The New England Style IPA. Five words that either delight or depress. No beer variety encapsulates the dumpster fire that was 2017 more than this hazy/juicy hybrid. Both lauded and loathed, this anti-Reinheitsgebot beverage was seemingly produced non-stop by east and west coast breweries alike, for astounding prices. Years behind on the trends like we always are, even midwest brewers got in the mix, producing truckloads of misty, murky pea soup cans. Now, the style has made its way into the iconic brewery realm – Sierra Nevada is producing cans of ‘Hazy Little Thing’ – an unfiltered, unprocessed IPA.
Somewhere along the way, I think, the style began to be judged by HOW hazy it was. The cloudier the better. Nevermind that the look of a beer falls in distant 3rd or 4th most important when describing a brew, obviously aroma and taste being the forefront. If a beer tastes like orange juice concentrate – awesome! Gritty, metamucil sediment pouring from that bottle/can – amazing! When beer no longer tastes like beer, I guess I’m missing the hype. As I’m writing this, I’m angrily enjoying an Old Nation M-43. Yet again contradicting myself, this opaque brew is loaded with hoppy bursts of Amarillo, Citra, Calypso and Simcoe. It’s reminiscent of fresh squeezed orange juice with a garnish of pine. It’s good. I’ve had a few of them. Maybe I should stop shitting on a style/look of beer, and just enjoy it? Nah.
Was having a discussion on twitter about NE IPAs vs Hazy brews. It reminds me of the Porter/Stout conundrum that doesn’t exist. Are all hazy brews trying to be NE IPAs? Are NE IPAs longing to just be hazy? The best hazy, unfiltered brews from the midwest clearly come from northeast Iowa. Toppling Goliath makes great ones, but I would attest that they are juicy, unfiltered pale ales. To constitute a NE IPA, a brewer must add an adjunct such as brewers flour (apparently this is a thing, just kidding, or am I), or dry-hop the shit out of it, very late in the process. Or a word I’ve just come to know – flocculation – yeast on steroids that refuses to settle down with just one man/woman. Sediment has feelings, too. Science is hard.
So what am I doing here? Rating my 5 favorite cloudy yellow beers I had in 2017. I’m not limiting it to just NE IPAs, I’m throwing juicy pales, midwest murk, and all other foggy fermented ales into the mix too. All in, I had just under 50 of them since Jan 1. Here are my favorites.
5) Mikerphone – Gettin Freaky
A Milkshake IPA w/ Peaches, Lactose & Vanilla Beans. Thick, sugary IPA with that added fruity element that finished sweet. Transcending the line of beer and dessert after-dinner drink. I took down an entire bomber with ease, which I believe constituted my entire daily value of vitamin C. Thanks Mikerphone.
4) Fair State – Spirit Foul
Probably the beer that tasted most like actual beer on this list. Well-balanced, hop-forward, tropical notes, addition of oats. A hazy, swell beer. Originally didn’t like it as much, but the more I drank – the more I enjoyed? Brewed in collaboration with Modern Times brewery from Cali. Fair State is from Minneapolis, and is a co-op venture. 4-pack 16oz cans. 6% abv.
3) Old Nation – M-43
The NE IPA is not recognized by the brewers association and that’s ok. The Michiganders behind this & more rotund brother, Boss Tweed, have seemingly perfected this style. Cloudiness created from the malt they use and the interplay of the oils and acids in the hops they add. Whatever. I’m getting exhausted talking about it. It’s very fruity and I get mango, pineapple, and a little stone fruit/melon foreplay.
2) Tree House – Julius
Does Orange Julius know about this? C&D coming immediately if not. But yeah, everyone wants the Tree House. They line up for hours. They buy hundred dollar cases. They freak out. I hyped this up too much of course, but the waves of peach and nectarine do dazzle the palate. It’s a nice brew. I’ve yet to try much else from them, simply because getting it is currently not worth the hassle. I’ll grab the other T’s – Transient and Trillium in the meantime. See, everyone’s on the haze craze!
1) Monkish – Foggy Window
I had this very early this year, and I recall it being extremely good. Nelson, Galaxy, Citra. Massively overpacked with fruit flavor, resin-y stickiness, hops were there. Even the name is hazy!
Other exceptional brews include Toppling Goliath King Sue, Noble Aleworks Double Platinum, Veil Old Lions, Tired Hands…something I can’t remember, and one of the craziest beers I’ve had – Magnify’s Most Important Meal. Perhaps I’ll continue to dismiss the hype and embrace the unknown. Maybe I’ll just continue being angry for no reason and give in to the blurry, bleary beers. Choose your own adventure.
Thank you for reading this lazy, detestable piece about a topic I understand little about. It’s downright dangerous to publish this, but I live on the edge. Above the Clouds.