West Coast IPAs famously established San Diego breweries as major players in the American — and eventually global — craft-beer scene. But lately another regional IPA style has emerged as the contemporary favorite. Some call it a New England IPA, some a Vermont IPA, attributing its origins to breweries in that state, particularly The Alchemist and Hill Farmstead. One thing all agree on — whereas a West Coast IPA skews dry and bitter, this new style goes cloudy and juicy.
16990 Via Tazon, Rancho Bernardo
The cloudiness can make this style easy to recognize. Often hazy to the point of opaqueness, the cloudiness of such beers is reportedly attributed to use of high-protein malts and yeasts that remain suspended in the beer. Most beer styles call for yeast to be filtered or to naturally settle out of the final product, but the New England IPA embraces it. The resulting beers have a rounder, softer body than dry West Coast IPAs; and though they may be just as generously hopped, this style tends to highlight the hops' fruit flavors more than their bitterness.
2161 India Street, Little Italy
A few San Diego breweries have started featuring this style, and this beer fan has definitely been developing a taste for it. When I heard that Abnormal Beer Co. had released one called New Money, I looked for it on tap around town and found it on Bottlecraft Little Italy's draft list.
Sure enough, my pour was a flat pale yellow that obscured anything behind the glass. Abnormal introduced the beer as Vermont-style, owing its cloudiness to "Heavy protein content" and its juiciness to "huge late addition hops." I lingered over its citrusy aroma, anticipating a big dose of fruitiness coming my way.
I got a lot of lemon and some tangerine, with hints of melon. While it was definitely fruit-forward, there was something else there. New Money had the smooth mouth-feel the Vermont style is known for, but it also offered a streak of bold West Cost bitterness. I wouldn't say it's a hybrid of style, more like a reminder that San Diego hopheads still like to turn up the IBUs a bit.
I absolutely relished it, but those looking for greater fruit and less bitterness might prefer other representations of this style currently making the rounds. Perhaps Roots of Coincidence, the heavy-on-stone-fruit pale ale Modern Times made in conjunction with English brewery Cloudwater Brew Co. Or Apricos, Monkey Paw's collaboration with San Francisco's Cellarmaker that, as its name suggests, includes apricots, thus combining the New England trend with the fruited IPA trend.
All three are terrific, and more are undoubtedly on the way. San Diego may not be leading this craft-beer moment, but so far it seems to be up to the challenge.