Brewklyn Introduce Bangalore’s First NEIPA
Bangalore – we love Beer and Craft Beer. There are brewpubs springing up all over the city and very soon we’ll have a good 50-60 brewpubs to choose from. In the F&B space, we keep seeing continual change to keep patrons excited.
Craft Beer is meant to be exciting in a similar fashion. As a country we lag behind in batch consistency and overall quality but there are a lot of brewpubs making a great effort. We also lag in consumer awareness about Beer and that’s slowly improving. Some brewpubs will stick to tried and tested formulas and produce the same 4 styles we’ve all come to know – A light beer (blonde ale or lager), Wheat Beers (Hefes & Wits), Seasonal (Fruit based or could be a pale ale or IPA), Stout/Porter or a Dunkel. Some brewpubs do some of these styles exceptionally well but we all need variety right – the spice of life and all that?
It’s good to see Brewpubs experimenting. In Bangalore, the leader of experimentation is Arbor Brewing Co and now there are several others that have followed their example. It’s great to hear about beers made with Ragi, mangoes, Kiwi fruit, Cucumber based ales and lagers, Masala beers, Chocolate and Coffee infused porters and stouts and several interesting IPAs made with a variety of interesting hops.
We’ve never seen a NEIPA before until now. It’s a relatively new style that’s become very popular in the US and fits right into the war – East Coast vs West Coast.
The New England IPA (NEIPA) is unlike anything else out there. It’s an American (East Coast) IPA with a lot of tropical fruit, fuller bodied, smoother in mouthfeel, less perceived bitterness and extremely hazy thanks to excessive dry hopping (hops added post fermentation during conditioning that give you lots of flavor and aroma and negligible bitterness).
Most brewers will use a late hopping regime and an extensive dry hop schedule to reduce bitterness but extract plenty of flavor and aroma. The grain bill also includes flaked oats or wheat or both to give a smoother mouthfeel and heavier body. There are adjustments (more chlorides) to water chemistry as well to ensure a smoother mouthfeel and increase the body of the beer. There is a special yeast strain that can be used for this style or a brewer can either use a neutral or fruity English or American yeast strain.
A NEIPA can range in alcohol strength and IBUS quite heavily but one thing remains uniform – lower perceived bitterness and a smoother mouthfeel.
It’s an expensive beer to make and does not travel well. The brewery that is responsible for making this style popular is The Alchemist with their NEIPA, Heady Topper which made its debut in 2011 and rapidly gained popularity. It isn’t classified as a style on it’s own by the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) however other associations see it as such.
Just remember this – the NEIPA is an unfiltered IPA with loads of hop flavor and aroma without that harsh bitterness, smooth on the palate and looks like “juice” thanks to all the haze from the proteins from the mash. Don’t confuse the appearance with that of a green beer!
Ale Capone – Brewklyn’s NEIPA
They started brewing early this year and like any other microbrewery faced early teething issues. These have been sorted out now and what impresses me is that are the only microbrewery in Bangalore at present that only sells Craft Beer and nothing else. Being the first in their locality – Kalyan Nagar that’s a very risky move but it has paid off for them. Business is good and the brewing team is slowly starting to experiment and their batches have improved tremendously since my last visit in February.
When they let me know they were going to do a NEIPA a few weeks ago, I asked them if they were sure and they responded they were confident they could pull it off and I’m glad they said that.
Voila – Here it is!
Ale Capone | NEIPA | 4.5% ABV | 28 IBU | Rs. 275/ 500ml
Gold/Amber and hazy/opaque in appearance with a thick white rocky head. Good carbonation and retention. The hops are doing their job. I suppose if you pour into another glass and cut the head, you could make it look like Orange Juice but that’s not needed.
This is where it gets interesting. You can definitely pick out the citrus and green mango on first whiff but as it warms I was transported back to college. It reminded me of weed my roommate once brought back from Seattle. It was sticky, resinous and had this specific pungent odor. I am assuming this is what folks who drink NEIPAs describe as “Dank”. This one does have that Dankness to it. I also picked up some floral notes but not really the tropical fruits I was hoping to get. From a hop perspective you definitely have Citra in there and maybe something like Amarilo.
The aromas translate to the palate but what stuns you is the mouthfeel and perceived bitterness. 28 IBU really doesn’t feel like 28 IBU. On the palate, extremely smooth and almost creamy thanks to the flaked oats with a hint of residual sweetness. The slight bitter finish appears very late but is not unpleasant. If you’re an IPA fan, this bizarre IPA tricks you into wanting to have another sip. It’s flavorful without a long lasting bitter finish.
Overall Impression – 4/5
Personally I’ve never tried a NEIPA before and have only read about them until now. The 4/5 is what I believe good execution of the style – this beer fits the loose definition of what the NEIPA is all about.
What could be improved – I think a few Aus/NZ hops thrown into the mix can really add some high intensity tropical fruit aromas & flavors. Perhaps they will be able to do this for the next batch.
For Bangalore and India, another great alternative to a dry hopped pale ale that is so low in perceived bitterness, it maybe a great gateway beer for those who normally wouldn’t venture into PA/IPA territory.
Food Pairing Options
The flavor of this IPA was unlike anything I’ve sampled before hence not much effort was put into really thinking about what would pair well with this.
However, the food selection & quality at Brewklyn is excellent. You can’t go wrong with their wood fired pizzas and meat appetizers.
The Kerala style chilli beef, blackbean beef and bullet (chilli) pork all work well with the IPA or the Wheat Porter. The Pepperoni Pizza and their customer pie (we chose pepperoni and chorizo) were excellent, as well.
Other Beers ON Tap
Besides the NEIPA, two other beers on tap really stood out – Brewklyn’s Finest -their Belgian Wit and Iron Mike – a hybrid Wheat Porter.
The Wit had a nice mix of orange peel and coriander and reminded me of a toned down version of Brewbot Mumbai’s Wit (which happens to be one of my favorite Wits in India along with Toit’s Tin Tin).
The Porter has all your normal porter characteristics (roasted notes, coffee, caramel and dark chocolate) but with an added graininess and smoother mouthfeel thanks to the wheat in the grain bill.
Overall Brewklyn has made progress since they started brewing and one can hope they continue this upward trajectory and continue to experiment along the way.
If you are not an IPA drinker, this is definitely something for you to try! Head over there and try Bangalore’s first NEIPA.
Cheers and Stay Frothy!
JJ The Keg
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