Tap This: Sessionable hazy IPAs are rising stars of craft beer industry
The IPA is without a doubt the leader in the craft beer market. Within the IPA category, though, is a series of ebbs and flows toward the most popular variant. Right now, the New England style IPA, or NEIPA, is the rising star within the market, with an even more popular version rising through the ranks within, the session hazy IPA.
While this may sound like a box within a box within a box to the lay beer drinker, to the craft beer lover, it makes perfect sense. The rise of session IPAs has long been a popular sub-segment for IPAs. The main reason for this is the desire to enjoy great beers without having to be the first to leave the party.
This love has trickled into nearly every IPA variant with the NEIPA becoming the newest to take up the cause. First, though, an examination of the New England IPA is in order to better understand the style.
The style, of course, originated in the New England region of the United States and has grown in popularity throughout the country. The NEIPA is best described as an aggressively hopped, unfiltered IPA. This combination, along with the use of flours, flaked oats, and/or wheat creates a beer that varies from slightly to extremely hazy and orange juice-like in appearance.
The NEIPA is also characterized by its juicy quality that is packed full of fruity and floral notes. The style is widely recognized now but has not gone without some controversy. While many drinkers and brewers alike love the beer, there are some that view it as a “lazy” beer.
What some brewers argue about the style of beer is that it can create a lazy brewing style without much attention to detail. Also, the fact that some breweries add flour to achieve the haze is frowned upon by some. However, this tactic is in the minority for many brewers. Regardless of how some feel, it has been a very hyped style of beer with many drinkers waiting hours in line to get their hands on some.
Within this style, like the standard American IPA, there is a wide range of ABV’s. Some of these beers tread into the double-digit category and can become one and done beers for some beer lovers. However, many of the brewers of the NEIPA have already begun brewing sessionable versions of the style.
Here is just a short list of some great NEIPA session IPAs. Keep in mind, though, that many of these must be purchased directly from the brewery and can be difficult to find at times due to the limited amount available.
Hudson Valley Brewing Company — Pillow Hat: Hudson Valley is a fast growing brewery in the Hudson Valley region of New York with a great affinity for brewing NEIPAs and world-class sour beers. Their Pillow Hat is certainly a beer that they can, pardon the pun, hang their hat on, and drinkers love it. At a deceptively low 4 percent ABV, this beer packs a strong flavor punch without ending your night early. The beautiful combination of citra and moteuka hops imparts juicy fruit flavors, and the beer bestows a lingering dry, bitter quality that is refreshing and leaves you wanting more. Not to mention their beautifully simplistic artwork is something you may want hanging on your wall!
Equilibrium Brewery — Photon: Equilibrium Brewery is another sought after brewery in the Hudson Valley, N.Y. region. They have perfected the NEIPA style with a seemingly endless onslaught of great beers in the category. Their Photon, though, is a real crown jewel for the brewery. This 4.8 percent session beer has a refreshing quality that is second to none. Notes of tangerines, apricots, peaches, mangoes and pineapples intermingle and dance across the palate.
Tired Hands Brewing Company — HopHands: Tired Hands has built a strong and steady reputation with a wide variety of beer styles but has been brewing some very sought after NEIPAs. Their very popular Alien Church has fans lining up for hours to get their hands on cans during a release day. HopHands is a 4.8 percent ABV, heavily hopped sessionable beer. The addition of oats adds a hefty body that creates a feeling that this is a high ABV beer. The hops work well in uniform and impart a strong hop bite with a subtle juicy fruit character.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.