Ethereal Brewing Head Brewer Explains Their Process For NEIPA

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Kentucky Growler met up with a couple Kentucky industry folks to talk about the nuances of the hazy beer trend.

The Kentucky Beer Nerds podcast crew sat down with Brandon Floan of Ethereal Brewing  and Matt Linske of Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services to discuss one of the current trending conversations within the beer industry and community which is hazy, cloudy, New England IPAs.

The main NEIPA Ethereal brews is called Fadtastic, so they obviously observe the idea that the style has some bit of trendiness behind it. When it comes to brewing the style, Floan who is head brewer said no one should be brewing a beer with the intention of making it as hazy as possible.  According to Floan, the haze should be a byproduct of the brewing process with hop character and mouthfeel in mind. He explained his philosophy on the NEIPA brewing process starting with the grain bill.

“I would say in general, most NEIPA grist bills are fairly adjunct heavy and by adjunct I mean a non-malted sugar source like a flaked wheat, flaked oats, flaked rye, anything like that, a high protein grist. At Ethereal, we shoot for about thirty percent overall. You get a lot of that in solution, so that in itself is going to add some of the cloudiness. It’s going to add a lot of mouth feel. You got a lot of beta glucans,” said Floan.

After the wort is collected from the mash, then comes the boiling and hopping. Conventions often state bitterness is derived from the hops added to the boil but Floan explained why he doesn’t add hops until after the boil for a NEIPA. 

“Most people that produce North Eastern IPAs, they don’t do much kettle or hot side (hop) additions. For us, we only add hops in the whirlpool. We get tons of bitterness. I get more bitterness than I want. I’d love to add more hops in the whirlpool but I get too much bitterness from it,” said Floan.

Dry hopping is also important according to Floan who emphasized finding the window in which the first dry hop charge should be added. He said the first dry hop which happens during the third day of active fermentation contributes mostly to mouthfeel.

Linske mentioned another reason some breweries will dry hop during active fermentation.

“If you’re going to dry hop, there’s a really good reason to dry hop during active fermentation and that’s because hops have enzymes that can break down some of the sugars that  didn’t get broken down earlier,” said Linske. “If you add them during fermentation, the hops will contribute some of these enzymes and start to break down these sugars down and that will help you get a more stable finished product,” he continued.

At the end of the podcast, Floan said he feels he makes a good example of the style but admitted there is always room for improvement and he has much more knowledge to collect as a brewer.

This fifty five minute interview is the first edition of the Kentucky Beer Nerds podcast. Floan and Linske also discussed other parts of the NEIPA process like yeast selection and some philosophy on brewing in general. The podcast is available for download at KentuckyGrowler.com.


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