Thursday, January 18, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Beer forecast: cloudy with the taste of Julius and Northeast IPAS

IPA trends are a funny thing. A decade ago, the most respected IPAs in the domestic beer scene were aggressive, no-holds-barred affairs, characterized by heavy bitterness with thick, earthy pine and resin flavors followed by a bone-dry finish.

More recently, a new breed of IPAs has come into favor, recognizable by tropical fruit aromas and citrus-dominant flavors, balanced with a soft-but-present malt base.

You wouldn't think twice to hear a beer drinker commend an IPA for its aggressiveness, or its lush, tropical flavors. But how about the latest IPA trend, which has enthusiasts lining up for hours to snag fresh growlers of an IPA that proudly touts its lack of clarity — in other words, densely opaque — as a major identifying characteristic?

To residents of Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts, this isn't surprising. Breweries such as Hill Farmstead, the Alchemist, Maine Beer Co., Tree House and Trillium have positioned themselves at the vanguard of a new era of Northeast IPAs — a far cry from the malty, British-American hybrid IPAs previously characterizing the East Coast IPA style — that are easily recognized by their turbid appearance.

One of the most popular beers in this category is Julius, from Tree House Brewing. It doesn't take long to figure out where the name comes from, considering its murky, orange smoothielike appearance.

But what exactly is going on here? Many home-brewed IPAs and commercial IPAs alike have cloudy appearances but don't taste anything like these intense, bursting-with-flavor brews coming out of the Northeast. And why do we care about beer clarity in the first place?

I'll answer the second question first. Beer clarity is considered desirable in most styles for two reasons: aesthetics and quality control. The first reason is a given, but the second is not as clear (pun intended). Haziness in a beer that's not supposed to be hazy (e.g., a pilsner or British-style IPA) is an indicator of possible infection — wild yeast and/or bacteria that has gained traction in the fermentation cycle, causing undesirable flavors.

Some beers, like hefeweizen or witbier, are hazy primarily due to high amounts of wheat used in the brewing process, which adds protein to the finished, unfiltered beer. The protein particles suspended in the beer make it cloudy, which is exacerbated by cold temperatures, an effect known as chill haze. Chill haze does not affect beer flavor much, if at all.

Although the haziness of these new-school IPAs appears similar to what's going on in unfiltered wheat beers, the reason for the cloudiness is actually large amounts of hops. The full explanation is boring (trust me), but the short explanation is that polyphenolic compounds in hops bind to other particles in the beer, which contribute a cloudiness akin to the protein-based chill haze.

Home brewers are familiar with this effect, as a dry-hopped IPA always comes out less clear than it was prior to adding the dry hops. Additional cold conditioning, clarification, or filtering can remove the haze, but it strips some of the flavor, which is exactly what people have come to associate with these murky brews. These beers need to be as fresh as possible, which means no time to strip anything — they need that straight-from-the-bright-tank taste.

So is it all hype, or is there something to this hazy IPA craze? As usual, it's a bit of both. You don't need turbidity to capture some of the vivid, juicy, orange-and-apricot flavors that these beers are prized for, but you also can't quite replicate them without it. If you leave them in the fridge for a month, they'll clear up some, just like any other beer. But they won't taste quite the same. The haze isn't everything, but it's very certainly something.

Although you might not be able to get your hands on fresh cans of Heady or Julius, you can always wheel on down to Cycle Brewing in St. Petersburg to try Crank, a Citra hop-based brew that owes much to the current turbid IPA trend in the Northeast. It looks like orange juice and it tastes a bit like it, too. Whether or not that makes for a great IPA is an exercise for the reader — an exercise that I highly recommend.

[email protected]; @WordsWithJG

Comments
Bar review: Florida spirits and brews at the newest Local Draught House in Tampa

Bar review: Florida spirits and brews at the newest Local Draught House in Tampa

I donít consider myself "old" ó though I have gotten into a bad habit of informing door people insistent on checking my ID that Iím halfway to 70. But Iím frequently made aware of how far removed my lifestyle is from that of my 20s.So when I walked i...
Published: 01/18/18
Local craft beer of the week: Electric Wizard IPA from 7venth Sun Brewery

Local craft beer of the week: Electric Wizard IPA from 7venth Sun Brewery

The past six months have been kind to Dunedinís 7venth Sun Brewery. In August, the breweryís long-awaited Tampa expansion finally happened, with its much larger Seminole Heights facility and tasting room opening in a town eager to try its range of ul...
Published: 01/18/18
Shake Shack, Momofuku and more: Please come to Tampa Bay

Shake Shack, Momofuku and more: Please come to Tampa Bay

Fabio is coming! Not the Fabio on your romance novel, with the billowing hair and large quantities of artificial butter. This Fabio, in all likelihood, uses real butter. And olive oil. Fabio Viviani, the charming Top Chef alum known for appearances...
Published: 01/17/18
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Published: 01/17/18
Shake Shack inches closer to Tampa Bay with new Florida restaurant

Shake Shack inches closer to Tampa Bay with new Florida restaurant

Beloved burger restaurant Shake Shack, which once inspired hungry diners to wait in hours-long lines at New York's Madison Square Park before expanding with dozens of locations across the U.S., is inching closer to Tampa Bay. A lease agreement †with...
Published: 01/17/18
Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

By Ellie KriegerI recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as "cleanse" and "detox," which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for "extreme diet." But part of cultivating a healthy, balanc...
Published: 01/17/18
We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

I sat at my desk eating chunked pineapple straight out of the can, reading about how much fruit and vegetables we should all be eating every day: 1 1/2 to two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 to three cups of vegetables, at a minimum, per the United States Depar...
Published: 01/17/18
Taste test: pot stickers

Taste test: pot stickers

Whenever I order meals at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant I always look for pot stickers on the menu. The tasty Asian dumplings are filled with pork or chicken and veggies and cooked with a perfect balance of steaming and frying. The reason I order ...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. Weíre talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more ó the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and thatís good

Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and thatís good

TAMPASeldom have I paid such close attention to a restaurant closure, remodeling and reopening. Byblos Cafe began a major renovation last year, keeping the restaurant open as long as possible during the summer with some nifty temporary walls to shiel...
Published: 01/16/18