There’s a new beer style in town, and it’s taking the nation by storm. Yup, we’re talking New England IPAs. While some would say this style has overtaken the almighty West Coast IPA, we think there’s enough room in the IPA pool for everyone. It’s been incredible to see how this relatively unknown style has exploded in popularity in the past year. Nowadays it seems every brewery across the country is taking a stab at this style. So, what exactly is it about these beers that are making beer drinkers wild? It all starts with the hops.
New England IPAs are known for their soft mouthfeel and juicy, tropical hop flavors with very little to no bitterness. Brewers aim to extract all the tropical and fruity flavors from the hop, without the harsh bitterness, hence why these beers are commonly referred to as “juice bombs.” Brewers achieve this profile by not adding hops during the boil, and instead adding them during the whirlpool and several dry-hop additions. The type of hop used is also key. This style of beer primarily uses fruit-forward hops like Citra, Mosaic, El Dorado and Galaxy, as opposed to the traditional “C” varieties (Cascade, Centennial, Colombus and Chinook) found in classic West Coast IPAs. Now, that’s not to say these hops are not used in New England IPAs, but they are not as fruit forward and instead tend to be piney/resinous.
This leads us to the second hallmark of the style: its hazy appearance. New England IPAs are regularly unfiltered and heavily dry-hopped to the point where the beer begins to get hazy. The specific yeast strains used in these beers also help accentuate the tropical flavors from the hops, and they give these beers their trademark murkiness. While many IPAs are brewed with the relatively “clean” California Ale yeast (which imparts no flavor to the beer and clears up nicely), New England IPAs often use a British strain that does not flocculate out as well. In simpler terms, instead of the yeast dropping out after fermentation, it tends to stay in solution, and therefore leaves the beer hazy and accentuates the fruitiness more.
Despite the haze craze consuming the nation, New England-style IPAs are not yet recognized as an official style at beer competitions.
One to Taste
North Island IPA – 7.5% ABV/65 IBU
This New England-style IPA is bursting with ripe, tropical juiciness. British ale yeast accentuates the hop fruitiness and gives this unfiltered beer a dense, foggy haze like the coastal marine layer swallowing the north side of our island. Enjoy North Island while you can—this beer is available in 6-pack cans and on draft through April.