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Focus on Imperial IPA


Style Focus on Imperial IPA


What makes an IPA imperial? Let’s discuss this hopped up brew and what it means to be imperial in the world of IPA. begin with, an IPA is an India Pale Ale, which is a hoppier version of a pale ale. When discussing the American IPA style (which is the majority of our product) you will notice distinct hop notes due to the predominant use of Northwestern Pacific hops. These hops lend floral, citrus, grapefruit, resinous and piney notes, as well as grassy and fruity notes at times.


The term “imperial” originated in the 19th century and referred to beer Britain shipped to the Russian Empire. Imperial stouts are one example of the use of this term. However, in America, the term evolved to designate the alcohol strength of a beer. In general, imperial beers are strong with imperial IPAs often made with twice the amount of hops and malts, which is why they are also called double IPAs instead of imperial IPAs.


The imperial IPA style is often very complex, with a huge hop aroma due to the prevalence of dry hopping in this category. Flavor-wise, hop bitterness is strong, although a hefty malt backbone is typically used to balance the beer while providing caramel and toasty flavor components. Some alcohol flavor is noticeable with the finish, which typically ends dry. Imperial IPAs tend to be golden amber to medium copper and have a medium-light to medium body. 


Although very hoppy and high in alcohol content, I’ve noticed many tasters who are not fans of a typical IPA will actually prefer imperial IPAs. My impression is that this is due to the strong malt background and the care many brewers put into creating balance in these heavy hitting brews by creating a balance between the ABV and IBU levels.


If after reading all of this you feel a bit thirsty here are a few suggestions for an Imperial IPA.



Sixpoint Brewing Resin

9.1% ABV 103 IBU


Oskar Blues Brewery Gubna

10% ABV 100 IBU


Blue Point Brewing No Apologies

10% ABV 93 IBU


New Belgium Rampant

8.5% ABV 85 IBU

Arcadia Ales Hop Rocket

9% ABV 111 IBU  

High End Trade Show Recap


High End Trade Show Recap


This week went by in a whirlwind of great beer, amazing people and fun times!  West Side Beer celebrated our many craft beer and high-end beer brands with our customers in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo.


It was a great opportunity for everyone to join together and discuss a shared interest and one of my favorite topics: beer. A huge part of our trade shows includes a beer education component at the very beginning. This year, we lucked out and had John from New Belgium Brewing lead the beer education lecture with a beer sensory presentation. Watching people’s first retronasal experience made my day. Then, our sale representatives discussed a few topics that are growing and are trending pretty hot lately. Craft beer in a can and the growing rise of the hard cider category took main stage, which made sense since in Grand Rapids alone West Side brands include over 40 different craft beers in a can and the cider market grew over 70 percent in Michigan.


I also presented during the beer education class and talked about the importance of social media as a way to connect beer consumer to buy seller (be that a brewery, distributor or wholesaler) and the importance of recognizing women as a growing and important demographic for craft beer consumption. After beer school and during the beer tastings multiple people came over to say how excited they were that we were able to provide more information and discuss these trends in craft beer.


The beer tasting portion ended up being a ball, with a laid back setting with great musical entertainment and a ton of food. But beyond that, I appreciated being able to reconnect and acquaint myself with so many fellow beer lovers who comprise of our Michigan craft beer community. I, and everyone at West Side Beer, is so very thankful for the wonderful turnout we had at each event and the great experience the High End Trade Show provided us all. Exciting times are ahead and we’re very happy to have already shared so many with our community.




P.S. Check out our photo albums on Facebook for some visuals of each tradeshow. 

Kalamazoo High End Trade Show

Grand Rapids High End Trade Show

Lansing High End Trade Show 

Sriracha: Beer and Food Pairing


Beer and Food Pairing: Sriracha

Although Sriracha pretty much goes great with any dish, it takes a certain type of beer to pair well with the hot sauce.  The Thai condiment, Sriracha, is known for making grown men cry and adding awesome heat to a wide variety of dishes.

To begin deciding on the best beer pairing, let’s take a look at what comprises the sauce. Sriracha is a combination of red chili pepper paste, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. Typically found in the iconic green-tipped bottle and bright red in color, Sriracha adds a tangy heat to any dish when it added.

Following the general guidelines for beer and food pairings, spicy food should not be paired with strong dark beers, since the palate will be overwhelmed by spice and not able to recognize all of the beer flavors. Rather, pair with a clean and crisp pilsner or lager to refresh and clean the palate in between bites or choose an IPA with bitter hop notes that enhance the spiciness.

Suggested Sriracha Beer Pairings

Stone Ruination IPA 7.7% ABV 100+ IBU

You can’t get much hoppier than Stone’s Ruination. If you want to completely obliterate your palate douse some food in Sriracha then toss back a pint of this.  

Frankenmuth Pilsener 5.25% ABV 26 IBU

Following the traditional German purity law by using only malted barley, water, German hops and German lager yeast, this pilsener is perfect in its simplicity.

Sam Adams Boston Lager 4.9% ABV 30 IBU

There’s a reason Boston Lager is credited for helping jump start the craft beer revolution. Balanced and full of flavor with a crisp ending.  

3 Beers to Warm Up To


3 Beers to Warm Up To


Back home a lot of friends are enjoying a snow day, thanks to the lovely Spring weather we are having. Although it may not be snowing here in the Lower Peninsula, the rain and cold are still rather unpleasant. To warm up the day I propose finding your own ray of sunshine to drink today while hiding from any oncoming thunderstorms or cold onslaughts.


Magic Hat #9

My first experience with Magic Hat #9 occurred during a hellish week that included work, final exams and moving to a new apartment. While packing up the remaining goods my eyes spied a Magic Hat #9 for the first time. I sipped on it and although I didn’t suddenly enjoy cleaning my house that night, #9 definitely brightened up the evening for me.

Sixpoint Sweet Action

I like sweets and things full of action so no wonder Sweet Action is a go to beer, but is especially made for days like this. While the rest of your body is trapped feeling damp, cold and all around unpleasant a bit of Sweet Action in your mouth allows your tastebuds and mind to enjoy a break. Sweet Action is a combination of pale, wheat and cream ales that combine to create a highly drinkable and delicious brew that may even give hope of brighter days ahead.

Pyramid Weiss Cream

A new option available on draft only, this beer combines two of my favorite things; beer and ice cream. A wheat ale brewed with spices, bitter orange peel and vanilla then nitrogenated, it is super smooth. The ending result is that it tastes like a creamsicle in liquid form, except for this version you don’t have to run down the ice cream truck to get it. Also, anything that reminds me of a creamsicle reminds me of happier, warmer days.

Now, put on a little bit of Beach Boys, crack open a beer, close your eyes and pretend that the sun is shining.

Repeal of Prohibition anniversary


Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Legal Booze in Michigan

Michigan became the first state to repeal prohibition in 1932

Booze always has been a booming business for Michigan. During the days of prohibition an
estimated 75 percent of the nation’s booze originated from Detroit, channeling it from Canada to thirsty Americans across the nation.

 Part of the push for prohibition repeal came from Michigan’s law known as “a pint for a life,” where anyone caught with alcohol on their person and with three previous felonies automatically received a life sentence. In addition, the Great Depression threw Michigan into the throes of unemployment and financial crisis making alcohol tax revenue especially appealing. All of these reasons combined to lead to a vote to ratify the 21st Amendment that was described as 99 percent pure since out 100 votes only one went against the ratification.

In celebration, here are a few quotes on prohibition and Michigan’s thirst for boozy liberty.

“So, we have decided to give up prohibition. We have decided to try personal liberty once more, the personal liberty we had before prohibition.”-  Michigan governor, William Comstock

“Prohibition only drives drunkenness behind doors and into dark places and does not cure it or even diminish it.” –
Mark Twain

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.” –
Al Capone


Now go celebrate your right to drink with a beer!

Beer Consumer


Who is Today’s Beer Consumer?


The craft trend continues to gain strength within the beer industry. As the industry changes then the beer consumer does, as well. Who is the beer consumer now with new and different tastes?


There are now new facts out there to lend a better understanding of the beer consumer and what characteristics comprise the new drinking trends. Here are some facts on the beer consumer courtesy of In the Capital.



71.9% of craft beer consumers are male while 28.1% are female, although with more and more young women turning to craft beer this statistic is changing.



Millenials account for 32.9% of the craft beer consumer while Generation X accounts for another 23.9% and the Baby Boomers add another 34.6% of the beer drinkers.



Why drink beer? There are a lot of reasons for consumers to decide on a certain craft brand but here are the most popular reasons for drinking craft beer.

Craft drinkers said 56% of the time they chose craft to experiment with flavors while 46% of the time it is because of seasonal beer. In addition, 46% of the time craft is chosen because it tastes better. Aside from flavor, craft is chosen 36% of the time because it is considered a treat.


With so many statistics out there about the craft beer drinker it is hard to assemble a set picture. What it comes down to, though, is that the craft beer drinker is or should be everyone. There is a style out there to match each individual preference. The issue isn’t whether or not someone is a beer drinker or a craft drinker it is about what they are searching for. More than likely, beer will have the answer, one way or the other. 

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Featured Beer

Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer

Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer


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