A heap of breweries are boarding the haze train at the moment – next stop Juiceville USA.
Fascination with modern, aromatic US hop varieties, such as Citra or Mosaic is turning into obsession for some brewers. In fact, in terms of acreage, Citra recently overtook the original pioneer of American hops, Cascade. And there’s a whole host of new and interesting varieties coming such as Cashmere and Pekko now being made available to brewers, giving them the opportunity to push the flavour and aroma of their beer even further.
The problem with so many breweries investing heavily in the zeitgeist that is New England IPA, is that it can, on occasion, be difficult to tell one outfit's offer from another. Even worse, some great beer from lesser known producers can be overlooked. This is a travesty.
So the next time you’re desperate to fill you bag cans from Cloudwater, Verdant, Deya et al, save a little room in there for something new. A recent favourite of mine has been from Beak Brewery, a one man “cuckoo” brewing operation masterminded by brewer Daniel Tapper. Not being in possession of a brewery of his own, Tapper travels to other breweries – such as Missing Link Brewery in Sussex – in order to produce his beers.
One that recently found its way into my refrigerator was a New England IPA featuring Citra, Nelson Sauvin and, somewhat curiously, Verbena. I was interested to see how the herb would affect the flavour of this beer – and that was before I’d even taken the time to appreciate the delightful artwork on the label.
This IPA pours with that typically golden, opaque hue that has become such a welcome and familiar sight these days. The aroma is sweet, with hints of barley sugar clouding a little candied orange peel. As with the best New England IPAs, the beer’s body is far lighter than its appearance would suggest.
There are some fun flavours here – a little smoosh of orange, a prickle of gooseberry and an almost woody, herbal note from the Verbena near the dry finish. It’s just a hint of woodiness though, acting in a complementary way to the dry herbal prickle I typically find Nelson Sauvin adds to a beer, along with more obviously tropical notes like passion fruit and lychee.
If you’re looking to broaden your NEIPA perspective with something just a little bit different, this banger from Beak is a great way to do so.