Dear Tria | January 8, 2019
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What’s the difference between West Coast IPA and New England IPA?
About three thousand miles. But seriously, folks, West Coast IPA is best considered the original American IPA, with San Diego being its mecca. The original IPA was developed in England out of necessity in the late 1700s; brewers added more hops and more alcohol so the beer wouldn’t spoil en route to India. The San Diego brewers added extra hops and alcohol because they wanted to, dude! The bracing bitterness of a West Coast IPA is a feature, not a bug. Famed legacy breweries such as Stone, AleSmith, Ballast Point, Green Flash and Pizza Port are credited with making West Coast IPA, in essence, our national craft beer style. Until now, that is.
The New England IPA (NEIPA) phenomenon is extraordinary, with the style going from almost zero presence in 2015 to being a necessary style for most brewers - that is, if they want to keep paying the electric bill! The two things you need to know about NEIPA: 1. The beers are juicy; 2. The beers are hazy. In fact, The Brewers Association recognized NEIPA as a distinct style in March 2018, but they actually refer to it as “Juicy or Hazy IPA.”
Brewers use oodles of hops in NEIPA for aroma, not bitterness. NEIPAs receive little or zero bittering hops, but crazy amounts of aroma hops, either later in the boil or after the boil (dry hopping). The aroma of a NEIPA should make you feel like you’re in an orange grove or about to eat a tropical fruit salad. American-style ales, such as IPA, had always been filtered and clear, but haziness is what NEIPA is after. In addition to not filtering the beer, there are additional ways to get the haze: low flocculating yeast (it’s a thing) and additions of wheat and/or oats are two tricks of the trade. The bottom line is that if the beer is clear it’s clearly not a NEIPA. If the notion of orange juice with extra pulp plus tropical fruit flavors and alcohol appeals to you, NEIPA is your beer.
John Kimmich of Vermont’s The Alchemist has been credited for launching NEIPA and his Heady Topper is one of the most coveted hoppy beers. Other Vermont and Massachusetts breweries followed suit, notably Trillium and Tree House. Of the three, only The Alchemist has PA distribution, but it’s limited and allocated. Be sure to follow Tria on social media; we usually announce The Alchemist sightings at Tria.
Many IPA purists disdain the NEIPA haze craze. As with every trend (or fad), there’s some great stuff, there’s garbage, and a whole lot in between. But today’s beer drinkers demand NEIPA, with sales of insipid industrial light beer declining. So we say, bring it on.
Can I eat the rinds of cheeses? Should I? Which ones?
Short answer: Yes! Unless it’s paper, wax, cloth or something that is visibly Not Food. Slightly longer answer: Most cheese styles have natural rinds, meaning that the exterior crust forms naturally through the process of aging. Whether it’s Brie, Blue or Parmagiano-Reggiano, the rind is simply curds transformed by the work of microbes exposed to air, plus the help of some salt. So since it’s just, well, more cheese, it’s totally edible! But that doesn’t mean it’s always delicious. Because rinds are where microbes like to hang out in concentration, they can be really intense in flavor, such as a washed Alpine like Gruyère. And sometimes they don’t taste like much at all. Give it a whiff; your nose will let you know. I do recommend at least trying the rind. Many cheeses such as Brie styles ripen from the outside in, meaning that although the rind doesn’t have much flavor itself, the most flavorful, most luscious part of the cheese is just under the rind, and you won’t be able to eat it all if you avoid the rind. So try it once, and if you don’t like it, I promise I won’t make you do it again. There are some instances when rinds aren’t edible, and that’s when they’re made out of wax (such as Gouda), cloth (such as Clothbound Cheddar), occasionally something wild like spruce bark (such as classic Vacherin Mont d’Or or award-winning Harbison), or there’s a paper label stuck to the rind. Don’t eat those. I mean, they’re technically edible, or rather, required to be non-toxic, but blech.
Below: photos of edible rinds, except the last picture which has a black wax rind.