If the 21st century has added a single important beer style to the brewer’s repertoire, it is the “New England”, “Vermont”, “East Coast” or “hazy” IPA.
The Black IPA is an acquired taste and more a mish-mash than a definite style of its own. The Brut IPA surely has its origins in a contamination error and does not deserve to survive. But the “NEIPA” has not only established itself but, at times, threatened to overwhelm the craft-beer scene entirely.
It is also the style that has evolved most radically over the course of its young life. The original example is often held to be Heady Topper, by Vermont-based family brewer, The Alchemist. I got to taste this for the first time at the 2018 Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen, and these were my thoughts:
“I was surprised at how boozy and bitter it was. While certainly more aromatic than an old-style US IPA, it now seems much closer to those old classics than to its juicy, opaque descendants – which is testament to how far and how fast the beer world has embraced the extremes of dry-hopping.”
I was reminded of that experience recently, when I tasted a beer called Amarillo by Burnt Mill Brewery. This styled itself as a West-Coast IPA, but I believe that, had it been brewed three or four years ago, its moderate bitterness and highly aromatic character would have seen it marked out as an example of the newer, NEIPA style.
My first attempt to brew in this style was “Equinox”, in March 2019, and I consciously aimed for this older iteration of the style, balanced between bitterness and fruity aromatics, rather than the outright juiciness of the more modern versions. It was a flavoursome beer, but ultimately a failed attempt at the style because I skimped a little on the dry-hopping and the high-protein grains in the mash—and also because I was too timid to leave out the Irish moss finings from the boil.
My next hop-forward beer was the first in a series of simple, single-hop brews: “Mosaic”. Again, this was a great-tasting beer but not a NEIPA. It also taught me to be cautious about letting Mosaic be the lead hop in an aromatic brew—its flavours can be unpredictable and unusual.
My first concerted effort to create a NEIPA had to wait until this year, then, and a beer I called “When Galaxies Colloid!” This was a playful reference to the ever-popular hop varietal deployed for both bitterness, aromatics and dry-hopping, as well as the “colloidal haze” formed by the binding of grain proteins and hop polyphenols that is such a signature of the style.
Here, my recipe did not hold back. The result was a wonderfully juicy explosion of passion fruit aromatics against a robust body, with a good amount of alpha-acid bitterness to give the beer an old-style, grown-up roundness of flavour.
“When Galaxies Colloid!” (February 2020)
In the mash:
- 3.0kg of Maris Otter malt
- 200g of Crystal 100 malt
- 500g of Flaked Wheat
- 200g Oats
- 60 minutes of rest
In the boil:
- 50g of Galaxy hops for 60 mins
- 25g of Galaxy hops for 30 mins
- 15g of Galaxy hops for 10 mins
- 10g of Galaxy hops for 5 mins
- 60 minute boil
Fermented with Wyeast Laboratories 1272 “American Ale II”
Dry hopped with 70g Galaxy hops for four days of an 11-day primary fermentation
Starting Gravity: 1.044 / 11° Plato
Finishing Gravity: 1.010