Catawba Beer 101 – New England IPA
This is the first in a new series of weekly blog posts that intends to dig deeper into Catawba beer styles, brewing methods, and other points of interest. Bookmark this page for regular updates, and sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, The Zombie Times, for more Catawba news and events!
The New England IPA (NEIPA) is a hazy, juicy, hopped-up nectar of goodness that packs a huge punch of tropical fruit without the bitterness of a typical West Coast IPA.
The origin of this style is very new and somewhat debatable. However, most people seem to agree that since the first of its kind was brewed in the Northeast (New England) and demand increased locally thereafter, it was named as such. This unfiltered beer has become a huge craze, making its way from the East Coast across the country. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of this new breed of India Pale Ale.
The haziness and mouthfeel of this style is a result of a few different variables that all work together to create magic.
Brewers typically use high-protein grains – wheat, oats, and even flour – to create a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. In Catawba’s Small Batch NEIPA, a blend of flaked wheat and oats is attributable for the silky texture that makes this beer crazy drinkable.
Then there are hops – lots and lots of them! Hops are added late in the boiling process, with more being used for dry-hopping afterwards. Since the hops are added late, you get less bitterness and more aroma and flavor. Dry-hopping is the process of adding hops to the wort after it has cooled. These additions may be done in the primary fermenter or in secondary. By allowing hops to mull around before canning or kegging, you get no added bitterness in the beer, just a bigger aroma thanks to the hop compounds left suspended in the liquid. We used Citra and Mosaic hops at the end of the boil and then more Mosaic hops for dry-hopping during fermentation and post-fermentation. Can you smell the tropical fruit yet?!
Another variable is the type of yeast strain. By using a low to medium-attenuating English yeast strain, fermentation creates fruity esters that add to the sweetness of the beer. Attenuation is the percentage of sugars in the wort that are consumed by yeast and converted to alcohol and CO2. We used Burlington Ale Yeast (a strain from Vermont that originated from an English yeast strain) in our recipe to contribute to the signature soft, hazy glow and rounded mouthfeel of this style.
Last but definitely not least is water chemistry. While water chemistry is very important when brewing any beer, the mineral content can be manipulated to showcase a certain character in the beer. In most American IPAs, there’s a higher balance of sulfate to chloride since the sulfates help pronounce the bitter hop flavors. However, for the NEIPA, a higher balance of chloride to sulfate helps to emphasize the maltiness for a softer fruit-forward flavor.
Our take on the New England IPA was released last Thursday (July 13), and we hope you were able to come out to one of our tasting rooms to enjoy it!
This 6.2% ABV juicy NEIPA has flavor notes of ripe mango, papaya and passion fruit. We packaged it right after fermentation and dry-hopping, before all of the yeast particles settled out, to make sure the haziness and fruit flavors were fresh and intense right from your first sip! If you haven’t had a chance to try this beer yet, make sure you get out to one of our tasting rooms soon, because this beer won’t last long.