Embrace the Haze: Tips on Brewing NEIPAs
In the world of craft beer it’s rather uncommon to have a particular beer style to be divisive and polarizing. There are numerous generally accepted styles, countless takes and variations of them, with thousands upon thousands of beers enjoyed by people, who generally consent on the principle “to each their own”. Whether you’re a fan of Belgian Golden Ales, hop-driven IPAs, roasted Stouts, or complex Lambics, you will always find a beer to like and people who will either share your love for that beer or say it’s not their cup of tea (or pint of ale, to be more exact). But over the last couple of years things have changed dramatically with the emergence of the new sub-style of IPA: New England India Pale Ale.
Also dubbed as North Eastern IPA or Vermont IPA, NEIPAs have first appeared in the North Eastern region of the USA a couple of years ago and have rapidly polarized the craft beer community. Notorious for their very hazy appearance (which many drinkers and brewers tend to label as outright unattractive) and a totally unique hop flavour and aroma profile, New England IPAs are true hop bombs that rely strongly on the newer fruit-forward hop varieties such as Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic, and the likes, and the process of yeast biotransformation that reportedly produces a whole set of aromatic compounds with the addition of aforementioned hops.
Often featuring the consistency and texture of orange juice, very low bitterness, and very pronounced hop aroma, this sub-style has gained both raging fans and people who dub it as a stupid gimmick. But regardless of the camp, with so many breweries hopping on the hazy bandwagon it’s clear that the NEIPA is here to stay, at least for some time. And it’s only natural that homebrewers all over the world are attempting to reproduce the unique texture and flavour profile of some of the most notable progenitors of the new sub-style coming from breweries such as The Alchemist, Tired Hands, Hill Farmstead, Trillium, and Tree House.
If you’re willing to recreate the unique sensory profile of the hazy North Eastern IPAs coming from the aforementioned breweries, which have been classified by the BJCP 2015 edition as 21B Specialty IPA, here are some tips on how to do it right coming from various brewers who have pioneered the style:
- Opt for really fruit-forward hop varieties, such as Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, and similar
- Minimize or completely eliminate early kettle hop additions, moving the bulk of hops to either flameout or whirlpool
- Use an yeast strain that is known to produce mild, “British” esters - White Labs WLP095 (Burlington Ale) and Wyeast 1318 (London III) are particularly popular
- Dry-hop at high Krausean or towards the end of primary fermentation to facilitate hop biotransformation by yeast
- Target a water profile with high chloride to sulfate ratio (180/75 ppm and higher) to emphasize hop flavour
Now, there’s also a rather controversial aspect of adding wheat flour, flaked oats, or even apple puree to facilitate the famous hazy appearance and thick, chewy texture NEIPAs are known for. And some of the professional brewers, who’ve been at the origin of the style have actually admitted using these ingredients in their recipes. However, we didn’t include this practice to the list of tips above because other brewers clearly state that the same results can be achieved without using any adjuncts. Whether to go with this practice or not is up to you to decide, because, after all, it’s your beer and you can add anything you deem necessary to it.
Hopefully, these tips will come in handy for those of you who want to replicate the unique flavour profile that made NEIPAs so popular. Some of them may pose a bit of technical challenge, as even some commercial brewers can’t hit the target profile at their first try. But it’s definitely a style that can be fun and very rewarding to brew, and more so to drink.
Have you made a NEIPA? If so send us a picture so we may show others what this ale looks like.