Latest posts by makeitsnowondem (see all)
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Hey guys! Remember me? It’s make it snow, the beer guy! No, not that beer guy. The alot of beer. Circumstances have conspired — specifically, they’ve conspired with my innate laziness — to keep me away for some time now. A lot’s changed, but perhaps most importantly, I’m in Denver now. If you’re speculating right now that I’ve been too busy enjoying all the new beers available to me to actually sit down and write about any of them, well, I’d be hard pressed to tell you you’re wrong. But I’m back, and I want to talk about a subject that I’ve been mulling over for quite a while now: the New England IPA.
Hazy, unfiltered IPAs in general are very much in vogue these days, thanks specifically to the ascendant New England IPA substyle. You’ll see the broader category described variously as NEIPA or “unfiltered IPA” or the silly but aesthetically apt “milkshake IPA” (owing to the brew’s appearance of extreme thickness) and the terms probably aren’t fully interchangeable, but the beers are all part of the same trend. At their best, they’re full of tropical fruit flavor and they finish with a satisfyingly bitterness. The trouble is, a lot of them are really bad — muddled, dirty-tasting, with bitterness well in excess of any actually enjoyable flavor. I would say that I like most beers, and yet I find myself disliking at least half of these. It’s as though brewers feel obligated to produce a beer of this type, but aren’t aware of any requirements for the style other than that it appear cloudy. Regardless, the beer industry at large has so far been deaf to my complaints, and everyone is still making these damn things. Everyone, including one of my favorite breweries from back in Austin, Hops & Grain, who’ve managed to find shelf space in Denver through the Crooked Stave Artisans distributing program. Thank God, they’ve clearly put some thought into their version.
Their beer, cleverly dubbed Haze County (a play on Austin’s nearby Hayes County) pours an undeniably hazy, pale burnt orange with a thin head. It’s not a gorgeous beer to look at, but as much as I appreciate the ruby highlights on a brown ale or the look of a tall, fluffy glass of hefeweizen, beer’s not for looking at, it’s for drinking. Just sticking my nose in the glass gives me a good idea what I’m in for with this one. The aroma reminds me of the orange danish rolls I used to eat on Sunday mornings as a kid, all orange and sweetness and a little bit of bite. And that’s very much the way it plays out on the palate too; smooth, creamy, with maybe a bit of peach and blackberry to round the flavors out. Haze County’s 8.2% ABV makes it a bit of a borderline DIPA, but it’s full-bodied enough that I doubt I’d notice, tasting it blind. Hops & Grain has put out some other pretty good IPAs, particularly in its Greenhouse and Dispensary series, but Haze County tops them all.
lady snow says: It seems a little saltier than I’m used to double IPAs tasting.
make it snow says: That’s not a typical IPA flavor but I kind of see what you mean. Kind of on the finish, right?
lady snow says: Yeah. I mean, it’s not bad. Even if it did actually have salt in it, I like pickletinis, so that’s fine.
make it snow says: And it’s definitely not actual salt, because no one would put that in an IPA. I thought when I tried this that it reminded me of an orange danish roll, how does that strike you?
lady snow says: Wait, you mean like an orange cinnamon roll?
make it snow says: I don’t know. My dad always called them danishes. Is that something different?
lady snow says: Yeah, a danish is a different kind of pastry.
[five minutes of Googling later]
make it snow says: Okay, so danishes are a different pastry, but people also sometimes refer to orange cinnamon rolls as orange danishes. Anyway!
lady snow says: It doesn’t taste that citrusy or fruity to me. I’ve definitely had IPAs that I thought tasted more fruity.
make it snow says: That’s interesting, because I would definitely place this on the fruity end of the IPA spectrum. How’s the hop flavor presenting for you, then? Is it more resinous, or just bitter?
lady snow says: I’d say it’s a pretty well-balanced hoppiness, with a lot of flavors contributing. It starts out sort of citrus-fruity, then there’s the saltiness I was talking about, and it finishes fairly bitter. I like this pretty well; it’s more mellow double IPA with a lot going on.
make it snow is an alot of beer and Denver Zoo member. He drank two and a half Hops & Grain Haze County Double IPAs while writing this review, and lady snow drank the other half. Speaking of great Texas IPAs, he’ll reiterate his recommendation that you check out Lone Pint Yellow Rose; he brought two four-packs with him and he’s gone through both of them since but the beer still holds up marvelously against all the great new IPAs he’s found in Colorado. Go Houston Outlaws.