Six Pack: New England IPAs

What exactly is the hazy beer du jour, and why is it so popular

Original Gravity

So where did the New England IPA, this IPA sub-style, this non-style even, this hybrid of hops, this fantastic beast straight out of Narnia (or should we think Gormenghast, but please read on), this virtuous paragon of haze and hoppiness come? New England, as the name suggests, could be the home though as is often the case with beer, self-proclaimed historians might suggest that the style’s origins are cloaked in mystery with more claims than an office full of ambulance-chasing lawyers.

However, for the sake of pity and peace, let’s settle on The Alchemist’s Heady Topper as the ur-beer, the one that went on before everything else and started yet another path down which IPA can meander.

And now, when we think of a New England IPA, we have a variety of beers beneath this name, being brewed in the USA, the UK and — as I discovered on recent visit to Germany — Berlin. Turbid, milky, burnt orange in colour and it also seems a beer to make anger rise to the surface as if the devil was abroad. ‘They’re all shit’ as someone posted on my Twitter feed when I asked the blog/mob-o-sphere their thoughts on the beer (while more recently another beer writer tweeted a pic of an New England IPA where bits and pieces of something or other swirled about in the glass — I had drank the same beer, the BrewDog/Cloudwater V2 collaboration, and noted no bits and pieces).

So how shall we proceed? How about that the New England IPA is resonant with the erotic possibilities of ripe and bruised tropical fruit skin on both the nose and palate, prickly with the sharp bite of carbonation, Las Vegas crooner smooth in the middle palate, laced with a lushness of juiciness, lacking in bitterness, and when cold and correctly brewed, as drinkable as any beer style, whatever its origins and designation. ATJ

/ Black Market Brewing, Batch 001, 7.5%

Black Market Brewing make beers with Herculean-strength hops. This “New England-style IPA” adheres to “style”, but has a welcome thwack of bitterness.

/ Unbarred Brewery, NEIPA, 5.5%

Proof that a self-proclaimed NEIPA can’t have a hint of bitterness. Massive tangerine and pineapple on the nose. More fruit on the palate, but with a dry bitter twist making it very drinkable.

/ De Molen/Magic Rock, Magic & Tricks, 8.4%

Woah, this is a big, sweet, fruity and alcoholic, and with cornflakes. This Magic Rock/De Molen collaboration is so fruity, syrupy, it needs care and attention.

/ Odyssey Brew Co, The Cult, 6.7%

This darkly amber beer has the hallmarks of a NE IPA, but with the attitude the label suggests. Low on bitterness, but big on the dank, allium aroma. On the tongue, a grown-up fruit cocktail.

/ Cloudwater vs BrewDog, New England IPA V2, 8.5%

Aromatics of mango, papaya and the sternness of biscuity malt spring from the glass, while the tropical fruit continues with a creaminess, a juiciness and a dry finish.

/ Red Willow, Perceptionless, 6.6%

Macclesfield’s Red Willow are not afraid to call Perceptionless a New England IPA, explaining that in their view the sub-style is all about lots of aromatics and a juicy mouth feel. And of course the haze.