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Tag Archives: New England pale ale

Expanding the cans at East End

It wasn’t that long ago that cans were reserved for macro beer — and treated with scorn by those seeking a better beer experience.

That perception continues to change, nationally and locally. Just take a look around here: Grist House can’t keep cans of Fire on the Hill and Hazedelic Juice Grenade in the coolers. At Dancing Gnome, the weekly can releases almost always sell out on Day One.

And at East End, the monthly canning run to keep Big Hop at distributors and on the shelves has turned into an adventure: Which beer will we can next? It’s varied from standbys like Wheat Hop, Bigger Hop or Green Giant, the citra IPA that was canned again this week, to some newcomers that the folks at the brewery decide deserve some special treatment.

This week, that included two new beers: Partly Clahdy, East End’s dank and juicy New England-style IPA, and Seedless Watermelon Gose, a delicious mix of melon-y brightness and the tart salinity of the style. There’s a third new beer in the mix this week — Cherry Stomp, a Berliner Weisse made with sour cherries — but owner Scott Smith said the temptation to can that one as well was tempered by the fact that the guys from Iron Heart Canning, the Cleveland-based mobile canning company that made its monthly visit this week, had four beers to can already.

Mr. Smith said that as is the case at Grist House and Dancing Gnome, East End’s canning runs tend to sell briskly … and that’s good, especially for the beer. Most of the beers canned at the Larimer brewery are hop-forward, and they benefit from being consumed when they are as fresh as possible, and East End helps that cause by not canning too much: “These aren’t beers that we want to have sitting around for a long time — they’re not built for that,” Mr. Smith said. “I’d rather err on the side of not canning enough than canning too much and letting collect dust on the shelves.”

And besides, as Mr. Smith added: They can always brew more.

A hazy taste of the tropics, via Vermont

Those aren’t glasses of orange juice. Although the comparison is a bit more apt that you might think.

Those are glasses of Hazedelic Juice Grenade, a newish IPA from Grist House in Millvale. Hazedelic is part of a juicy new wave of IPAs and pales that are turning expectations about the styles on their heads, both here and across the country.

The wave started in New England, apparently with a beer called Heady Topper, brewed by The Alchemist in Waterbury, Vermont. The goal was to make a ridiculously hoppy beer, but not in the way that a brewery like Stone — which can pump up the bitterness in its hoppy beers to brutal levels — does. Instead, Heady presented a mouthful of fruity, tropical hop flavors with nearly no bitterness . A rich, soft mouthfeel. And an opaque, bright, sunny appearance. The brewery’s fans went nuts for the style, which spread around New England — New England IPA is the name that most use to designate a Heady-style beer — and beyond.

It’s far from being the most remarkable thing about these beers, but the haze has become the hallmark of the style. In fact, that’s the subject of some controversy. Consumers have been taught in some cases that haze is a sign that a beer could be infected, brewers who have spent years trying to brew beer that pours crystal clear are now being asked to suddenly reverse course. But those who have been making the style say removing the stuff that’s suspended in the beer would cut down the flavors they’re trying to find.

I don’t have any fear of stuff floating around in my glass — being a fan of hefeweizen cured me of that long ago — and what the proponents say about flavor is exactly right, as far as I’m concerned; the bright, juicy flavors practically burst with each sip. And the hops are front and center, but in a way unlike the IPAs we’re used to.

If you crave these beers like I do, you’re in luck. In Pittsburgh, they’re not hard to find. For the show, I tasted beers from Grist House, Dancing Gnome and Sole Artisan Ales, a gypsy brewery that operates in Eastern Pennsylvania. But there are plenty of other solid-to-spectacular examples of the style all over the region, so they’re not hard to track down.

The other bit of good news: It seems as though they’re not going away anytime soon. Hart Johnson, the cellarman at Piper’s Pub on East Carson Street, says the juicy pales from Dancing Gnome sell on par with Guinness in his British pub … and that’s a sign that the new school is here to stay.