I often write about the ultra trendy New England IPA. It’s an exciting and ever evolving style. With it’s continual evolution, have you thought about how there are different types of New England IPA?
For this article, I’ll dive into what this style started out as, what it’s become and where it’s going.
Craft beer is continually changing and creating new flavors. And there isn’t a better example of that than the New England IPA. Through its evolution, I’ve noticed three types of New England IPA variations or subcategories.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
Old School New England IPA
Many credit The Alchemist Heady Topper as the beer that started the New England IPA trend. Heady Topper was unique because it was unfiltered and brought a wide variety of flavors (fruit, citrus, pine, etc) without as much harsh bitterness.
It was a departure from the ultra bitter, piney IPAs that seemed to dominate most of the craft beer market at that time.
Heady Topper is a perfect example of what I call an Old School New England IPA.
The appearance is like an unfiltered wheat beer – think Hefeweizen. It isn’t completely opaque but still not clear either.
The flavor is fruit forward but still has other flavors like pine. The malt is definitely there and helps keep all of this in balance.
Most still consider Heady Topper to be a great beer and it is one of many that fall into this category. Lawson’s Sip Of Sunshine is another example of what I think is an Old School New England IPA.
Another Great Article To Read: 4 Iconic IPAs You Should Try
New School New England IPA
The results is what I consider to be the New School New England IPA.
This is what most of us think this style is all about. This new version goes beyond unfiltered to produce a hazy appearance and the flavor is big, tropical and citrus.
The appearance is equivalent to orange juice. It’s opaque, hazy and often bright orange. This is quite different from the unfiltered appearance of a beer like Heady Topper.
The flavor is all fruit juice-like flavors and typically carries a lot of sweetness with it.
Other Half, Tree House, Trillium, and Monkish are a few breweries that are often mentioned when discussing this style. They’ve dedicated much of their efforts to the New England IPA and people wait in lines or trade to get it.
In my area, Cincinnati, Listermann Brewing has led the way in releasing New England IPAs. They have been able to release multiple new versions each month that often sell out fast. While they still make amazing dark beers, they’ve gained a new audience by brewing this style of craft beer.
Another great brewery making this style is 450 North Brewing. Much like Listermann, they shifted their focus to New England IPAs and have made a name for themselves. And with each release, they just seem to keep getting better.
And if things couldn’t be any more confusing, a new variation of the New England IPA has emerged over the past year or so – the Milkshake IPA.
The first time I heard of this style was from Tired Hands. Not sure if they were the first to brew it but it’s the first I recall seeing.
More or less, a Milkshake IPA is a New England IPA with added ingredients to give it a thicker, heavier mouthfeel along with a flavor that you might find in a milkshake. Brewers add lactose, vanilla and often a high pectin fruit.
For example, Tired Hands has released Strawberry Milkshake and Pineapple Milkshake. And while I haven’t had a ton of Milkshake IPAs, the ones I’ve tried have been really good.
In Cincinnati, Streetside Brewery has recently started making this style. The latest that I’ve had was called Cereal Milk and the flavor was close to the milk left after a bowl of Crunch Berries. It was sweet, fruity and I really enjoyed it.
This is just the next evolution in the ever changing craft beer world and I think the future will bring even more types of New England IPA. I’ve even had a tart New England IPA so we may see more of those in years to come.
The New England IPA has taken over the craft beer world and it’s going mainstream in 2018 as many larger craft breweries are starting to make this style.
So I think it’s important that we acknowledge the differences in what it started as and what it has become.
And like most beer styles, they have started adding fruit to them to create new intriguing flavors. So while the New England IPA is already very popular, I think 2018 could be the year we see more Milkshake IPAs on tap lists.
Either way, I look forward to rediscovering what an IPA can be over and over again. It’s a continual evolution that’s bringing new flavors to beer drinkers and that’s something we can all drink to.