Advertisement

The beer world’s next big trend? Look out for NEIPAs, also known as hazy IPAs

Share

IPA is the undisputed king of the craft beer world. The aromatic, often intensely bitter style stands in sharp relief to the bland brews that defined American beer for decades. And the ever-increasing demand for IPA drives the growing craft brewing industry. It’s a style that’s evolved along with beer drinkers’ tastes, and the latest evolution shows off the softer, less bitter side of IPA.

An East Coast import, and alternately dubbed the “North Eastern IPA” or “New England IPA” (NEIPA in either case) this new breed of IPA is all about showing off fruity hop flavors without the bitter hop bite. As brewers have developed new techniques for squeezing more hops into a beer, they’ve also discovered that many common brewing processes strip out some hop character. While not all craft beers are filtered, most are clarified to some degree to remove particles and increase the brew’s clarity. Not NEIPAs — they range from opaque to downright sludgy as a complex soup of proteins, suspended yeast and hop compounds form the haze that defines the style. Which, alongside the vibrant fruit flavors from modern hop varieties and a higher perceived sweetness led to another nickname: the juicy IPA.

The names of some of the best loved NEIPAs are telling: Julius, Pulp, Juice Box. The trend has landed in Los Angeles and more local brewers are experimenting with this new style.

Advertisement

Bob Kunz, brewmaster at Highland Park Brewery, was initially skeptical of the style. But he came to appreciate the challenges inherent in brewing an IPA so different from the West Coast IPAs that have won him acclaim. Learning to brew NEIPAs has been “one of the most rewarding experiences of brewing,” he said, and the fans are drinking them up. He says a batch of hazy IPA sells twice as fast as his West Coast IPAs.

Monkish Brewing in Torrance brews its own take on the style, and customer response has been overwhelming, with hundreds lining up at the brewery when releases are announced on social media. Highland Park Brewing and Mumford Brewing have seen similar responses to their releases of hazy IPAs.

But popularity begets controversy, and the hazy IPA trend is not without criticism from some brewers and drinkers. The main point of contention is that defining haze. While an NEIPA can have an appealing opalescence reminiscent of a Belgian witbier, others are drab and unappetizing. Apart from aesthetics, the haze can cause other issues that lead to flavor instability and a short shelf life. Haze-causing yeast and proteins can drop out of suspension. The style doesn’t travel well; these are living beers that change week to week when packaged and should be enjoyed as fresh as possible.

While the hazy IPA is surging in popularity in the Southland, it is still relatively thin on the ground. You’re going to have to seek it out, and your best bet — apart from lining up at a can release or turning to Internet beer traders — is a visit to the taproom of one of the local breweries experimenting with the style. Apart from Mumford, Highland Park and Monkish Brewing, try Homage Brewing in Pomona, Noble Ale Works in Orange County, or Indie Brewing Co. in Boyle Heights.

food@latimes.com

@latimesfood

ALSO:

Four reasons to drink beer with your breakfast

Along a Los Angeles freeway, the 101 Cider House rules

Wines of the Week: California’s Alexander Valley Cabernets


Advertisement