Heading West to the End of the World
We're finally releasing 80 West.
That feels good to actually type. It's been a trip with some interesting detours getting to this point.
I wanted to open Twin Span with 80 West almost 2 years ago. I had all the material, the grain was milled and in the hopper, hops and yeast were on hand, and on brew day, the world ended.
The world as we knew it at least. That was the day the US government admitted that this pandemic was a real problem, and everything screeched to a halt. Twin Span wasn't open yet, but I already had beer in fermenters and grain milled. We had to push our open date back an unknown amount of time. Beer - especially fresh hoppy IPAs don't like waiting around for unknown amounts of time. So I made the call to reduce the amount of beer made, which would drive up the ABV and make it age better. I moved some hops around in the schedule to accommodate the new beefier malt profile. It was going to be an Imperial IPA (or Strong Ale, or Hoppy Barleywine depending on who you asked) at almost 10% ABV.
Its name changed to "80 North" to denote the change in plans and quirky nature. Local travels know that i80 runs east-west, except where it briefly runs north-south a stone's throw from our brewery. The beer was very well received (and it'll return at some point for sure).
I still wanted to brew a true West Coast IPA, but figured it would be too samey to have a smaller version of 80 North on tap at the same time, so I waited, and brewed a few 80 Easts (New England / Hazy / East Coast IPAs). They were also well received.
My partners kept asking when I'd brew 80 West. Eventually, I decided the time was right. I milled all the grain, got the water ready, went to get the hops ready and... the hops weren't there. I thought they had been received, but they were on back order. I couldn't really un-mill the grain - and I didn't want to dump all of the water, so I had to pivot quick. I took inventory of the hops I did have - they were all excellent German lager hops - and I had a bunch of German lager yeast - so I thought I'd give an IPL (India Pale Lager) a shot. After consulting a random word generator online, Tragedy Salad was born.
I'm not a superstitious man, but at this point, I was pretty sure 80 West was cursed. I was still asked to brew it, but I didn't dare admit to the Universe that I intended to do so. So I waited. I waited long enough that West Coast IPAs started to come back into fashion, albeit slightly modified for modern tastes. Gone were the copper, almost amber hues with aggressive biting bitterness, replaced with pale malt and a gentler hop bite. The style had morphed into something that straddled the line between old school West and the hazy Easts that had taken over the world.
During a family vacation on the west coast - specifically San Diego - I "researched" many new interpretations of this new West Coast IPA that a few have dubbed "San Diego style IPA". They all followed the pattern of a grist almost entirely of pale or even pils malt, some even including sugar to lighten the color and body even more. All had assertive but not aggressive bitterness with a soft mouthfeel. All packed a hop punch on par with the haze bombs everyone loves - although these typically are a blend of the piney/dank hops that dominated the style in the distant past, and newer, tropical fruit punch notes everyone has expected these past few years.
I developed the recipe for my interpretation of this style in my head during the vacation and when I returned home, I wrote it down. In the blank for recipe name, I hesitated, but dubbed it "80 West".
The recipe, the style, and the world had changed greatly from where I started, but I finally got to 80 West. Cheers.