In the race for “juiciness” NEIPA turned into something disgusting
This spring, my bride and I decided to go to Asheville (North Carolina) – a great place for beer lovers, which we have already visited more than once. Asheville is a small beer paradise, which is full of both large and small breweries, each of which seeks to occupy its own niche both in the local beer community and on the national beer scene. This is a great place to get acquainted with national trends and see how they are embodied in a single locality, literally living in beer. In addition, here you can take a good walk and eat delicious donuts, but this is off topic.
Sitting on the terrace of a large regional brewery (so be it, it was New Belgium) one wonderful day, in the middle of a wonderful vacation, my bride took a sip of her muddy IPA and immediately made a grimace. Note that this woman loves craft beer and adores Indian pale ale all her life. She also does not mind the muddy NEIPA. Her reaction was not caused by an initial prejudice to this style – she chose this muddy IPA from many other varieties, knowing full well what she could expect. But what she said later perfectly reflects one of the main problems of modern brewing.
Having decided that this idea is worth remembering, I wrote about it on Twitter:
My bride, trying the muddy DIPA of double dry hopping: “My throat is burning from him. I won’t finish it. ”
How did it happen that the IPA went so far in that direction? Birgi chasing “juicy” varieties, but they, in fact, just burn the palate. There is little pleasant in this.
It turned out that a person who had not written a single line about beer in his life managed to express very accurately in one sentence the most common IPA problem today: the beer industry has gone too far in search of the “juicy” nature of IPA and is now actively hampering the achievement of own goals, producing a lot of low-quality beer. To make matters worse, these indigestible NEIPAs are so widespread that consumers simply don’t know what “juicy” IPAs should be like. We are teaching a new generation of beer lovers to a style that is incredibly difficult to drink, and this is a problem.
What should be the perfect NEIPA?
Stating that modern brewers who create NEIPA too often go too far with their efforts, we are simply obligated to define the “good” NEIPA. As with any beer style, there is an element of personal preference – people like what they like and can’t forbid it – but you can at least describe the profile that brewers strive to achieve. This definition is primarily based on the descriptions of the brewers themselves, that is, on how they see this style. Unfortunately, their vision is often very different from how beer is obtained in practice.
NEIPA is a result of the evolution of previous American IPA styles, representing a sharp deviation from what was considered normal at that time. In the US, IPA started as moderately bitter and balanced with malt varieties, and then became much drier and bitter, with gradually decreasing amounts of added malt, a la West Coast IPA; while NEIPA is very different from that described.
The level of late / dry hopping rises to an incredibly high level, and the early addition of hops is practically abandoned to reduce pronounced bitterness.
Mostly new, popular hop varieties are used, such as Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, etc., which are appreciated for giving the beer a taste of citrus, tropical and stone fruits.
Yeast is usually chosen with a high content of esters – for example, yeast for English ale – and not yeast for pure fermentation, massively used for the American IPA for many years.
Beer is not filtered, and there are quite a few particles of yeast and hops left in it, enhancing the hues of taste and aroma that hops and compounds formed during fermentation give to the drink.
Based on the foregoing, the ideal NEIPA is characterized by a pronounced “juiciness”, notes of freshly squeezed juice in combination with “green” notes of hops. Compared to previous IPA styles, it is less bitter and sweeter, with a higher residual sugar content, but at the same time maintaining a balance for nourishment, with a soft, even slightly creamy mouth feel. Below is a quote about the style from the General Impression section of the Beer Judge Certification Program:
American IPA with intense shades of fruit flavor and aroma, with a soft body and creamy mouth feel, often opaque, with a significant content of suspended particles. Compared to traditional IPAs, bitterness is less pronounced, but the hop component always dominates. Late hopping, especially dry, using hops with the character of tropical fruits gives the drink a special “juicy” character, which is known for this style.