OK, so just what the heck is a San Diego IPA, anyway? Good question, folks. Until several years ago, I hadn’t even heard of San Diego IPA, and as a bruguru, I do usually keep on top of this stuff, you know. Anyway, I believe the first so-called “San Diego IPA” I had that called itself same was Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale.
Yes, this is an imperial IPA really, but it seems the hallmark of a San Diego IPA is to be an Imperial IPA but with less malt body. Or maybe not. Some say that San Diego IPA is just a name that should be given to Double IPAs in general, since the style allegedly emerged there. Here is how Green Flash Brewing describes San Diego IPA (and they should know, being based in San Diego):
“pale in color, super-hoppy, high gravity, yet a highly quaffable ale.”
Now comes the plaintiff, Port Brewing Wipe Out IPA. They call this beer a San Diego IPA. From the label:
“Our version of a West Coast India Pale Ale brewed in the San Diego style.”
And here are the specs:
Malts – Two Row, Wheat, Carapils and English Crystal Malts
Hops – Amarillo, Centennial and Simcoe
Yeast – White Labs’ California Ale
Original Gravity – 1.064
Terminal Gravity – 1.008
ABV – 7.0%
Thing is, this beer isn’t really a lot like the Green Flash Imperial IPA. At 7% ABV, it’s a full 2.4 percentage points lower than the latter, and not even really an imperial IPA in style. It’s more of a straight IPA with a very assertive hop character. I first tried this beer on draft at Taco Mac, though I didn’t take any notes. In the bottle, I remarked as follows:
Very Tasty "San Diego" IPA. Spicy resin hop nose, thick chewy caramel in the palate, then the resiny-piney hops hit you with lots of aroma and a long, dry, very bitter lingering finish. A very nice 7% IPA, had it on tap at Taco Mac last year as well. Spicy hop finish. Peppery hops in the palate. Lightly bready malt.
Port Wipe Out IPA doesn’t seem quite so hop forward as Green Flash IPA, but is perhaps more balanced, and a very tasty beer indeed. Port is from San Marcos, California, a suburb of San Diego, so they should know something about San Diego IPA too. Reasonable at $5.99 a bomber from Sherlock’s, too.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.