It might be me, I might be slow to the party, but it seems there’s a cycle of styles of beer — one day you go to the store and there’s suddenly a bewildering array of same sort of beers from all manner of brewers, sometimes all around the same hop. It happened recently around Nectaron.
I’m not talking about, for instance, lagers and pilsners that popped up for Octoberfest, or how everyone thought that we’d ditch beers for seltzers, but seemingly random weeks where there’s an influx of the same styles to the shelves, waves of similar-style and similarly-hopped beers available.
You might have seen the newest best thing, Cold IPA, and how there are now more than a handful of takes from various brewers. Before that, briefly, and now seemingly discarded, were hop-dipped beers. Both of these “styles” delivered varying taste results and — in the case of Cold IPA — a lot of discussion, disagreement and angst over exactly what was meant by “Cold”.
Hazy IPAs suddenly exploded into the market a few years ago, a hazy frenzy that continues now, and there are people that specifically ask for a hazy beer when they visit a bar, preferring them to the old-fashioned IPAs, which took a back seat and let the new kids have at it for a while.
I thought the New England IPA became, unsurprisingly, a brewer’s playground. Early Hazy IPAs, in New Zealand, did have a stronger attachment to the traditional IPA style, towards hoppy and bitter, but this didn’t last and a proliferation of all manners of takes became the norm.
Broadly, Hazy or New England or East Coast IPAs lean more towards the fruit, juice and florals, while the West Coast IPAs tend to be more pine, resin, citrus, bitter and — more recently — they lean towards a tropical note.
West Coast v East Coast challenges turned up, and there are a couple of brewers that essentially make both styles from the same hops, to deliver a contrasting experience. Epic come to mind.
So I’ve been really pleased that in recent weeks I’ve seen some of the traditional big-hitting traditional IPA styles reappear. Beers where you can use descriptors such as “chewy”, “resinous”, “dank” and “pine needles” — as in “it’s a big, dank, resinous beer that was almost chewy in the mouthfeel”, instead of being limited to “it’s a juice bomb” and only having the brightness or opaqueness of the beer to fall back on.
I’m not necessarily talking about core-range or OG IPAs either, but new and nice IPA variants, where you get to experience and enjoy the character of a hop. That isn’t to say that I’m not enjoying OGs such as Epic Hop Zombie or Liberty Citra, but there are some cracking new proper IPAs to be had, for instance:
- Tropican by Cassels Brewing Co.
- Brave Old World Burton IPA by 8 Wired
- Naked City by Slab Brewing
- Hoppy As F##k for Neil! by Behemoth Brewing Company
- That Eddy’s Drop WCIPA by Eddyline
It seems now the wheel has cycled back to “brewer makes a traditional IPA”, and I’m good with that. The showcase of the bitter, the character of the hop, something to ponder apart from how much mango you can taste and how bright orange the beer is.