But even though the style has gotten popular and increasingly available from breweries across the country, most of the ones you can get your hands on taste nothing like the top hazy IPAs of Massachusetts, Maine, or Vermont.
So after first being exposed to the style on a trip to the New England area, it took a few months before I found one brewed locally (Tennessee at the time) that ticked all the right boxes.
Nashville’s Bearded Iris Brewing did just that, consistently turning out NEIPA style beers that I could get at my local store within a week or two of canning. Even better, the brewery constantly tinkered with different recipes in the style so there always seemed to be something new to try – and nearly all of the offerings were excellent.
When I moved to the dead middle of the country, I wasn’t sure I’d have a local option to satisfy my cravings for a hazy citrus or tropical juice bomb. I’m well outside the distribution range of my previous go to, and even with my proximity to Chicago, St. Louis, and Denver, most of the very best from those cities skips right over Kansas.
Kansas City standout Boulevard doesn’t seem real interested in embracing the style, and while it is nice to have a local brewery as solid as Manhattan’s Tallgrass Brewing, they have yet to feature a beer in the taproom that hit on the taste or mouthfeel of a good NEIPA.
I had resigned myself to making the best of the new distribution in the state and enjoying a hazy IPA whenever it popped up on a menu during my travels. But then one day while I was scouring the shelves of the local beer store for something new, I stumbled across a six pack of Roughtail Brewing’s Everything Rhymes with Orange.
Roughtail nails it with this one.”
The description on the can was promising – boasting soft mouthfeel and citrusy juicy hop character to go along with the signature haze. But having all the right words on the outside is not the same as hitting all the right notes on the inside – I’ve been let down by bad attempts at the hazy IPA before.
As soon as I cracked the can, the aroma of oranges filled the room. It was overpowering honestly, but in a way that was completely intoxicating. Orange flesh, rind, orange candy like sweetness were all present over a background of other citrus and tropical fruit notes – maybe even some berry?
True to the style, Everything Rhymes with Orange was a beautiful hazy orange that was totally opaque but brightened in the light. A finger of fluffy white head faded away quickly, while the beer laced nicely in the glass.
This beer was an orange flavor explosion. The taste of orange flesh was most present with just a slight rind bitterness, and the orange candy sweetness from the aroma was present as well. ERWO finished dry with aspects of the orangey sweetness sticking around too. I wouldn’t call this beer super juicy as the taste didn't spike in that way – it’s more of a loud continuous development of flavor.
For all the aggressiveness in the taste, the feel was pillowy soft. Pulling off a full bodied beer with this type of smooth softness is an accomplishment in mouthfeel that, to me, is unique to the New England IPA.
Roughtail nails it with this one. Maybe it is slightly out of balance with more fruit and sweet than bitterness, but it’s a taste and feel that somehow doesn’t leave you needing anything to clean it up.