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It's all American and all IPA today, visiting a couple of well established breweries in California and Colorado.

We start at Bear Republic, and something that looks like a flagship though I had never seen it before: Bear Republic IPA. That said, the description mentions combining "the new IPA aesthetic with West Coast tradition" so I guess it's a recent addition to the range. It's 6% ABV and a translucent shade of orange, an appearance which does indeed suggest a middle ground between east and west. The aroma is all the latter, though: piney, with a sweeter toffee side. You do get a little juice in the flavour; a rush of tangerine right at the front, but which gives way quickly to the pine and toffee once more. It works, though. There's the full old-fashioned west-coast kick, bitter hops and sweet malt whooping it up together, and then the juice adds a nuanced complexity, smoothing out the harsh edges and making it generally easier to drink. This is west coast with training wheels; loud but calm. I enjoyed the effect, and that it only cost me €2.50.

Back in May I complained that Firestone Walker hadn't numbered the 17th Luponic Distortion. Luckily they hang on my every word and Luponic Distortion 18 has the number, faintly, on the can. As usual it's 5.9% ABV and this one seems a little paler than what went before. I thought it a bit plain at first: sugary malt and little else. It takes a second or two for the luponics to kick in. It's a green and weedy resinous quality, calling to mind nettles and rocket. This is very much a west coast vibe, squeaky clean and bitingly bitter under that initial sweetness. One for the purists, I think. If you reckon American IPAs have turned too fruity, this'll give you the appropriate grade of 1990s pucker.

We're off to Colorado for the next pair, and Left Hand Brewing, starting on Wook Bait. It's an IPA of 6% ABV brewed with Lotus, Galaxy and Azacca hops, though to a very modest 37 international bitterness units. For all that oomph it's a bit wan and watery-looking in the glass, a witbier-like hazy yellow. Despite it being a mountain brewery, I thought it was going east coast here, but it's no soft and fluffy juicer but actually quite malt based, with a core of sweet caramel only mildly troubled by Lilty tropicals. You get more of that grapefruit and pineapple in the aroma and a tiny bit in the aftertaste but otherwise it's toffee all the way. I checked the date and this should be good for another couple of months but I can't help thinking there were some fragile hop volatiles here which have disintegrated on the journey eastwards. Not what I want from an American IPA, regardless.

That had me slightly worried about the Found Fortune to come. This is a double IPA, 8.7% ABV and the shiny orange of classic American DIPA, the sort that tastes of slab toffee with chunks of lime peel studded through it. It's not quite one of those, though it's adjacent. The flavours are much more smoothly integrated in this one. It is hot though: a warmth with an almost coffee-like roast quality; wholesome and comforting. The hops add a sharp twist of orange peel and dandelion to this; a seasoning rather than the principal characteristic. Again, the hop enthusiast will be disappointed, and I was a little miffed by its lack of wallop, but there's a good beer here, one to be treated more as a sippable barley wine than a hopped up party animal.

And that concludes our journey. Some decent beers, I'll grant you, but Left Hand in particular left me wanting for that hop blast I look to '90s-vintage American breweries for. I don't think I can blame the haze craze so maybe I'll just blame the distance.