The latest brewery to take a stab at the New England Style IPA comes from BrewDog, a brewery that started only 11 years ago in Scotland.
A little background on this brewery will lend itself nicely to a further appreciation of their spin on the New England IPA. BrewDog exploded onto the beer scene in the United Kingdom, mainly due to their infamous imperial stout called Tokyo, a 12% ABV oak-aged stout that sparked public outrage. This outrage reached Scotland’s Chairman of Alcohol Focus, whose comment on Tokyo was that “it is utterly irresponsible to bring out a beer which is so strong.”
It was a misguided effort to control an industry which was not quite understood across the pond at the time. This outcry got louder when BrewDog responded in 2009 with Tokyo*, an 18.2% variant of the stout that was one of the strongest beers ever brewed in the United Kingdom at that time. The media began blaming BrewDog for promoting binge drinking, which, as we know, isn’t the activity one would associate with a high ABV stout. This “wild accusation,” according to the folks at BrewDog, “made as much sense as blaming a Michelin star restaurant for an obesity epidemic.” The brewery responded again with a 0.5% ABV “liquid protest” beer that they called Nanny State.
In 2018, BrewDog is better known for their wide variety of beers available around the world. One of its newer beers, Hazy Jane IPA, was not brewed in Scotland at all, but rather at its first United States brewery in Canal Winchester, Ohio.
Rather than an average rendition, BrewDog was able to create a nod to the hype, while still leaving their mark on the ubiquitous style.”
The can states that this beer is a “full-tilt fruit hit,” and when it’s first cracked open, a clear scent of pineapple floods the air. The beer pours as one would expect a New England Style IPA to pour—cloudy, unfiltered and golden-orange in color. The pour accentuates the pineapple smell, which finishes with a soft hint of alcohol. The first flavors that present themselves are the aforementioned “full-tilt fruit hit” notes of mango, pineapple, orange zest and lime. A very refreshing, albeit predictable, initial hit of flavor.
However, knowing a bit of the backstory about BrewDog, and understanding its philosophy, I was not the least bit surprised when the strong bite at the end of the flavor profile kicked in. Citra hops are clearly present throughout—the soft, fleshy, tropical fruits notes synonymous with this hop variety lend themselves perfectly to the New England IPA. These fruit flavors fade into the more aggressive Mosaic and Simcoe hop flavor profiles, which provide more of a bitter finish than expected in the “juice bombs” that are dominating brewery taps across the nation.
The bitter finish was a welcomed BrewDog spin on the increasingly common beer style. The aftertaste is not only filled with fruit, but also the hop flavor that IPA-drinkers fell in love with in the first place. Rather than an average rendition, BrewDog was able to create a nod to the hype, while still leaving their mark on the ubiquitous style.