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What Is a New England Style IPA?

The American Style India Pale Ale remains among the most popular styles of craft beer on the market; however, a new IPA has emerged in recent years that is giving the widely popular traditional IPA a run for its money. Also referred to as “Hazy Ale,” New England Style IPA offers beer drinkers a heavily dry hopped, intense, fuller bodied and smoother flavored IPA. The team at Cheers All explains what makes a New England Style IPA stand out among its traditional IPA counterparts.

New England IPA Origins

As the name implies, the New England IPA was first brewed in New England, specifically in Vermont, back in 2011. It was not until after the 2015 Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style guidelines were released, however, that the New England Style IPA became widely distributed and purchased.

The first New England Style IPA (NEIPA) was the Heady Topper, brewed by The Alchemist brewery. Brewer, John Kimmich, took a traditional IPA recipe and decided not to filter nor pasteurize the beer which resulted in a thicker IPA with microscopic compounds, enzymes, and cultures that added both flavor and aroma.  The finished product was a murky beer with a distinctive taste that customers began to call a “hazy IPA.” 

The success of the first “hazy IPA” did not go unnoticed by other brewers who began making their own version.  The NEIPA was born and took the entire country by storm in what was referred to as the “haze craze.”

Why Is New England Style IPA Hazy?

What creates the distinctive haze in a NEIPA? A variety of techniques are used that are primarily aimed at enhancing aromas and creating a smooth, creamy brew while also reducing the harsh bitterness associated with more conventional IPAs.  For example, certain yeast strains are used in the brewing process that leave fruity esters as well as suspended matter in the beer which result in the haze.

How Is NEIPA Different from Other IPAs?

India Pale Ale (IPA) is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale that uses more hops and has a higher alcohol content. IPAs can be found in several styles with the New England IPA being the latest addition.  NEIPAs stand out because they are unfiltered and have an extremely low bitterness compared to other IPAs. Moreover, they often look more like orange juice (because of the haze) and taste exceptionally fruity. Among the most distinctive characteristics of a New England Style IPA are:

  • Appearance.  The trademark haze created by specific new world origin oats and wheat, suspended hop oils, and occasionally wildflowers is often the easiest way to identify a NEIPA. Its head is dense, creamy and cloud-like hovering over an orange or golden yellow body with carbonation bubbles persistently rising to the top.
  • Aroma. A full-bodied wall of rich aromatics that are usually fruity or tropical in character.
      • Malt Character.  NEIPAs are rather limited malt-wise with hop notes more dominant. 
      • Flavor. NEIPAs are hop heavy and tend to use hops from the fruitier end of the spectrum, such as passionfruit, guava, papaya, mango and pineapple. Yeast esters also result in sweet undernotes.
  • Mouthfeel. Flaked malts and water chemistry cause NEIPAs to feel soft and silky with a chewy full body and a lingering fruity sweetness. Carbonation levels vary but they are usually on the moderate to high side.
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