New England IPA showed up on the U.S. beer consumer radar around 2011, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the style exploded and took over the IPA scene. New England IPA started with an IPA called the Heady Topper, brewed by The Alchemist brewery in Vermont. Brewer John Kimmich experimented with a traditional IPA recipe and decided not to filter nor pasteurize the beer. The result was a murky and thicker IPA with microscopic compounds, enzymes and cultures that added both flavor and aroma. Also referred to as “Hazy Ale,” NEIPA is recognized for its distinct taste and its unusually murky, orange juice-like appearance.
NEIPA has all the flavors and aromas from hops, leaning toward the fruitier and tropical spectrum, without the bitterness normally associated with an India Pale Ale. The hop varieties used are commonly associated with ripe or overripe tropical fruits such as passionfruit, guava, papaya, mango and pineapple, though some brews can have a citrusy character. The malt profile ranges from low to medium and is rather clean and neutral, with hop notes being more dominant. Carbonation levels vary, but they are usually on the moderate to high side. NEIPAs have a yellow to deep orange/gold appearance with its trademark opaque haze.
The haziness in NEIPAs is caused by a variety of techniques, primarily aimed at enhancing aromas and creating a smooth, creamy mouthfeel, while also reducing the harsh bitterness associated with more conventional IPAs. NEIPAs are dry hopped during fermentation. Sometimes, brewers will do double-dry-hopping, which means adding hops during and after fermentation. Hops are added to a beer roughly one-hour prior to the completion of the boiling process, which amplifies aroma while extracting less of the hops’ alpha acids, resulting in less bitterness.
When hops are added at that later stage in the brewing process, it leads to a stronger extraction of hops juicy, tropical flavors and aromas. A lot of its oils and proteins aren’t as thoroughly combined as well, giving the beer its very distinctive, cloudy appearance. Brewers also use adjuncts like oats, wheat or rye and avoid filtering NEIPAs, which helps to avoid flavor loss. Unfortunately, because of the unfiltered and unstable nature of NEIPAs, they tend to have a very short shelf life and usually require constant refrigeration.
NEIPA was introduced just over decade ago, yet it has become one of the most sought-after IPA styles. With original style traces back to New England, NEIPAs are brewed all over the world today.