We all know hazy IPA’s, either you love them or hate them! Non the less, hazy IPAs are one of the most sought after beer styles, and it is now an established international phenomenon. Hazy IPA’s are responsible for almost 50 % of the craft beer sales numbers today, and even has the highest amount of different of social media hashtags - #hazy #neipa # hazecraze #hazersgonnahaze and much much more! The matter of the fact is, the haze craze is here to stay – But do you know how the style originated? Was it intentional? A mistake? And what creates the hazy’ness? Let me fill you in!
The first days of the haze:
It all started in the region of New England in the northeastern part of the United States. A man named Greg Noonan (renowned craft brewing pioneer and author) founder of Vermont Pub & Brewery and his good friend and head brewer of Vermont Pub & Brewery John Kimmich started playing around with hazy beers way back in 1994. Back then all beer was expected to be clear, the duo faced a great amount of trash talk but continued to brew, and sell funny looking IPA’s a Greg’s pub. Around 2003 John parted ways with Vermont Pub & Brewery, to open and co-found his own brewpub – The Alchemist.
Heady Steady Haze!
Around 2004 John brewed his first batch of his beloved ”Heady Topper” (Hazy Double/imperial India Pale Ale). Back then ”Heady” was strictly only served for on-site consumption and not allowed for take away – But occasionally illegal crowlers surfaced at astronomical amounts, which lead to John opening his own production brewery in 2011 – which was one lucky move, one month after the opening, the Hurricane Irene destroyed The Alchemist Brewpub.
The craze which Heady Topper had created from 2004 to 2011 had such an enormous impact, that despite no marketing effort outside of Vermont, it grew in popularity through personal recommendations and craft beer websites and apps like Ratebeer, Beeradvocate and Untappd – As John started caning Heady Topper, it turned around overnight, and blew up! Or at least, market the point of no return – New England IPA’s or Neipa for short was the new hot thing.
What is a New England IPA? – Style guideline
The New England IPA or ”Neipa” for short, is a hazy / really cloudy / opaque India Pale ale with emphasis on fruity/juice characteristics but with the typical high bitterness you would think of when thinking India Pale Ale. The Neipa is a beer, which you want to drink as fresh as possible, as the integrated hoppy elements unfortunately fade fast.
Quick walkthrough on what you should expect from a Neipa.
Pale to golden orange in color. It shall be hazy, cloudy to nearly opaque suggesting orange juice. Head wise you should get a foamy, fluffy and persistent white head.
Weak malty character, little hints of cereal, biscuit and toast is accepted – But the malt isn’t the primary focus, as the hops are what is the force behind this beer. The powerful hop character is what you seek, and should get – notes of citrus and tropical fruits! Fruits like Orange, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Peach, Mango, Apricots, Blueberry, Gooseberry, melon and lime. The herbal, evergreen and spicy notes are allowed but only as a complement. You’ll get more of a grass and pine tree/resinous or weed/cannabis (DANK) vibe if the Neipa is hopped with hops like Columbus, Centennial, Simcoe, Apollo and Chinook you’ll like get a somewhat more resin and weed on the nose, but that mostly acquired when the beer is really REALLY fresh.
As on the nose/aroma you’ll get fresh hop flavors should be in the upfront, with emphasis on the tropical and citrus fruits. Piney, resinous, earthy, dank, and spicy hop flavors are often present, but they complement the fruity flavors. The Malt flavor is present, but it is subtle and only as a complement to the hops.
Stronger versions may showcase an alcohol note. Finish wise you’ll get some sweetness, higher if the beer contains lactose and some bitterness. The bitterness levels are medium-low to medium-high, but should be smooth and never sharp or harsh like you’ll often get from an American West coast India Pale Ale.
BUT… what makes the hazy?
In brewing terms, haze is called turbidity. Haze in beer consists of “insoluble material in suspension.”
The haze mostly comes from proteins and polyphenols in the malt, grains and hops – oats is a true star in Neipa, as oats contribute with high amounts of proteins. The proteins and phenols combine to form something called colloidal haze.
Colloidal haze forms when two substances bond, resulting in molecules large enough to be suspended within the beer, causing turbidity aka Haze.
There is a few key factor needed when making haze beer! One is the protein in the beer, which are the key to a stable haze.
A second also a key factor is yeast. Near the end of fermentation, the yeast wants to bond with other yeast cells and either floats to the top or bottom of the beer.
The higher the “flocculation” the more yeast will want to clump and drop out of solution, making for a clearer beer.
Therefore mid-to-low flocculating yeast is preferred, so more yeast stays in solution. – You might have guessed it! MORE HAZE.
Haze is also being achieved as a result of dry hopping: a method of adding hops during fermentation. Polyphenols from the hops combine with protein in the beer and form a haze. But this only happens when very large portions of hops are used in dry hopping process
Few last words!
Even tough, the Neipa first got recognized as an official beer style in 2018 by “The Brewers Association”, the beer style has run rampant throughout the craft beer world, and the Neipa hype train isn’t stopping anytime soon! The New England IPA style is the one who dominates the craft beer world, and if you haven’t had juicy New England India Pale Ale, I really recommend and want to encourage you to get some! – There is a reason why this beer style has gone from a trash talk subject to supreme stardom! I know Mikkeller often has a few fresh hazy beers in stock, hit up the webshop team if you have any questions about which beers are the freshest.
Chug chug, all abord the chugga-hype train!
Till Next time
- Yours truly, HopSkull.