New England IPA Series - Is it the Yeast?

drew's picture

The IPA is the king of the current American craft beer scene and in recent years the new belle of the Hop Ball has hailed from New England. Heady Topper from Vermont's Alchemist was the first to catch beer lover's attention and since then many beers in the same vein have appeared. Skipping over a great many of the discussion of the style centering on the word "juicy" - a number of beer exhibit an intense hazy appearance. This murk is a controversial part of the equation (not every example has it for instance). Style aficionados credit the haze not to unsettled yeast like detractors do, but instead to an unique synergistic effect of yeast strain, haze positive adjuncts like flaked oats and essential oil heavy hops freely larded in the whirlpool.  

This will be the first of a few experiments exploring the nature of the style as it currently works (in theory)

Experiment Status: 


Proposed By: 



Does the yeast choice generate the haze in a "New England Style IPA"


There will be a noticeable visual difference between beers fermented with a Conan strain and a "California" strain.

Brewing Sessions Needed: 



Special Equipment/Process: 

  • For this one and all the NE IPA experiments that we do - we'll be asking testers to use opaque testing cups to avoid visual influence. Record separate observations about the visual impact of the beer as well.
  • Use opaque cups for the testing to avoid visual cues - also be prepared with clear cups to record visual difference

Special Observations: 

Observe and record fermentation temperatures and final clarity

Experimental Procedure: 

1) Prepare two separate starters of the yeast strains. Both 2L and all the yeast starters to decant prior to pitching

2) Brew enough volume of the target recipe (Israel Bissell NE IPA) to split the wort into two equal fermenters. Chill and prep the wort/fermenters exactly the same

3) To one volume, pitch the Conan strain. To the second portion pitch the California strain.

4) Ferment both batches in the same space and under the same conditions, especially temperature. Match the fermenters and other equipment.

5)After fermentation subsides, record the length of fermentation and the final gravities.

6)Package the two beers in exactly the same fashion. (Bottle primed with sugar, kegs and force carbonated, etc) - Record packaging methodology.

7) Perform a triangle test and record the results. Record the apparent haze of the samples and # of days since packaging the test was performed.

8) Ask the testers for their observations on the samples. DO NOT Reveal the Difference between the samples.

9) Discuss the results and record any further observations.

Further Exploration Paths: 

Haze inducing ingredients - oats/wheat Water chemistry Different hop choices (more classical American C hops for instances with lower oil levels) How does haze change over time? If haze is present, would fining/cold crashing change the haze level and flavor of the beer?
Lets get started

I tend to make this type of beer a lot these days and have already played around with a number of the variables mentioned above (WY1318 vs TYB Vermont, effect of finings on haze, SO4:Cl of 1:3 or 3:1, NE style IPA with WLP090).

I'm keen to get started as I have a few days home alone coming up in a of couple weeks (its hard to find time to brew when you have 2 year old triplets). So if we can get a preliminary date in the calendar and flesh out a few details I can get this (and maybe even the saison stall expt) done.

I was one of the folks proposing a similar experiment and suggested using Ed Coffeys HopWards recipe as its a go to in my brewery. The only problem I can see with this recipe is that is uses a lot of flaked oats (18%) and maybe you guys want to start simple? I think a simple malt base of 50% MO / 50% pilsner could be a good starting point if we want to start by ruling out high protein adjunct derived haze.

Personally, I would prefer to use WY1318 London III (as its my house strain and well WY sponsors the podcast...) instead of buying TYB Vermont (I have also done a split batch expt with these two before and not been able to tell the difference myself in blind tastings despite noticing a "difference" when I know whats what). It might also be interesting to test something like WLP090 San Diego superyeast as the Cal strain as it floccs so well and again might help in ascertaining if any remaining haze is hop or yeast derived.

Also... as its NE IPA I think

Also... as its NE IPA I think new school tropical hops all the way (sorry Denny) and lots of them. Citra / Mosaic / Nelson / Equinox / Idaho 7 etc...

I know you guys like to keep things simple to be able to see if the test variable (yeast in this case) is really detectable. But in this case I really think we need to use a shitload of late and dry hops otherwise we cant really say we are testing the effect on a NE IPA

drew's picture
Here's my take

I'm going to generate a "traditional" (someone get back to me with a definition of when something becomes "traditional") NE IPA bill and the only variable in this case will be the yeast. 

There is actually three yeast

There is actually three yeast strains that can be used as Trillium uses WLP 007. You also need to take into consideration the water profile as many that have attempted to clone these IPA's have stated you need a high cloride to sulphate ratio in order to get that soft "Juicy" ipa burst. I went 150:50 on my last brew so we'll see how that works out.

drew's picture
Additional strains will have

Additional strains will have to wait for future testing - for instance at some point we'll want a "Conan/Vermont" strain in there.

Also, I've read a lot of conflicting water ratios from various brewers so that's why we've settled around the 1:1 ratio (or realistically slightly under that) for these trials.

quirkzoo's picture
A Hazy Treatise by Cerebral Brewing

Addressing the "further exploration paths" above Drew asks, "If haze is present, would fining/cold crashing change the haze level and flavor of the beer?"

"What we are seeing is that when the beers we make in this way are fined with something like Biofine, things just get all weird and flavors and aromas get much more muddy and slightly diminished."

I think it is also interesting to point out that the haze is not primarily connected to yeast in suspension as they have observed that,

"under the microscope, Rare Trait, our flagship beer produced with these methods has around fifty thousand yeast cells per milliliter straight from the faucet. At the time I wrote this, that was less than double the amount of yeast found in our more clear (brighter) beers."


My T-Rex's name is Broccolisaurus

Great article

So they have counts of twice as much yeast in suspension versus their bright beers. Can anyone contextualise the 50,000 cells / ml number? what number of cells (if any) would a fined West Coast IPA have?

I was thinking of running cell counts at work for both beers once I have done this expt and this is a good benchmark to compare my beers to...

drew's picture
That would be great

That would be great additional information!

Cell counts

Managed to do this quickly today

Very rough and ready counts as both samples were poured straight from the tap this morning (after about two and a half weeks cold in the keezer) and contained very few cells, but ~2,500 cells / ml for Cal ale vs ~10,000 cells / ml for WY1318.

I then transferred two 7 ml samples into 15 ml centrifuge tubes and spun at 4000 rpm for 20 minutes to see if I could see a visual difference in the amount of solid material I could get to separate out. Again, very little in both but a noticeable difference in the amount in the WY1318 sample.

quirkzoo's picture
if you have the equipment at

if you have the equipment at work you could just grab a couple of bottles of commercial beer to test right? There are a ton of variables including filtration, packaging processes, force carbed vs. bottle conditioned, time to settle, pour technique... but it could be some cool data points to just grab some commonly available beer and see.

My T-Rex's name is Broccolisaurus

I'll try and do counts on a

I'll try and do counts on a few commerical beers as well

Started my brew day a couple of hours ago. Realised I had forgotten to add the flaked oats 40 mins into the mash :( (didnt have them in the sack of precrushed grain from my LHBS), so added them then and mashed for 90 minutes...

LHBS was out of pale ale malt(!) but sold me Crisp Extra Pale Maris Otter at the same price, also having to use WLP001 instead of WY1056 as I couldnt source 1056 in time for the brewday

adding to the noise

I brew this style often, being in New England and having won some competitions with my iteration of the NEIPA. I actually am a week in on an experiment of my own comparing The Yeast Bay VT Ale yeast and Wyeast 1450 Denny's Favorite 50 yeast on a NEIPA.  I'd be willing to triangle test them with my homebrew club, even though it may not be the same as your experiment, I have followed the same principles in keeping everything else the same between the two batches so the results may be of interest.  I'll send you some beer too!

Almost ready

I kegged yesterday and am almost ready for triangle experiments with a few different groups over the next few weeks. 1056 vs actual Conan from fresh Heady Topper I got back on Memorial Day.