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Friday, November 17, 2017

New England IPA: "the first beer style based around Instagram culture."

Garrett Oliver, at Morning Advertiser

Garrett Oliver —author, bon vivant, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, and brewmaster for Brooklyn Beer— recently had something to say about so-called New England India Pale Ales.
I think it (NEIPA) is a fad. These things come and go. I have seen a great many fads over my 28 years of brewing. Three or four years ago, it was black IPA —everyone brewed one. Now, it is hard to find one.

And more...
New England IPA is a beer style that can be really tasty when it is well made, but it can't even sit on a shelf for two weeks. It has no shelf life to it at all. It is the first beer style based around Instagram culture. [...] It is based on the idea that you wait online or at a brewery to get some of this limited thing.
—Read the full interview with Mr. Oliver at the The Morning Advertiser (in the U.K.), published on 15 November 2017.


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What is NEIPA?

Typically cloudy in appearance and loaded with fruity esters from both hopping and fermentation, New England IPAs [sometimes known as NEIPAs or Vermont-style IPAs] rose to fame on the back of a beer called Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery in northern Vermont. Other northeastern US and central Canadian breweries soon started to emulate the massively successful beer, and from there this new style spread westward [and south] and eventually overseas.

Along the way, the appearance of these beers gradually evolved, growing first densely cloudy, then turbid and finally reaching something resembling orange juice with a head on it. As the "turbidity stakes" grew hotter, it came out that some breweries were adding flour and fruit purées to increase the cloudiness and "juicy" character of their beers.

Surprisingly, the principal difficulty with such ales is not that their appearance might put drinkers off — a dense cloudiness has, in some circles, come to be perceived as a mark of quality — but that some of these ales lack the flavour stability necessary in a market where competition is growing and kegs or cans of beer might not wind up being consumed within an optimal time frame.
—Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont
Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers (2017)

In their new book, Mssrs. Webb and Beaumont alliteratively placed their NEIPA description, accompanied by a few other beer 'style' candidates, under the heading, Suspect Styles & Tenous Trends. Mr. Oliver, in his interview, was adamant that his brewery would never brew such a beer, throwing shade: "We don't do bandwagon." And this blog's writer, a past brewer, simply disdains ugly beer.

So, whence NEIPA? Its murk —and beer murkiness in general— continues to pop up all over, unabated. What do we know? Instagram or not.

Yellow Beer

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