What defines the haziness and appeal of an East Coast IPA? Our exploration reveals the intricate balance of fruity hops and soft bitterness that makes this beer a favorite. This article provides insights into the brewing art of the East Coast, the characteristics that define it, and highlights must-try IPAs for your tasting adventure.
- East Coast IPAs, such as New England IPAs (NEIPAs), are known for their hazy appearance, balanced malt sweetness with hoppy bitterness, and fruity, floral hop profiles using varieties like Citra and Mosaic.
- NEIPAs became mainstream by 2017 and are characterized by a juicy flavor, softer bitterness, and a hazy, full-bodied nature due to ingredients like ale yeast, wheat, and abundant hops.
- Food pairings for East Coast IPAs are diverse, with a particular affinity for seafood and spicy dishes; these brews also serve as a canvas for brewers’ creativity, leading to a dynamic and innovative craft beer scene.
Exploring the Haze: What Defines an East Coast IPA
East Coast IPAs are a class of their own, standing out with their distinct hazy appearance, fruity and floral hop profile, and balanced bitterness. This haze factor is not merely aesthetic but an integral part of the beer’s flavor and aroma.
The well-rounded taste profile of East Coast IPAs is characterized by a harmonious blend of malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness. This balance showcases the skill of East Coast brewers and their meticulous selection of ingredients and brewing processes.
The rise of New England IPAs, a popular subset of East Coast IPAs, has significantly influenced the style, contributing to its widespread popularity and the brewing community’s enthusiasm for experimentation. Each step in the brewing process of an East Coast IPA, from yeast strain selection to the fermentation process, is meticulously designed to amplify its signature hazy appearance and fruity tones.
The Haze Factor
The haze in hazy IPAs is primarily made up of:
- Grain protein, particularly from wheat, which has a much higher protein content than barley
- Polyphenols from hop oils
- Starch from oats if used by the brewer
This characteristic haze of NEIPAs, once seen as a fault, has evolved to become a hallmark of the style, enhancing its sensory appeal and contributing to the beer’s creaminess and satisfying sensory experience.
Fruity & Floral Hop Symphony
The symphony of fruity and floral notes in East Coast IPAs is the result of a careful selection and combination of hop varieties. Popular choices include:
Increasingly, brewers are turning to New Zealand and Australian hops like Motueka and Galaxy to contribute to the tropical fruit flavours and fruity characteristics of their brews.
The choice of hops, including citra hops, plays a key role in creating the complex flavor profiles that East Coast IPAs are known for.
Bitterness Balanced with Sweetness
Balancing bitterness with sweetness is a signature trait of East Coast IPAs. This balance is achieved by the use of malts and sometimes adjuncts like lactose in the grain bill, providing a counter to the hop bitterness.
Yeast strains like Wyeast British Ale 1098 and White Labs Bedford British Ale WLP006 produce malty flavors with a clean finish, contributing to the distinctly malty beer with fruity esters, rounding out the sweetness.
The Rise of New England IPA
The New England IPA, or NEIPA, is a testament to the power of innovation and the love for great beer. By 2017, NEIPAs had become a mainstream presence, with craft breweries across various states crafting their interpretations of this style.
The popularity of NEIPAs can be attributed to their:
- Juicy flavor profile
- Softer bitterness
- Use of ale yeast, wheat, oats, and abundant hops
- Hazy appearance
- Full flavor
These characteristics have proven to be a hit among beer enthusiasts.
Large craft breweries, such as Boston Beer Company, have recognized the success of NEIPAs and invested in significant research and development to produce their own variants. The lower bitterness and heightened fruitiness of NEIPAs have been pivotal in attracting new craft beer drinkers, according to Mark Bowers, Brewmaster at Aeronaut.
The Birthplace of Juiciness
Tracing back the origins of the New England IPA style, John Kimmich of The Alchemist Pub & Brewery in Vermont emerges as a pioneer, having brewed the first known NEIPA, Heady Topper, in 2004. This initial brew showcased a fresh hop aroma, a softer and more silky mouthfeel, and an unfamiliar hazy appearance. The style’s juicy flavor profile, similar to tropical fruits or citrus, with minimal bitterness, quickly gained traction.
Double dry hopping, a characteristic process in NEIPA production, heightened hop aromas without adding extra bitterness.
Crafting the Perfect Sip
Crafting the perfect NEIPA requires careful attention to detail and a deep understanding of the brewing process. Brewers use late hop additions and biotransformation by dry hopping during active fermentation to create unique flavors and aromas. To maintain freshness and palatability, meticulous procedures are applied to prevent oxidation, such as dry hopping under pressure and proper conditioning.
The yeast strain plays a critical role in NEIPA brewing, contributing to the sweet, full body that complements its juicy character.
A Toast to Tradition: English Influences on East Coast Style
The East Coast IPA style owes much to traditional English IPAs, which have shaped the style’s characteristics and complexities. Yeast strains from across the pond have been adopted and adapted in the brewing process, adding to the cloudier appearance and complex flavors of East Coast IPAs.
Brewing pioneers like John Palmer have been influenced by English-style ales and European malts, which they incorporated into American IPAs for a richer malt profile. East Coast IPAs often mirror English IPAs in brewing techniques, where hops are added later in the process to enhance flavor without adding excessive bitterness.
Ale Yeast Strains and Their Impact
Ale yeast strains play a significant role in shaping the flavor and appearance of East Coast IPAs. While West Coast IPAs use clean yeasts to showcase hops, East Coast IPAs utilize complex British yeast strains, often mutated, to produce robust flavors and aromas, including notes of stone fruit, banana, and tropical fruit.
These yeast strains also contribute to a higher residual sugar content, playing a critical role in creating a balance between sweetness and the hoppy bitterness.
From Britain to the Eastern Shores
The journey of English IPAs to the East Coast of the United States and their adaptation to local brewing conditions make for a fascinating tale. Adapting English ale yeast strains to their specific brewing conditions, East Coast brewers pioneered new yeast varieties such as the East Coast Yeast Northeast Ale ECY29, which amplify citrusy esters harmonizing with American hop profiles.
Notable American interpretations of the British IPA style include the emergence of Harpoon IPA in 1993 and Brooklyn East IPA in 1995, which incorporated local brewing techniques and ingredients.
Sampling the Coast: Notable East Coast IPAs You Must Try
When it comes to East Coast IPAs, the variety is simply astounding. There’s a multitude of flavors ranging from tropical and citrus fruits to pine and floral notes, attracting beer lovers to explore the variety within this beer style.
The Lord Hobo 617 Hazy IPA offers a balanced malt with fruity and floral hops, while Parish Brewing’s Dr. Juice offers pure tropical bliss reminiscent of freshly squeezed juice. Barrel Theory Beer’s Rain Drops showcase a Northeast-style IPA with Citra and Mosaic hops driving its hazy appearance and aromatic profile.
Other notable brews include Foothills Brewing’s Festival Express that bursts with apricot, blueberry, citrus, and tropical notes, and Arches Brewing Low Viz that astonishes with its tropical and limey flavor. Each of these IPAs crafts a lush, flavorful escape that exemplifies the East Coast’s take on the IPA style.
Tropical Oasis in a Glass
New England IPAs are renowned for their juicy, fruity, and tropical flavors, resembling a tropical oasis in a glass. The Tree House Julius IPA stands out with its hazy appearance, juicy tangerine profile, and tropical fruit flavors, while Druthers Brewing Company’s No Excuses New England IPA brings forth big fruity aromas with notes of pineapple and citrus.
These IPAs craft a lush, flavorful escape that exemplifies the East Coast’s take on the IPA style, presenting beer enthusiasts with a tropical sanctuary in every sip.
Citrus Groves and Pine Forests
American Solera Chase Exotic delivers a pronounced citrus and tropical fruit aroma paired with a subtly sweet malt character and crisp hoppy finish. Green State Conehead brings forward a juicy palate that includes grapefruit, tangerine, and mango, accompanied by floral and slightly herbal hops.
These IPAs exemplify a refreshing fusion of citrus notes and pine that characterizes the allure of East Coast-style hop-forward beers.
Double the Hops, Double the Fun: The Allure of Double IPAs
Double IPAs, also known as Imperial IPAs, are characterized by a strong hop flavor, elevated alcohol content starting at 7.5% ABV, and showcase notes of floral, piney, and citrus. These beers offer a significant flavor and alcohol content increase, delivering more intense experience to the drinker.
While Double IPAs are known for their intensity, they set themselves apart with a clean and dry finish, steering clear of the complexity and sweetness typically associated with an American barley wine.
This style of beer takes the standard IPA and turns it up a notch, doubling the hops for a beer that’s bursting with flavor and intensity.
The Craft of Double Dry Hopping
Double dry hopping is a brewing technique that is often used in the creation of Double IPAs. This method involves using a higher than typical amount of hops, which contributes to an IPA’s intense hop flavor and aroma.
Hill Farmstead Abner is an example of an unfiltered double dry-hopped beer, utilizing Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, Simcoe, and Warrior hops for its unique fruity and dank flavor notes.
Imperial IPA vs. Double IPA
Although ‘Imperial IPA’ and ‘Double IPA’ are frequently used interchangeably, both refer to a single style of beer characterized by robust hop flavor and a higher alcohol content.
Imperial IPAs tend to exhibit a higher bitterness, reflected in IBU ratings that typically range from 65 to 100, in contrast to the 50-70 IBU range found in standard IPAs.
Pairing Perfection: Foods That Complement East Coast IPAs
Part of the enjoyment of East Coast IPAs is finding the perfect food pairing. These beers offer a balance of bitterness and hoppy flavors that pair exceptionally well with various types of seafood.
Some recommended seafood pairings for East Coast IPAs include:
- Grilled shrimp
- Lobster rolls
- Clam chowder
- Fish tacos
The natural sweetness found in scallops is harmonized by the contrasting hoppy bitterness of East Coast IPAs, which often feature the use of Simcoe hops and their spicy notes.
Seafood and Citrus Peels
East Coast IPAs with their citrus flavor profiles pair excellently with seafood such as lobster and scallops. The light and slightly bitter nature of East Coast IPAs helps to enhance the delicate flavors of these seafood dishes.
Spicy and Savory Delights
The robust hop profile of East Coast IPAs pairs beautifully with spicy cuisines, with the flavors from the dishes enhancing the beer’s taste. Grilled meats, specifically burgers and steaks, are ideal savory partners for East Coast IPAs.
The caramelized crust from the meats complements the caramel malts in the beer, and the beer’s hop bitterness highlights the meats’ umami flavors.
The Brewer’s Perspective: Insights from East Coast Craft Brewers
Brewing East Coast IPAs is an art form that requires both precision and creativity. Brewers on the East Coast embrace a philosophy of using diverse hop varieties to develop a complex flavor profile that distinguishes their IPAs.
The hallmark of East Coast IPA brewing is the experimentation with yeast strains and fermentation temperatures, enabling brewers to extract unique flavors and aromatic qualities from their beers.
The Artistry Behind the Brew
Brewers express a strong sense of pride and personal achievement in crafting their IPAs, often describing the process as an art form. The process of creating an IPA involves experimentation with different blends of hops and adjustments to brewing methods to achieve a desired flavor profile.
Innovations in East Coast Brewing
East Coast brewers are not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to brewing IPAs. They are incorporating ingredients like local fruits and experimental hop strains to create IPAs with unique flavor profiles.
Advancements in fermentation technology are being harnessed by East Coast brewers to experiment with new yeast strains that offer a broad range of flavors and aromatics.
The Coastal Rivalry: East Coast IPA vs. West Coast IPA
The longstanding rivalry between East Coast and West Coast IPAs is a tale steeped in brewing history. While both styles share a love for hops, there are notable differences in their brewing methodologies and flavor profiles.
California breweries played a pivotal role in the development of American IPAs during the 1990s by focusing on a lighter malt body that highlights hop bitterness.
A Tale of Two Coasts
East Coast IPAs can be very hoppy but typically have a more subtle bitterness compared to West Coast IPAs. The brewing process for East Coast IPAs often includes late hop additions, which imparts hop flavor without adding significant bitterness. East Coast IPAs maintain a certain density in the beer to keep the signature haze suspended, in contrast to the generally dryer West Coast IPAs.
Beer Drinker Preferences
The preference for juicier, fruit-forward flavors has led to an increase in popularity of New England IPAs over traditional West Coast-style IPAs. Despite the popularity of hazy and New England IPAs, West Coast IPAs maintain a significant presence in the market, signifying ongoing preference among a segment of beer drinkers.
Whether you’re a seasoned beer connoisseur or a novice, East Coast IPAs offer a unique and varied tasting experience.
From the hazy allure of New England IPAs to the traditional charm of English-style brews and the bold flavors of Double IPAs, there’s an East Coast IPA for every palate.
With their unique flavor profiles and innovative brewing techniques, East Coast IPAs have carved out a significant space in the craft beer landscape.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an East Coast IPA?
An East Coast IPA is known for its fruity flavors like stone fruit, banana, and tropical fruit, and is less bitter with a cloudier appearance due to fewer hops used. If you’re into fruity, less bitter beers, an East Coast IPA might be right up your alley!
What is the strength of East Coast IPA?
East Coast IPA is known for combining the punchy citrus aroma of American style IPAs with the easy-drinking flavor of English pale ale, creating a cold, gold, and triple-hopped celebration.
This creates a bold ale with a 4% fusion, making it a popular choice.
Who makes East Coast IPA?
The East Coast IPA is made by 1000 Island Brewing Company and Greene King/Morland Brewery. Both breweries produce this popular style of IPA!
What is west coast style?
West Coast style is a relaxed and less formal design, with a connection to nature and a mix of modernism and industrialism, including a lot of wood and stone. So, it’s all about blending natural elements with an industrial touch.
Why is the New England IPA (NEIPA) significant?
The New England IPA (NEIPA) is significant because it has significantly influenced the style of East Coast IPAs with its hazy appearance, juicy flavor profile, and softer bitterness. If you’re a fan of IPAs, you’ll want to give this style a try!