- Mike Riedel
I'm not 100 percent sure, but I'm pretty confident there's a law out there demanding that all breweries—no matter where they are—produce at least one Northeast-style IPA. Just in case you need a refresher, these are very murky, low bitterness IPAs that are big with hop-infused fruitiness. Just because an IPA has magical haze doesn't necessarily mean it's got the goods. I've got two new IPAs—one hazy, one not—to pick apart.
Kiitos Northeast IPA: This beer pours a very murky, textbook turbid, golden straw color with three fingers of puffy, somewhat bubbly white head. There's some nice lacing as the foam lazily recedes. As this creamy meringue spills onto your senses with wafting perfume, you're greeted with notes of tropical fruits, citrus, orchard and vinous fruits, all wrapped up in a grassy hop cocoon. It starts sweet on the tongue; grainy and bready caramel malt follow, reminiscent of ripened tree fruit as they merge with the coming citrus and tropical medleys. Muddled citrus pith carries on from here, with a touch of papaya and pineapple. Leafy, weedy and dank forest pine rounds out the overall sweetness. It finishes on the sweet side, with lots of citrus and exotic fruity essences building up the lingering caramel malt, while a few hints of ester-y alcohol make themselves known. The carbonation is fairly tame, and the body is at a solid middleweight range. It's quite smooth, with a nice fruity and airy creaminess present from the onset.
Overall: This 7.3 percent ABV beer is a pleasantly concocted iteration of the Northeast way of making a differentiated IPA. Lots of big fruit, edgy pine and, yes, it has that haziness factor reminiscent of orange juice. It's not as much of an eye-opener as when I first tried Tree House's Julius, but as they say, imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.
2 Row Hop Dust Ekuanot: It pours a mostly clear, medium-gold copper color with a good two fingers of white head that leaves a thick layer of lacing. The aroma is full of citrus and piney hops, lemon citrus, a little pineapple and mixed tropical fruit. Once in the mouth, you get slight caramel, citrus hops, light mixed tropical fruit, lemon and grapefruit. The hops flavor tapers off into a slightly astringent citrus rind finish that, oddly, has a renewal of lingering caramel flavors. There's a moderate creaminess and good mouth feel, making for a worthy entry into the traditional clear IPA category. Fortunately, this has less overt tropical fruit influences, though there is some fruit, particularly pineapple with lots of citrus and rind. The hints of caramel in the finish of this 8.1 percent ABV brew really makes it worthy to me; made with lupulin powder, it has an interesting flavor progression that kept my interest. I'll try a few of the next hop mixes to see how they work.
Overall: Wow, never underestimate 2 Row's ability to match the best of what the national beer scene has to offer. The bravado of their IPA attitude is something that's rarely seen in this market, and I'm kicking myself for not buying another six pack.
Just remember: A turbid IPA doesn't make it a brilliant IPA. It adds to the presentation—and, in my opinion, influences your palate into thinking you're actually drinking juice. No matter if it's crystal clear or cloudy as pond water, trust your tongue and not the hype.
As always, cheers!