THE CULT OF CLOUDY: Hoppy’s Favorite New Trend in the IPA World
I don’t call myself “Hoppy” for no reason—Malty can attest to the fact that whenever we’re beer-tasting together, I’m usually seeking out whatever is double, or even triple hopped, because I can’t get enough of that citrusy, dank, sprucey, grassy, juicy, punchy magic that’s a really well-crafted IPA.
I grew up on the east coast, so imagine my surprise when I started seeing the latest beer trend in the IPA world out here in California—the NEIPA (North East-Style IPA), also known as a: Juicy IPA, Cloudy IPA, or even New England-Style IPA.
Emma Janzen of Imbibe Magazine defines an NEIPA thusly in her recent article, “Defining the Northeastern-Style IPA”:
“…the Northeast IPA often has a juicy, tropical aroma and flavor that comes from the use of English yeasts and hop breeds like Citra and Mosaic. Northeast IPAs also tend to have a softer mouthfeel thanks to the sulfite-low East Coast water and the use of oats and wheat in the mashbill. And instead of that classic IPA bite, these beers are often less bitter and have a hazy appearance if they’re partially or wholly unfiltered.”
And she’s right—what you get is almost a higher existence of a beer the way a truly unique sour or barrel-aged beauty can be. But don’t put your NEIPA on a shelf…latest beer trends are also moving away from aging or “laying down” your beers—drinking fresh is in.
Most astonishing still, this trend has literally blown up on the west coast just over the past 6 months, my first encounter being when I tried the luscious “Hazy Day IPA” special release at Route 30 Brewing Company in Riverside, California. Are people just growing tired of a typical West Coast IPA? It might seem so, because this beer was unlike anything on the California circuit that I was currently drinking—there was an intense burst of fruit-forward flavor, almost like drinking a tall glass of chilled, white grapefruit juice. With lower carbonation and a rich, completely cloudy glow, this beer delighted my senses and my taste buds rather than giving me a piney smack in the face. Therefore, a pro-tip for IPA-squeamish beer drinkers—start with these juicy little NEIPA numbers as your gateway beer of choice.
This beer was stunningly fresh, and rooty, tooty, fresh and fruity without being overtly sour or bitter.
“No one would even think it was weird if I drank this for breakfast!” I remember reasoning.
But that’s when I realized, I’ve had this kind of beer before…and yup, you guessed it, it was when I was home in Maine 3 years ago.
At the time, I had gone with my dad on a tour of the famed Allagash Brewing Company in Portland and Allagash just happens to share a parking lot with the tiny, family-run brewery that is Bissell Brothers Brewing. While we were there, we tried what I later recognized as a particularly choice NEIPA (also the brewery’s flagship beer), called “The Substance Ale”. This golden, cloudy, grapefruity liquid magic haunted me (in a good way) for years until I finally had my “ah-hah”! moment at Route 30. Though I haven’t been back to Maine recently, boy would I love to, just so I could get my hands around a pint glass of The Substance again. For now, though, I’ll keep waiting and hoping that Bissell Brothers starts distributing to the west coast sometime soon (hint, hint). Read more about them in this great article in Beer Advocate!
And if you’re also west-coaster pining for some seriously delicious NEIPA action in this part of the country, check out some of my favorite breweries on the cloudy and juicy bandwagon—ENJOY!
GREAT NOTION BREWING (Portland, OR):
I recommend Juice Box (Imperial/Double IPA) first and foremost…while not a TRUE NEIPA, this beer is juicy and creamy right along with the best of them, featuring bright and pungent hopping, and rich, succulent flavors of passion fruit and mango—too easy to slurp down with a straw like its playground-appropriate namesake! And second on my list would be the 3-Way IPA (NEIPA)—so unfiltered, so smooth, and so unapologetically fruity while boasting QUADRUPLE hopping. Wow.
FOUR SONS BREWING (Huntington Beach, CA):
I recently tried the special release of Double Rambo (Hazy Pale Ale) from Four Sons, and again, while this isn’t “technically” a NEIPA, it sure drinks like one. So refreshing on a hot summer day, this is slightly lighter in character than other NEIPA’s I’ve had, so it’s even more juice-like. Almost opaque in color, it’s a beautiful golden and citrusy dream.
BOTTLE LOGIC BREWING (Anaheim, CA):
I’d like to point out that Bottle Logic has been delighting me lately with their special Konami Code Hazy IPA can series which came out after this year’s Week of Logic beer event (more to come on this event in a future blog post!). The whole theme of these beers is to celebrate classic video game culture, and their UP UP IPA and DOWN DOWN IPA do not disappoint. I was lucky enough to get these beers during their limited can releases, but if you ever see them again, be sure to try them! Both versions are so bright and fruity, almost thick in their creaminess, and, as the cans suggest, delicious with both Mexican food or pizza rolls!