The IPA is craft beer’s most popular beer style. But within the India Pale Ale category lives a type of IPA that may REALLY be the nation’s reigning champion…
New England IPA
Possibly the hottest IPA variation in North America and growing exponentially in the UK and in Europe, the New England IPA evolved out of well, New England… And as many suggest The Alchemist who brewed the first of this style, the infamous Heady Topper.
Brewers in different parts of country seem to be adverse to referencing the style’s origins, opting for titles like the Hazy IPA or Juicy IPA. And it’s kind of amusing that many of those same brewers have no problem with using the West Coast IPA as a reference standard (and we don’t either).
Even the Boulder-based trade organization the Brewers Association seemed indecisive about which style name to choose when it updated its style guidelines in 2018, explaining that it was going with ‘Juicy or Hazy’ Ales to represent New England IPAs…But to simple we’ll be sticking with the New England IPA for the purpose of their article
The New England IPA Basics
One way to describe a New England IPA is that it’s everything you like from hops, all the flavors and aromas, but without the bitterness normally associated with an India Pale Ale…
And how do brewers pull that off? Actually, it’s really quite simple.
If you add the hops after you are done boiling, less of the bittering properties are extracted from the hops, but the process will extract the aromatic oils that you do want in there.
And when you add the hops at that later stage in the brewing process, a lot of its oils and proteins aren’t as thoroughly combined, giving the beer it’s very distinctive, cloudy appearance.
On top of that brewers make a lot of decisions to enforce this appearance including leaving the beer unfiltered and using adjuncts like oats, wheat, and sometimes rye.
Unfortunately, because of the unfiltered and unstable nature of New England IPAs, they tend to have a very low shelf life and usually require constant refrigeration.
And because of this, the most successful New England IPA’s are freshly canned and uber-local and as much as the bigger craft brewers would like to offer comparable products.
It’s hard to compete with breweries like The Alchemist whose Heady Topper sell out daily to the crowds of fans that travel to New Hampshire just to take whatever’s available back home.
Like much in craft beer the New England IPA style is far from static.
The New England IPA has already evolved into several different varieties from boozy Triple IPAs to the lactose infused Milkshake IPA (a whole separate article). But one thing’s for sure, this style (or sub-style as some purists argue) is definitely not going away any time soon…