Today I have two hazy New England IPAs brought to you by true New Englanders. The first comes from a Chicago brewery that has has ties to the Northeast, while the second is from one of the breweries that first made NE IPAs and helped make the style as popular as it is today.
At the end of 2018 the Chicagoland area had 167 operating breweries. That high total surpassed even those cities known for their love of beer and brewing like Denver (158), Seattle (153), and San Diego (150) and allowed the Windy City to claim the top spot as the city with the most breweries in the United States.
Urban Renewal is one of those breweries that helped propelled Chicago into first place, opening last year in the Ravenswood neighborhood. As a newer brewery, they have a limited distribution across Chicagoland but have released 37 total beers in their short tenure.
Most of the brewers at Urban Renewal originated from Northeast and, recently, they decided it was finally time to make their own version of a New England IPA – Packy.
Packy is brewed with five types of malt and 60 pounds worth of Citra, El Dorado, Idaho 7, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops - two thirds of which (42 pounds) were used in dry hopping the beer. The beer is sold in four-packs of 16-ounce cans that cost $11, with each pint containing an ABV of 6.4% and just 29 IBU.
The brew poured very hazy and had a deep orange, almost copper color, with about a finger of white head topping the beer. After a few minutes, the sticky bubbles had fizzled down into a light dusting and laced the glass nicely as it departed.
Packy had a sweet and juicy smell that featured plenty of tropical and stone fruits. Tangerine, pineapple, peach, apricot, grapefruit, and lemon are just some of the notes that peaked out in the aroma. The malts were showcased by a flaked wheat characteristic that added some breadiness and more sweetness.
The first sip begins with a moderate fizz of carbonation and a burst of juicy hop flavors. Leading the way up front were notes of pineapple, tangerine, and grapefruit. There was the typical acidic burn of pineapple that was soothed by the sweetness of the tangerine and grapefruit.
Midway through, the grapefruit brought with it a bit of citrus rind bitterness. The malts were quick to respond though, adding notes of flaked wheat, caramel, and some biscuity flavors that blended nicely with the hops.
As the beer ends, it does so very cleanly. There are no lingering flavors, no bitter notes, no dryness. It just fades away slowly.
It was super, super sessionable. And, while Packy might not be as juicy as some New England IPAs, the brewers certainly honored their roots nicely as it fits the New England style well with its great flavors and drinkability.
The four-pack is certainly worth the $11 and I’m sure glad I have three more of these guys chilling in my fridge…hell, I might even crack another right now.
(P.S. – I did open another almost immediately after)
Next up, one of the OG breweries to make hazy IPAs - Trillium.
Trillium opened in South Boston back in 2013 and quickly established themselves as one of the best producers of New England IPAs. In 2015 they moved to a bigger place in Canton, Massachusetts to keep up with demand and, just last year, they opened up another full brewpub just around the corner from their original location.
Recently my family traveled to Boston where they gifted me a few of Trillium’s beers for my birthday (a nice surprise as I had never tried any of their stuff before). One of the ones they got me was their Double Dry Hopped Summer Street.
Summer Street is brewed with Columbus and Simcoe hops and four malt varieties but this version was dry hopped a second time with the Simcoe hops. It features a 7.2% ABV and, when available, it is a bit on the pricier side at $20 per four-pack.
The beer poured a super hazy orange color with about a finger of fluffy, eggshell white head building up. The foam quickly works its way down to a thin dusting, allowing access to the beer below.
On the nose, this brew is chalked full of juicy tropical fruit aromas. Grapefruit, orange, mango, and pineapple are among some of the fruits found here. There is also a biscuity malt backing that adds a hint of sweetness and some light hoppy pine.
My first sip began with a light hum of carbonation before the hops really kicked in. A blend of citrus hits my taste buds and featured orange, pineapple, and a bitterness stemming from a grapefruit and lemon peel flavor.
A couple of stone fruit flavors began to bloom across my tongue and featured notes peach and apricot that blended in nicely with the other fruits.
However, midway through the hops shifted gears. In just a few seconds they transitioned from bright tropical fruits to a more earthy flavor that brought notes of pine and some nuttiness.
The tree nut and pine flavors amplified the bitterness some in its the final moments and took the beer the rest of the way. There was one final push of grapefruit rind and orange that popped up very late but did very to quell the pine and more bitter ending.
Summer Street ends with a resinous dry feeling with some of that pine peeking through as well.
The 7.2% is hidden well but it’s didn’t have many of the usual New England-style qualities. This one has a bit more bitterness and less citrus than most NE IPAs – the Columbus hops adding a lot of the pine late and the bitterness lingering for quite some time afterwards.
That being said, it was still a solid IPA and quite the easy to drink. Any time you have the chance to get some Trillium, go for it.