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The IPA is evolving. Since Boston Beer Company’s launch in 1984, the India Pale Ale has taken on many iterations. The original pioneers of the style as we know it in this country were largely on the West Coast. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is technically not an IPA, but that beer and IPAs from Stone Brewing Co. and Lagunitas Brewing Co. set the standard of brews where bitter, earthy hop character was balanced by a heavy malt content.
Recently, up in Vermont, brewers like John Kimmich (The Alchemist), Shaun Hill (Hill Farmstead), and Sean Lawson (Lawson’s Finest Liquids) have started something of their own IPA revolution, helping to loosely create the category of “East Coast IPAs”. While these beers can be as bitter as their counterparts out west, they’re generally less so, focusing on aromatics and perceived bitterness rather than actual pucker-factor. These brews are heavily dry-hopped and lighter on the palate, forgoing malt sweetness for levity in the quest for balance. Since trekking up to ski country to try brews like the Alchemist’s Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead’s Edward (technically a pale ale) last summer, it’s a style I can’t seem to get enough of.