Skip to main content

New Adventures In Taxonomy: Hazy or Juicy IPAs

The New England IPA is officially a thing.  The Brewers Association recently released their 2018 Style Guidelines and included three new categories capturing New England's great gift to tap room trends: the Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale, IPA, or Double IPA.  Yes, a full 30% of the association's 10 categories of Pale or India Pale Ales attempt to describe the darling of Instagraming craft drinkers by binning them by relative strength.

 
Old Nation's M-43: a New England IPA brewed in Michigan

These beers are startlingly photogenic. And offer an easily accessible flavor palate for a hop forward beer.  Aroma is the key.  Dry hopping, and late additions are used to craft a bouquet of fruit flavors without imparting too much bitterness.  The beers are actually quiet sweet - with a clean malt bill, and unfermentable sugars from lactose or hazy adjuncts like oats and wheat.

One of the great ironies of the style is that its noted progenitor, Heady Topper, from the Alchemist is packaged in cans advising drinkers against pouring the beer into a glass or other transparent vessel.  Such turbidity was long seen as a flaw in anything other than a German wheat beer.  Of course, neither the awkward instructions or appearance of this beer stopped it from being oppressively popular.   In fact, it's limited distribution and frankly stability probably contributed to the cachet. 

There is no dispute that New England IPAs are best fresh.  Their delicate aromas fade and fall out of balance in a matter of days or weeks.   A drinker with a not especially old can of a hard to find beer is left with an intentionally unremarkable malt bill and a definite sense that something is missing.  The best way to consume and procure these beers is at the source, where freshness is assumed if not assured.  


The Brewhouse that New England IPA Built at Tree House 
The growth of the style is coincident with the explosion of brewery Tap room culture in New England.  (Yes, it's lagged a bit here).  Even routine releases of flagship New England IPAs became events.  Small towns in Vermont were mobbed by devotees waiting for cans.  The scene repeated in brewery parking lots in Western Massachusetts and suburban Boston.  To paraphrase Field of Dreams, if you brew it, they will come.

Last year, Tree House Brewing opened their 3rd brewery after out growing each of the prior two without making any serious efforts at distribution.  Drinkers from New York and Boston would make to road trip to Monson, MA, park in a field, and pay full retail prices of $3-4 a can to get the latest.   It wasn't long before it seemed that every tap room from Canton to Chelsea had a New England IPA or two to draw foot traffic.  The style has spread.  Even Microbrewers in Italy are having a go, and a success with hazy, hoppy, sweet beers.  
Image may contain: makeup
Tap Handle Label from Caserta, Italy's SpilAle

Some of the craft beer industry's most articulate statesmen, like Garret Oliver, have labeled NE IPA a fad.  It may be.  And much like bell-bottoms, deserve to been seen as a style unto itself. 

So, good on the Brewers Association for decoupling the sweet from the bitter in their style guidelines, and competitions.  These are completely different flavor profiles and different beers.  The NE IPA is a product of on-premise engagement between the brewery and consumer.  It's fresh and fun.  It makes for a great day in the sun.  However, it has nothing to due with the historic India Pale Ales brewed in England's midlands for shipment by boat to India.  Consumption of fresh IPA was almost unimaginable.  Today it's a necessity for some.  

Comments

Greatest Hits

Holiday Gift Ideas for The Beer Lover

The gift of beer itself may seem obvious, but it is fraught with pitfalls. Especially if the gift giver is not as knowledgeable, experienced, or perhaps as jaded as the intended recipient. Craft beer lovers tend to have promiscuous taste buds. They crave new and exciting, and occasionally hard to find beers. How can anyone hope to keep track of another person's sense of new. You may have an advantage if you live a few states away and distribution agreements give you unique access to a hot new Nano, or even a New Belgium scale microbrewery. That's a great in if you have a little guidance. A beer lover that's a bit of a hoarder may enjoy an annual gift of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, or Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for their cellar. However, the safest bet for a beer gift is t he somewhat corny Beer of the Month Club.
Has the beer lover on your list has neglected to drop any good hints for gift ideas? Are you looking to surprise? Here are some ideas to consider.

Gi…

Beer Destinations: Prague

Beneath a fairy tale skyline of spires, domes, and towers, a modern city of industry and commerce sits upon cobblestone streets and ancient bridges.Prague is a maddening riddle.Brilliant minds like Franz Kafka and Bohumil Hrabal relied upon surrealistic visions to make sense of it.Despite the city’s complex and frankly tumultuous history, there’s a millennia of brilliantly preserved architecture, miraculously spared the devastation of fire, war, and tasteless modernizations that have continuously reshaped many European cities.

Located between the noble hop fields of Žatec (Saaz in German) and Moravia’s cascading barley fields, Prague is within easy reach of the ingredients to needed to sustain a vital brewing scene. However, the city was not spared the 20th century’s assault on local beer culture.In the early 1990s, international breweries monopolized the city’s tap handles.Brewpubs were mostly forgotten, a novelty for tourists, at best. This Prague earned a reputation for drinking hol…

Centrifuges in Brewing

I clicked into a link to catch up activities at local brewery Jack's Abby, and was surprised by one of the ads on the site.  A Westfalia centrifuge?  Did clever ad AI figure out that I was a little interested in quoting a pilot unit for work?  Nope.  This ad was sold directly to the site.

It just seemed wildly out of place on a Craft Beer and Brewery website There's a lot of respect for tradition among craft brewers, and frankly not many large scale breweries where this type of equipment makes financial sense.  The captains of industry the defined so many styles in the Victorian era never would have imagined the insanity that is a continuous flow disc stack centrifuge.  I can barely comprehend it despite having worked with them for six years.  GEA Westfalia's video on Separation technology is fairly instructive, even if the music makes me giggle.

That's not to say centrifuges have no place in brewing.  They are nice pieces of equipment, and offer brewers a clarification…