New England-style IPA: Is it faulted or fantastic?

Cosmic Unity // Photo via Fiction Beer Company on Facebook

Cosmic Unity, a “New England-style” IPA // Photo via Fiction Beer Company on Facebook

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines of 2015 (category 21A, if you’re keeping track), the appearance of an American IPA “should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy.”

But a movement is afoot that leaves IPAs intentionally cloudy. The “New England-style” IPA is meant to deliver a different, creamier taste on the palate. Such lauded Vermont breweries as Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist are making them, as are Colorado breweries like Fiction Beer Company (left).

New England-style IPAs are often made with English ale yeast, which doesn’t eat as much sugar and doesn’t flocculate (clump together) as well as other strains, which leads to yeast suspended in the final beer in a hefeweizen-like haze. The style relies on tropical-flavored hops with a juicy sweetness, rather than the dank citrus notes common to a West Coast-style IPA.

Proponents of the technique say the chewier body, heightened aroma, and subdued bitterness make it a better transitional beer for people not yet fully aboard the IPA train. Its detractors say that hazy beer is usually a fault. Cloudiness means the beer isn’t ready, or the brewer used the wrong yeast, chilled the wort too quickly, or dry-hopped the beer too much, and that this New England-style trend is turning a brewing fault into standard methodology.

Read more: [H/t Westword]

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