What do you think of when you read the words New England IPA on a can? Do you think of somewhere in the US or do you think of a hazy, fruit forward but heavily hopped beer? I’m guessing the latter and I doubt you would go out of your way to track down a brewery based in New England to get your hands on one either!
Of course, in the globalised era in which we find ourselves and with the unrelenting craft beer explosion, the ingredients that make these beers are readily available all around the world, as are the brewers making them. It’s one of the exciting aspects of the craft beer scene, the democratisation of beer styles and the ease with which brewers can share and tweak recipes. But are we now missing a trick?
We don’t really talk about terroir when we talk about beer, but, of course, there was a time when beers were made in styles local to the regions in which they were made, using ingredients from those regions. Brewers would be keen to tell you how clean the local water was, or how freshly picked the hops were from the local hop fields. These elements, and the collective shared local knowledge really is the definition of terroir, and led to the creation of some of the bedrock styles of beer. So regionality has been, and probably should be, an important factor driving the evolution of beer.
Microbreweries optimise the notion of local in many ways - but their focus is often more on culture and community and not necessarily regionality per se. As we continue to classify and define the spiraling beer world, wouldn’t it be nice to see more regional styles appear? The Wellington IPA using hops from Martinborough anyone?
It’s getting easier to get your hands on beers from all around the world thanks to the likes of Beer Cellar and in this vein, here are some notes on Clown Shoes Double Dry Hopped NEIPA, a New England IPA from, you guessed it, New England, USA.
The colour is a hazy amber gold, not as light and luminous as I had expected but appealing all the same. The nose is big, offering the juicy cornucopia of tropical fruits and citrus that you’d hope for in this style. The double dry hopping has added some layers of dank too and the palate is hoppier with slightly more bitterness than a classical NEIPA. Lovely balance though, very drinkable at 6.75% and a soft velvety mouthfeel thanks to the oats.
It’s a lovely drop and it’s great to think that I can love local and support a style that I admire by buying from the region where it first appeared - even if that region is literally thousands of miles away.