By Hollie Stephens
Here at Equity, we are passionate about making the world of beer more accessible for everyone, no matter how much – or how little – you know about the various styles of craft beer available on the market today! By sharing knowledge and breaking down boundaries, we can promote inclusivity and support you in your journey of craft beer discovery, whatever your personal tastes happen to be.
In her blog series “Beer For All”, beer writer Hollie Stephens will shed some light on the history, flavor profiles and brewing methods of some classic beer styles which currently appear in the Equity Brew Co core range!
East vs West – Which IPA style is your favorite?
West Coast IPA is a style of beer that epitomizes the craft beer movement in the USA. Perhaps the most apt showcase of the hops that grow in the Pacific Northwest, these beers feature floral, pine and citrus aromas and flavors, with a high level of perceived bitterness. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program 2015 Style Guidelines, the first commercial example of a typical American IPA is thought to be Anchor Liberty Ale, first brewed in 1975 using whole Cascade hops. Today, though, modern IPAs have eclipsed these early beginnings, and brewers are turning out ever stronger and hoppier beers. In the era of double IPAs, black IPAs and other variations, the Anchor Liberty Ale would perhaps sit more comfortably in an American pale ale category.
Whilst the West Coast IPA is a stalwart that isn’t going anywhere, that is not where America’s IPA innovation ends. For some drinkers, IPAs are just a little too bitter and heavy with resinous hop aromas and flavors. “I feel like people either love IPAs or hate them” says Equity Co-Founder Jacque Braun. Fortunately, there’s another beer style that’s ideal for anyone who loves juicy, fruity hop notes without the strong bitterness of a West Coast IPA.
The New England IPA (or NEIPA) is a relatively new style but is already a firm favorite with many craft drinkers. This style has its origins in Vermont, and is characterized by a hazy appearance, fuller mouthfeel, and less perceived bitterness than a West Coast IPA. Often referred to as ‘juice bombs’ NEIPAs might in some cases be entirely opaque, appearing more similar to orange juice than beer in some cases! They are typically aromatic, featuring ripe tropical fruit flavors such as guava, mango and pineapple. In stark contrast to West Cost IPAs, NEIPAS are full bodied, with a silky, sometimes even creamy texture.
When brewing NEIPAs, brewers may choose yeast strains which produce subtle fruity esters, and which have low-flocculation (which helps to create the haze that categorizes this style). High-protein grains such as flaked oats and wheat might also be added to the grain bill to contribute to the trademark cloudy appearance, and some brewers might even add lactose to enhance body. Brewers add hops late in the brewing process, as well as during primary and/or secondary fermentation. For this reason, NEIPAs are usually best consumed fresh, soon after packaging.
Equity Brewing Co’s NEIPA is the Ninkasi NEIPA, a juicy beer with a restrained bitterness, which is named for the Sumerian goddess of beer. “Since we began brewing and I discovered the New England IPA, I found that it's smoother with less perceived bitterness than a traditional IPA” says Jacque. “The Ninkasi NEIPA has become one of my favorite brews!”
The American IPA is a perfect example of craft beer innovation at its best; a beer style that continues to be loved in its earlier iterations, whilst also continually inspiring brewers to reimagine it into new – and delicious – alternatives! If you’ve never tasted a New England IPA before, why not give the Ninkasi NEIPA a try?