Beer Man

Six Newly Packaged New England-Style IPAs From Colorado Brewers

Copper Kettle just began canning Citrus Paradisi IPA.
Copper Kettle just began canning Citrus Paradisi IPA. Copper Kettle Brewing
No, this isn't a geography quiz. New England-style IPAs are the hottest and most controversial thing to hit craft brewing in a long time, and Colorado breweries are making some of the best examples in the country. The "style," which isn't yet recognized by the Brewers Association, showcases tropical, citrusy hops aromas and flavors, but without the bitterness that traditional West Coast IPAs are known for.

What makes the style controversial is its look and feel of the beer, which can range from mildly hazy to cloudy to fully turbid. That non-traditional, occasionally off-putting look, combined with the softer, richer mouth feel and the sweeter flavor profile garner New England-style IPAs comparisons to juice or descriptions of "juicy."

While some breweries deride the style — including, oddly, some of the very breweries that make them — others love them. Weldwerks Brewing, Odd13 Brewing, Cerebral Brewing, Fiction Beer Company and New Image pioneered the style in Colorado. But many more have since tried their hand at it, with varying degrees of success.

Few breweries are packaging these beers, however, because the same brewing processes that give them their look and juicy flavors can also make them unstable on the shelf. And even the breweries that package New England-style IPAs on a regular basis are still struggling to figure out how to make the beer consistent. If you love the style, however, you're probably willing to take those risks. Below is a list of six new and regularly available New England-style IPAs that have hit the shelves in recent weeks or months.

click to enlarge Epic's new cans feature a Haze-O-Meter. - EPIC BREWING
Epic's new cans feature a Haze-O-Meter.
Epic Brewing
New England Style IPA
Epic Brewing

Epic Brewing was slow to join the haze craze, but one it did, it went full throttle. In July, the brewery launched the first in a series of canned beers that will all be known simply as New England-Style IPA, though every new addition to the series will showcase a different mixture of hops. Each can will vary in color and have a different code name so that consumers can tell them apart. Version one, known as Citralush, "has an abundance of late-addition Citra and Mosaic hops," Epic says. Oh, and the brewery has added flavor and appearance scales on the sides of the can as well to help "prep your palate." They measure dankness, juice factor and haze.

Crooked Stave Facebook page
Trellis Buster Double IPA
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

Known for its wild and sour ales, Crooked Stave began making "clean" — brewed without funky Brettanomyces yeast or souring bacteria — beers earlier this year. Three of those hit cans in August: Von Pilsner, IPA and Trellis Buster Double IPA. The latter is a true standout, boasting the soft mouthfeel that lovers of the style have come to expect, but not the flat sweetness that can sometimes inhibit these beers. Dry-hopped with Azacca, Citra, Motuseka and Simcoe, Trellis Buster uses more hops than any other beer Crooked Stave has made.

click to enlarge Weldwerks began canning Alpha Bits in August. - WELDWERKS BREWING
Weldwerks began canning Alpha Bits in August.
Weldwerks Brewing
Alpha Bits New England Style IPA
Weldwerks Brewing

For the past few months, Weldwerks experimented with different recipes for this beer, releasing them on tap and gauging both customer response and shelf life of the brew — how long the beer could remain viable without losing its flavor profile. The goal was to create a recipe "suitable for distribution as our first packaged IPA," Weldwerks says. "For this final iteration of Alpha Bits, we utilized the best aspects from each batch, and we are incredibly thrilled with the end result." Weldwerks began distributing Alpha Bits in sixteen-ounce four-packs in August.

click to enlarge COPPER KETTLE BREWING
Copper Kettle Brewing
Citrus Paradisi
Copper Kettle Brewing

Copper Kettle hasn't focused on IPAs over the years as much as it has on English styles and barrel-aged stouts, but it found a winner with its very first New England-style IPA, Citrus Paradisi. Brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops, this unfiltered IPA "quickly started outselling our West Coast-style IPA in the taproom, so we wanted to try bringing that style to a larger audience," says brewery co-owner Jeremy Gobien. So Copper Kettle added it to the company's canned lineup and just began distribution last week (Copper Kettle uses Crooked Stave's distribution arm to get beer out beyond the taproom).

Dry Dock Brewing Facebook page
Dry Dock IPA
Dry Dock Brewing

This one might have snuck up on you because Dry Dock Brewing doesn't market the beer as a New England-style IPA or mention the style on its label. But the "Turtle IPA," as some people call it, according to the brewery, is indeed a hazy creation. It was brewed with Mosaic, Ekuanot and other hops varieties, as well as flaked oats and malted spelt, which help to give it a softer mouthfeel and a hazy appearance. Dry Dock has had some problems in the past few months keeping the haze from clumping in the beer, but the brewers continue to refine their recipe.

Trinity Brewing Facebook page
Hype Forager Turbid IPA
Trinity Brewing
Colorado Springs

This beer was brewed as a cynical joke by Trinity, whose owner has been a standard-bearer for brewers who hate New England-style IPAs. From the name of the beer itself to the snarky notes on the label — including "brewed with flour," "pair with the tears of new-Millennial fanboys," and "place in a paint can shaker for ten minutes before opening" — it appears to make fun of the very people who like to drink it. Even the label was applied upside down as a gag to encourage people to shake up the beer in order to get the flour and yeast to mix around more. Trinity contract-brews and -cans the beer at Pikes Peak Brewing in Colorado Springs.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes