Watch out West Coast IPA brewers! New England breweries are now brewing the latest and greatest hop-gasmic beers. Now, you may ask…What’s different about these New England IPAs and pale ales? Simply put, they’ve moved away from the west coast classic profile of a bitter citrusy hop character coupled with a light/dry mouthfeel and opted for a juicy tropical hop aroma and flavor coupled with a smooth, sometimes creamy mouthfeel with little to no lingering bitterness. One caveat though is that many of the breweries that have been producing New England style hoppy beers have quite limited distribution. Leaving hop-heads with the need to plan a New England road trip or organize beer trades in order to procure these sought after (at times quite hyped) beers.
While I’ve only made one such road trip so far in order to get my hands on some of Hill Farmstead’s sought after IPAs, double IPAs, and barrel aged beers. When a friend offered to pick me some beers from Trillium Brewing Company (Boston, MA), I accepted his offer without hesitation and ended up with four beers (750ml bottles). All of which are reviewed below.
Some New England-style IPA breweries:
- Hill Farmstead
- The Alchemist
- Lawson’s Finest Liquids
- Tree House
- Other Half
- Grimm Artisanal Ales
- Toppling Goliath
- Foley Brothers
- 14th Star
- Maine Beer Company
Quick side note: Because this post has consistently received a considerable amount of daily views I’d like to direct your attention to the Grain To Glass post that I put together for the New England style IPA that I actually brewed after being inspired by the Trillium beers reviewed below. Click here to check out a video of the entire process that I went through to produce my first New England IPA along with more information on this sub-style and written tasting notes.
Brewery’s Description: Layers of hops-derived aromas and flavors of citrus zest and tropical fruit rest on a pleasing malt backbone in our Fort Point Pale Ale. Dangerously drinkable with a dry finish and soft mouthfeel from wheat. Our year round hoppy pale ale culminates in a restrained bitterness and dry finish.
Tasting Notes: In true New England IPA fashion this beer poured a cloudy Straw to light gold color with a 1 finger head that left behind some impressive lacing. At first the aroma and flavor came off as being somewhat West Coast in character with grapefruit and dank hop notes throughout. However, as the beer warmed flavors of juicy pink grapefruit and apricot took over and gave the impression that I was drinking actual fruit juice. Though the dank hop notes lingered, they never took away from the juicy hop character or increased the beer’s already balanced bitterness. As eluded to above, this beer’s mouthful was smooth and its body was on the low end of medium, which lent itself to high drinkability i.e. I polished off the bottle in one sitting quite easily. Overall, as my first beer from Trillium I couldn’t have asked for more. In fact, of the four beers that I was fortunate to get my hands on, this one was my favorite. Rating: 10/10
Trillium DDH Fort Point (Citra and Columbus): From what I’ve heard and read Trillium dry hops towards the end of primary fermentation and again in an oxygen purged bright tank after a “closed transfer” of the beer to its tank.
Tasting Notes: After being blown away by the base Fort Point Pale Ale it was clear that I had to try the double dry hopped version next. In terms of appearance this version poured like a “hop milkshake”. Straw to light orange like its predecessor, but cloudier and topped by a creamier looking white foam that left behind lots of lacing. At first I was met in both the aroma and flavor by lots of grapefruit and dank hop notes upfront with a touch of malt sweetness at mid-palate, followed by moderately dry finish. However, even more grapefruit juiciness (like eating a fresh grapefruit) crept up in aftertaste as I sipped on and was quickly accompanied by hints of melon, apricot, and papaya. Lastly, towards of the end of the bottle the intensity of the hop character reminded me of juicy fruit bubblegum with its flavors amped up a notch…Another home run from Trillium Brewing Company! Rating: 9/10
Brewery’s Description: None available. According to the American IPA – Hop Bills and Analysis on The Mad Fermentationist’s website this beer is brewed with El Dorado and Trillium’s go to versatile hop, Columbus.
Having brewed with El Dorado hops I was curious to experience how they matched up with Trillium’s go to versatile hop, Columbus. Being that Trillium most likely has a base grain bill for its IPAs and pale ales, Sleeper street’s appearance did not deviate from that of Fort Point. However, I was not as wowed by its overall hop character due to its lack of the New England hop juiciness and smooth (almost creamy) mouthfeel that I loved in Fort Point and DDH Fort Point. Upfront I was met with grassy lemon and floral notes, which I associated at the time with Columbus hops. Then at mid-palate the El Dorado surfaced with refreshing notes of candied lemon peal and lemongrass. While the finish wasn’t as juicy as the previous two beers it was crisp and lent a refreshing quality to my drinking experience. Rating: 7.5/10
Brewery’s Description: None available. According to the American IPA – Hop Bills and Analysis on The Mad Fermentationist’s website this beer is brewed with Galaxy and Columbus hops.
Comparable to DDH Fort point in appearance this beer poured straw to light orange in color, had full on NE IPA cloudiness, and was topped by an off white head that dissipated quickly, but left behind a considerable amount of lacing. Congress Street’ initial aroma consisted of fresh peach, tangerine, and grapefruit with mango and a resiny quality surfacing in as warmed. The hop complexity followed seamlessly into the taste with added passionfruit and papaya notes rounding out the beer’s overall hop juiciness…Yet another tick on the NE IPA checklist came from the beer’s balanced bitterness and smooth and creamy medium body. So while the malts lent that great balance, they didn’t lend discernible flavors to the beer. In the finish there was a touch of citrus pith, hop astringency, and dankness left on my palate which at first reminded me of a WC IPA, but as I sipped on the dankness faded and notes of fresh orange Juice, candied pineapple, and passion fruit sorbet enhanced and smoothened out the finish. Rating: 9/10 – best use of galaxy hops that I’ve tried to date.
After finishing these four great beers I was inspired to put together a recipe for my own iteration of a New England style IPA. Though it may need to be tweaked a bit before I brew it, I’m happy with the first draft (below)…All feedback is welcome. Cheers!
Note: I accidently forget to the change the style to IPA in BeerSmith, but intend to do so ASAP.