I’m all for a solid, well-crafted IPA just about any day and any time. This style is a thirst quencher for me. It’s bold. It’s flavorful. And, it’s a style that has come in so many different variations as of late.
But as I’ve been doing my beer explorations, I’m starting to really have a preference for the Northeast style vs. the West Coast style. You may ask, “What do you mean by Northeast style?” Well, many breweries from Pennsylvania up to Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine have created recipes that vary from the classic West Coast style IPA which packs an intense hop bitterness. Think grassy and/or piney flavors with lots of bite in the finish. West Coast IPAs are also bright in color and clear in opacity with a crisp mouthfeel.
Northeast breweries like Tired Hands, Tree House, The Alchemist, Trillium, and Hill Farmstead have turned the style on it’s head by creating these soft, smooth mouthfeel IPA beauties that are chock full of tropical fruit aroma and flavor: mango, papaya, grapefruit, orange. Although hop forward, there is a balanced approach to the taste. The hops come through as juicy fruit flavors as opposed to straight up bitterness.
What contributes to the cloudy appearance and creamy texture? A variety of things. The type of yeast used. The amount of adjuncts used in the beer brewing process like oats, wheat, rye, etc. The water profile also plays a role in the beverage’s mouthfeel.
The type of hops used also makes a difference. With well over 100 varieties of hops available to brewers, there’s definitely room to get creative and push the limits of taste.
Because avid beer drinkers like myself have latched on to this style, there have been a plethora of breweries here in the Northeast following suit. And, if you visit their breweries during release days, you may find yourself standing in a line. A very, very long line. Us Northeast folk get a little fanatical about our beer!
Don’t get me wrong. I still have a great appreciation for West Coast style IPAs. It’s the reason I started to love this style of brew in the first place. Stone IPA, Russian River Pliny the Elder and Ballast Point Sculpin will always have a special place in my heart. Some of my favorite Northeast breweries also make West Coast style IPAs, like Sam Adam’s Rebel IPA, and I think that’s great. I will tell you right now, that I will drink each and every IPA I can get my hands on. This beer girl doesn’t discriminate by any means!
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