can be done immediately after removing the wort from the heat or several minutes later as it cools.

Fermenting American IPAs

The primary fermentation step is quite standard for a West Coast IPA. Keep your yeast fermentation temperature in the middle of the temperature range. This style, in particular, is more likely to call for secondary fermentation stages. This will extend the overall process.

Aside from the commonality of secondary fermentation and dry hopping, there isn’t much to note about fermentation and West Coast IPAs.


Though yeast dependent, a good temperature range to stay within when fermenting a West Coast IPA is 65° F to 68° F. This should fall in the rough middle of most strains. If it does not, adjust it to make it so.

By staying in the middle you aren’t encouraging excessive ester production or risking slow fermentation. While esters aren’t a major focus of the style, they aren’t unforgivable. If you prefer not to risk esters you can reduce the temps slightly.

Bottling or Kegging American IPAs

When it comes to packaging your brew there are several schools of thought. At the end of the day, it is up to you and what you have.

Since hop flavors and aromas don’t last indefinitely it is simpler to keg your West Coast IPA instead of bottling. Bottling is slightly more involved.

There are, of course, benefits to both. Whichever method is most likely to encourage drinking the beer while it is fresh is the option to go with.

American IPA recipes

Whether you prefer to follow recipes or simply draw inspiration from them, here are some for you to peruse. Each of these recipes is from various home brewers, as credited below.

  • Green Flash West Coast IPA Clone (All Grain
  • West Coast IPA Clone
  • West Coast IPA

Green Flash West Coast IPA Clone

This recipe is from user Josh Brewer on Brewer’s Friend.


  • Pale 2-Row – 11.36 lbs
  • Carapils – 1.14 lbs
  • Carastan – 1.14 lbs
  • Amarillo hops – 0.45 oz
  • Cascade hops – 1.36 oz
  • Centennial hops – 0.45 oz
  • Columbus hops – 1.82 oz
  • Simcoe hops – 2.49 oz
  • WLP001


  1. Heat 20.46 quarts of water to 150° F.
  2. Mash for 1 hour.
  3. Mash out and collect 7 gallons of wort.
  4. Boil for 90 minutes. Add 0.23 oz of Columbus and 0.45 oz of Simcoe at the beginning.
  5. At 60 minutes left, add 0.23 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  6. At 30 minutes left, add 0.23 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  7. At 15 minutes left, add 0.68 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  8. At flameout, add 0.91 oz of Cascade and 0.45 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  9. Transfer to fermenter.
  10. Cool and pitch yeast.
  11. Ferment for one week at 68° F.
  12. Transfer to a secondary fermenter. Add the rest of the hops.
  13. Dry hop for 1 week.
  14. Package and enjoy!

West Coast IPA Clone

This recipe is from user KevinJ on Brewer’s Friend.


  • American – Pale 2-Row – 12.50 lbs
  • United Kingdom – Carastan – 1.25 lb
  • United Kingdom – Dextrine Malt – 1.25 lb
  • German – Acidulated Malt – 4 oz
  • Amarillo hops – 0.5 oz
  • Cascade hops – 1.5 oz
  • Centennial hops – 0.5 oz
  • Columbus hops – 1.25 oz
  • Simcoe hops – 3.5 oz
  • Wyeast 1056


  1. Heat 20 quarts of water to 150° F.
  2. Mash for 1 hour.
  3. Mash out and collect 7.5 gallons of wort.
  4. Boil for 90 minutes. Add 0.25 oz of Columbus and 0.5 oz of Simcoe at the beginning.
  5. At 60 minutes left, add 0.25 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  6. At 30 minutes left, add 0.25 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  7. At 15 minutes left, add 1.5 oz of Simcoe.
  8. At flameout, add 1 oz of Cascade and 0.5 oz each of Columbus and Simcoe.
  9. Transfer to fermenter.
  10. Cool and pitch yeast.
  11. Ferment for 1 week at 68° F.
  12. Transfer to a secondary fermenter. Add the rest of the hops.
  13. Dry hop for 1 week.
  14. Package as desired.

Basic West Coast IPA Recipe

This recipe is from user Trekker23 on Brewer’s Friend.


  • American – Pale 2-Row – 12 lbs
  • American – Carapils – 0.5 lb
  • American – Caramel/Crystal 40° L – 0.5lb
  • Cascade hops – 1 oz
  • Centennial hops – 2 oz
  • Chinook hops – 1 oz
  • Columbus hops – 1 oz
  • Simcoe hops – 1 oz


  1. Heat 18 quarts of water to 150° F.
  2. Mash for 1 hour.
  3. Mash out and collect 6.5 gallons of wort.
  4. Boil for 60 minutes. Add the Columbus at the beginning.
  5. At 20 minutes left, add 1 oz of Centennial.
  6. At 10 minutes left, add the Chinook and Cascade.
  7. Flameout.
  8. Transfer to fermenter.
  9. Cool and pitch yeast.
  10. Ferment for 1 week at 66° F.
  11. Transfer to a secondary fermenter. Add the rest of the hops.
  12. Dry hop for 3 days.
  13. Bottle or keg as desired.

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