There’s a new kid on the beer style block: east-coast IPA. Or Northeast IPA.
If you are not a beer geek, chances are you aren’t entirely sure what that is, and if you see the cloudy, hazy concoction, you might think there is something wrong with the beer and send it back.
But for beer aficionados, this is the it beer style right now – perhaps even more than sours and barrel-aged beers. Even in Minnesota, over 1,000 miles away from east-coast IPA ground zero – where places like Trillium, Night Shift, Tired Hands, and Tree House have boomed – the style, defined by a distinct fruit flavor juiciness, is thriving.
Minnesota’s most popular iteration of the style is Stupid Good, from Perham, Minn., just an hour east of Fargo, N.D.
Head Disgruntled brewer Brett Doebbeling said he brewed Stupid Good back when he was a homebrewer, trying to replicate the beers he was trading for.
The beer, which began with the name Juiceman, is tough to brew consistently; the American and
Australian hops are hard to acquire, but make the beer worth brewing. People drive from the Cities for growlers and kill kegs of it at Twin Cities restaurants like Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill and Lounge.
“I’m totally blown away by the response we’ve gotten over Stupid Good,” Doebbeling says. “We currently have almost 30 bars waiting for it.”
For those in Rochester, there is an alternative to driving up north. Forager made what is my favorite east-coast IPA, the creatively named Swayzie Express. And due to how much head brewer Austin Jevne and the assistant brewers enjoy the style, they made the decision to have the style on tap for the foreseeable future.
Right now, Forager has Decent and Cloudy Daze east-coast IPAs on tap. Cloudy gives off pulpy orange juice flavor with a bitter finish, and Decent is a melange of tropical fruit.
Assistant brewer Zack Dunbar says that most of Forager’s hoppy brews will follow the popular style, not because it’s trendy, but because they love to drink it. Even the award-winning Hip Hops (recognized by Growler Magazine as one of the best hoppy beers in the state) is going to get a recipe change to adhere to the east-coast style. That means using an English ale yeast, double dry-hopping techniques, and a robust malt bill.
It’s a bold statement by the brewery.
“That is without a doubt going to be the focus,” Dunbar says of the stylelistic beer change. “That decision is based on making styles of beer we wanted to drink. And a lack of contentment. It’s sort of the antithesis of the brewery.”
While brewing stalwarts of yesteryear focus on consistency and style guidelines, places like Disgruntled and Forager look to breaking the rules
to fuel their creativity and quench their thirst.
Forager sees a lot of hazy, juicy IPAs on the horizon.
As for Disgruntled, they remade Reaper, which is basically the same beer as Stupid Good but with citra and mosaic hops, to fit into the popular style. Plus, a double IPA version of Stupid Good, called Damn Good, hits next week.
This is one style poised for longevity in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.