The haze craze has hit Holland. If you are an avid beer fan, it can’t have gone unnoticed: the New England India Pale Ale. It’s popping up in bars and on beer labels everywhere. I think Uiltje, Braaf Brewery and Kees were one of the first, but also Brouwerij Berging and Noordt have tried their hand at brewing this colorful, juice-like beer. But isn’t IPA already a style? Or does the name just announce where it’s from, like ‘West Coast IPA’? Has the craft beer revolution invented something new? In my mission to learn everything about beer, I dug into the internet to find out.
The rise of the New England IPA
We are familiar with the modern IPA, as revolutionized the past decades in the United States. The West Coast IPA is a veritable ‘hops blast’, which in this particular beer style usually signifies a high bitterness in flavor, not always to everyone’s liking. American hops (especially the Three Cs – Cascade, Centennial, Columbus) is known to give its IPAs a strong, citrusy and sometimes piney taste. On the other side of the country they have been experimenting with different IPA recipes for a while and it has caught on. The New England 1 IPA is a hazy, colorful, fruity beer, just as hoppy, but less bitter. (Say what? Bitterness is not the same as hoppiness? That will be the topic of my next blog, so stay tuned for that.)
Beer not being a science (luckily for most us!), opinions differ almost on everything to do with NEIPA. For example, who was the first to brew it? The majority of articles agree that it began with Heady Topper, the cult beer brewed by The Alchemist in Vermont. Although they probably did not intend to create a new ‘style‘, the popularity of the beer and its fruity, softer taste has led to brewers copying the beer and giving rise to NEIPA. Notable brewers are for example Tree House, Trillium, Hill Farmstead, Weldwerks, Mikkeller and Brewdog.
Some think it is meant to be an anti-IPA. In an interview with Imbibe magazine, Night Shift head brewer Joe Mashburn says:
“It’s not really a response to the West Coast IPA. The style is different in many ways. California dominated the category for so long, so it’s nice to see New England being put on the map by good IPA producers.”
There is also some debate about what it should be named. Seeing that the story goes it originated in Vermont, some feel it should be called Vermont IPA. Others claim it is a Nebraska IPA or call it the Northeastern style IPA. Officially it isn’t even its own style (yet), but classified as an American IPA according to BJCP guidelines. That may change if the NEIPA is indeed here to stay. I’ll leave it to the experts to figure that out.
Why is New England IPA a hazy beer?
Contrary to the American IPAs we’re used to, the NEIPA generally has a golden or orange color, creamy mouthfeel and lovely tropical fruit flavor.
It is just as hoppy as other IPAs, but smoother in taste and often more fruity, making it less bitter and also less dry at the finish. It is unfiltered and vigorously dry-hopped, giving it a hazy appearance. The haze can also be caused by the English yeast used, or the high protein grains (like flaky oats). Even the brewers are not a hundred percent sure. What they can agree on is that the hazy color is a byproduct of the brewing process and is not the main objective. It is still all about the flavor and aromas. Because it is unfiltered and unpasteurized, it’s meant to be drunk as fresh as possible.
Don’t worry if you have missed the start of the haze craze here in Holland. It really is new. The first Dutch NEIPAs just came out this spring. So far I’ve only tried Uiltje and Noordt, and they are both excellent. The Dutch NEIPAs currently available are:
- Berging Brouwerij – Stijl New England IPA
- Braaf Brewery (collab with Natte Gijt) – Brave Gijt New England IPA
- Kees – NEIPA New England IPA
- Noordt – New England Session IPA (contains lactose)
- Uiltje – The Juice was worth the squeeze New England IPA
Hopefully more brewers will follow!