I thought I was bored of New England IPAs.
There was a time, like many of you reading this I’m sure, when I found myself in constant pursuit of The Juice. I was lucky in 2016 when I decided to head to Philadelphia to the Craft Brewers Conference, the brewing industry’s largest convergence within a typical calendar year. Once the conference was over, I found myself with a spare day, so – after picking up a box of doughnuts from Reading Terminal Market – I figured out which train would take me to the suburb of Ardmore, and to Tired Hands Brewery.
When it comes to the best New England IPAs the US has to offer, I really have tried them all, from Trillium to Treehouse, The Veil, Other Half, Cellarmaker and WeldWerks. I’m fortunate in my line of work (combined with my own unquenchable enthusiasm) that they have a tendency to cross my path, sooner or later. But no American brewery’s haze has impressed me more than what I tasted that day at Tired Hands. The beers that were fresh with fruit and matched with complex grain bills that lent softness to the mouthfeel, with a complex, drying finish. These beers matched juice with drinkability. In the moments I spent enjoying them, I understood why people queued for several hours around the block to get their hands on this style of beer.
Over time, I moved on from the style, returning to others I thought I liked better. There are those of us who’ve been drinking craft beer long enough to get to the point where we like to drink lager, bitter and West Coast IPA, before lording it over the rest of you. We think we’re better than New England IPA. But I have a confession to make: I am definitely not bored of New England IPA. Except when they are bad, of course, but too often they are very, very good.
Step forward Newcastle’s Almasty, with a beer that made me say “ooh, that’s naughty” out loud after taking my first sip. Kush DIPA is a beer true to its namesake – chock full of dank juicy fruit, with a gently hit of warming alcohol to remind you this is a drink for grown-ups, before a little bit of bitterness leads to a dry finish that says “you’re not done with me yet”, and has you Googling where you can find another six pack.
Don’t let anyone tell you US hype is better than the UK. We’ve got juice more than covered here in the United Kingdom, and Almasty is one of the breweries at the pinnacle of this style.