On Hazy, Juicy New England IPAs

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tree House Julius IPA
I've written before about beer's inherent summer advantage. Summer is indeed upon us and in an effort to stay current in beverage trends I've been exploring New England IPAs.

They're hazy visually, they're juicy on the nose and on the palate, have shades of a tropical smoothie, and are high in alcohol. They sell for $5 a can in 4-pack 16 ounce cans if you can get a hold of them.

Purists hate them and consumers can't get enough of them. Parallels with high alcohol fruit bomb wines are abundant: Both are absolutely delicious.

See: 10 Reasons Why Brewers and Drinkers Hate on Hazy IPA

I went to an end of season little league gathering and was fortunate to have a friend bring some cans of the legendary Heady Topper from Vermont along with some cans of Trillium.

Trillium Scaled Up Double IPA
My goodness, was that can of Trillium eye-opening and delicious.

There's something about experiencing something for the first time that can never be replicated. The setting. The can from a brewery so raw the label is a sticker on a generic can. The flavor profile perfectly fit the occasion. Amazing and outstanding.

We headed over to Trillium's facility in Canton the first chance we got. It's a great scene, full of energy and lively but not so crowded and inconvenient as to leave us empty handed.

We bought some cans, had a taste from beers they were pouring on tap, got a bite from a food truck and were on our way.
Trillium's Brewery in Canton, MA
Trillium's beers are, for my taste, absolutely terrific. They seem to gain favor with Boston-area enthusiasts who are fed up with the hassle associated with procuring Tree House from their facility an hour away in the center of Massachusetts.

I haven't made it out there yet but my father-in-law was kind enough to pick some up for me on his way home to Connecticut a few weeks back. This gave me a chance to try Tree House's signature American IPA: Julius.

What strikes me most about Tree House Julius is how utterly devoid of harshness it is. Any of the rough edges one might associate with beer have been sandblasted off. What's left is a beverage that's mouth-filling, satisfying and thick.

The opacity is evident - almost like an orange juice with calcium added.
Tree House Julius IPA
As I was thinking about whether this trend is the wave of the future -or- the next ZIMA I couldn't help but think about how 95% of the beer on retailer shelves are not this.

Until I went over to a nearby grocery store and found this Samuel Adams New England IPA. Hazy & Juicy! In a 16 ounce can!

I couldn't help but think about the guys over at Sam Adams having a meeting. Shaking their heads in dismay at what these upstart brewers were doing in their back yard. And saying "We can do this. Easy."

The packaging and product are strikingly similar to Tree House Julius.
Sam Adams New England IPA: Hazy & Juicy
I had a taste of these two beers side by side and they're about what you'd expect from looking at them. You can tell from the pictures how much denser and opaque the Julius is than the Sam Adams. That conveys to the nose and mouthfeel.

Ironically, if Sam Adams is known for "rounding the edges off" in their stylistic interpretations, I found Julius to be a "rounder" beer. The Sam tastes more like a regular beer. The Julius is a thing unto itself.

Sam's New England IPA is a good proxy for the style. A viable window into what New England Hazy IPA is about and a heck of a lot cheaper and more widely available. At $8.99 for a 4-pack this is a terrific slightly more upscale beer to have in your cooler for a summer party than Sam Summer Ale, a personal favorite.

You know, beers are a funny thing. Unlike wine where the final product is mostly driven by terroir and the winemaker's hand, beer is driven by regional stylistic brewer preferences.

But that doesn't make these beers any less interesting to me.

It's fascinating how beverage preferences change over time. And if you're up for trying new things I'd encourage you to seek out some juicy, hazy New England IPAs.

Check 'em out:

Trillium Brewing Company
110 Shawmut Road, Canton MA 02021

Tree House Brewing Company
129 Sturbridge Road, Charlton, MA

Sam Adams
30 Germania St, Boston, MA 02130


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