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New England IPA You Say? Yes, Indeed!

The original New England IPA??

A couple weeks back I introduced CBC listeners to a new kind of IPA – new at least for these parts. New England IPA. You can listen to the CBC column here if you wish.

The column was inspired by my sampling of the three-way collaboration brew Troubled Waters (read my full review of that beer here), produced as a first year anniversary celebration for Bench Creek, Blindman and Troubled Monk. They call the beer an East Coast Double IPA, but the moment I first took a sip I knew this to be a really strong rendition of the burgeoning New England IPA style.

New England IPAs, which maybe should be called Vermont IPA to reflect their region of origin, are a relatively new take on IPA and one that is markedly different than anything the beer world has seen before. Light-bodied, aromatic and intensely fruity this new sub-style pushes the bitter hit to the background – although there are clearly IBUs in there – to instead accent hop flavours and aromas of citrus, fruit and fresh grass. It is also as hazy as your best hefeweizens.

The most famous version of the style – and some argue the first, although that is a murky situation – is Alchemist Brewing’s Heady Topper, which I got to try a couple of years ago (read my review here). Regular readers will know that I am something of a style curmudgeon. I resist such terms as “black IPA” and grumble and grouse about the kids these days with their “session” this and “imperial” that. But after tasting Heady Topper, I was sold on the fact this is sufficiently different to rate a unique name. Plus, I rather appreciate it is named after the region of its birth, rather than some oxymoronic descriptor.

I don’t think I can overstate just how different New England IPA is from your regular American, or even West Coast IPA. Intense, attractive fruit aromas and flavours backed by a delicate malt bill. Common descriptors are of Five Alive or Tropical Punch – that is how fruity we are talking. The bitterness is almost an afterthought.

Despite their huge popularity on the east coast, they are still relatively unknown on the prairies. I can’t remember one being brewed around these parts before (although my memory could be faulty). Troubled Waters was a one-off but in a matter of a couple weeks, a new version from Bench Creek, called Apex Predator, will be released. Upstart Outcast Brewing is also playing around with a New England approach to its beer – fruity aroma and flavour forward. I have also just learned that Grande Prairie’s Grain Bin has just released a one-0ff New England IPA as part of its Democracy series.

So, maybe, just maybe, the New England-style is finally reaching our part of the world. About time I say.

3 comments to New England IPA You Say? Yes, Indeed!

  • As stated by the author “A couple weeks back I introduced CBC listeners to a new kind of IPA ” I like and enjoy a good article but the CBC has little or no more readership or listeners (less than 10 %) and sadly lost so many followers as to make it irrelevant in this day and age. Sadly tonight this is my thoughts. Any how I will give any beer you suggest a good old Alberta try. Merci

    • beerguy

      Actually, CBC Radio One in Edmonton ranks 7th out of 20 radio stations – and that doesn’t include their numbers across the rest of Northern Alberta. So, their numbers are actually quite good and the listenership quite well-suited for a craft beer oriented column. Don’t write off the Mothercorp quite yet…

  • I’m not writing them of yet as far as the radio goes. This we need it’s the rest of the Mothercorp that really bothers me. My support since 1954 has suddenly changed in the last 10 years. No need to ask why. Thanks

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