So what are New England IPAs? Beer aficionados know that IPAs differ not only in style, but from region to region. To some degree, differences may be due to the area’s largest hops supplier or available beer supplies. But those factors don’t influence the popularity of an IPA’s style because, frankly, we can purchase the gamut at a good package store. New England brewers have developed a prominent style that tends to by cloudy and sweet, while avoiding the bitterness of traditional IPAs.
West Coast IPA giants tend to amp up the ABV in conjunction with a classic bitter backend and citrus-tinged front-end aroma. Traditional IPAs and West Coast brews also present a clearer product with a lovely golden tint. The New England IPA blazes a different trail altogether. They embrace a rich golden turbidity that hop heads embrace and some have deemed the “Haze Craze.”
Harpoon IPA was among the early regional IPAs to gain prominence. Then-brewer Tod Mott pushed the hop envelope during the 1990s. In many ways, Harpoon cleared a path for microbreweries by acting as what beer geeks like to call a “transitional beer.” For newcomers, that means a beer that helps wean you off flavor-deficient, mass-produced products. Baby steps are important because it can be something of a culture shock to jump from macro beers to robust and flavorful New England-styled IPAs.
Many industry leaders asked the question: “What are New England IPAs?” As a result many industry insiders have called for a separate “New England IPA” category, expert sites such as Beer Advocate only list top beers by region. Tree House Brewing Company, Maine Beer Company and Lawson’s Finest Liquids have Top 10 ranked IPAs. Other brewers such as Trillium, The Alchemist Hill Farmstead are also producing notable IPA batches and many are working with regional hops suppliers. Regardless of how they are listed, New England IPAs are unique and distinct in style, presentation and taste. They also pair favorable with a variety of dishes.
In terms of homebrewing, the beer supplies you’ll need to make this type of hopped ambrosia are available from Hop Havoc and at many craft brewing shops. Keep in mind that the process differs slightly when creating a flavorful, cloudy New England IPA with minimal bitterness.