BridgePort IPA was released in 1996, which doesn't exactly place it at the front of the hoppy American ale line. In 1996, I was already a hophead, and I got my fix through assorted offerings, the majority of which were not called "IPA." But as I sat in the Gypsy across from Cinema 21 killing time before a show 18 years ago, I first encountered the flavor of the future. Bitterness would soon become the rage, and an "arms race" followed, each beer more violent than the last.
BridgePort, though, foresaw the post-war period, when bitterness would give way to a different kind of intensity made of saturated flavors and aromas. Hopping has now moved down the line, from the front of the boil to the end and after, in the conditioning tank. (Sometimes breweries now skip the front of the boil altogether.) I don't know that we can draw a direct line of causality directly backward from beers like Boneyard RPM all the way to NW Marshall, but BridgePort IPA was indeed the earliest example of these contemporary hoppy ales in the Pacific Northwest.
Last week, the man who first brewed that beer talked about it. Appropriately, he's not from around here. Sometimes it takes an immigrant to point out to locals what they have right in front of them. Here's Australian brewer Phil Sexton describing his inspiration for BridgePort IPA.