Garrett Oliver: New England IPA is ‘based around Instagram culture’

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Trend: Oliver said that Brooklyn brewery were not interested in the New England IPA style
Trend: Oliver said that Brooklyn brewery were not interested in the New England IPA style

Related tags Brewery Beer

Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster, and beer author Garrett Oliver has criticised the trend of breweries producing hazy, low bitterness Indian Pale Ales – known as New England IPAs (NEIPA).

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser​ at a rare Brooklyn beer tasting at 40ft Brewery in Dalston, East London, Oliver called NEIPA a fad, and said Brooklyn brewery is not interested in producing imitations of the style.  

“I think it (NEIPA) is a fad,” he said. “These things come and go. I have seen a great many fads over my 28 years of brewing; three or four years ago it was black IPA – everyone brewed one. Now it is hard to find one.”

“New England IPA is a beer style that can be really tasty when it is well made, but it can't even sit on a shelf for two weeks. It has no shelf life to it at all. It is the first beer style based around Instagram culture and based around social media.

Jumping on the bandwagon

“It is based on the idea that you wait online or at a brewery to get some of this limited thing, and if you put it on a shelf for three weeks it will be bad after 10 days.”

The New England IPA, sometimes known as a Vermont IPA, is a style of beer that originates from the East Coast of the United States. The style is known for its fruity, juicy flavour and cloudy appearance, and has become increasingly popular among craft brewers in the UK in recent months.

On whether Brooklyn would seek to produce a NEIPA, Oliver said: “It's not something we are really interested in. We don't do bandwagon. We start things and then we wait for other people to come behind it. I've had great versions of the style, and it can be fun to drink, but I've also had a lot of bad ones.”

Oliver also lauded the UK beer scene for starting to take on influences from the rest of the world, and praised craft breweries such as Fourpure Brewing Co and Redchurch Brewery for their emphasis on beer quality.

Global influences

“The most exciting thing that is happening in the UK scene has been the UK discovering the rest of the world in a real way,” he said. “British brewing up until three to four years ago was still really British. It had some American influences, but it ignored all of these other traditions from the rest of Europe and the rest of the world.

“Now we are seeing people thinking in a really free form, creative fashion, and that is making British beer really special right now.

“There's a real influx of people into brewing who have a serious scientific background and that is helping a lot with the quality side too,” he continued. “That's where you see the success of breweries like Fourpure and Redchurch and guys like this who have serious people behind their beers.”

On the subject of whether beer could now stand alongside wine as a pairing for food, Oliver said: “Absolutely, and it is a big part of what Brooklyn brewery has been about for a long time. We work with some of the top restaurants in the world, and to me it is just amazing that we are now in the room with the wine guys.

“The flavours we are now producing are showing people that beer can bring everything to the table from a culinary point of view. That doesn't mean I am going to stop drinking wine. I love wine and I love cocktails, but beer is not just a simple thing. It can be simple or complex, just like wine.”

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