The cult of big, hazy IPAs is fervent. Deemed “the most sought-after, highly rated, incessantly talked about tap offering today” by CraftBeer’s Andy Sparhawk, the style diversifies and reinvigorates the booming IPA category.
Alternatively called New England IPAs (NEIPAs), Northeastern IPAs, unfiltered IPAs, hazy IPAs, or just “totally crushable,” these beers are immensely popular — despite lacking an official competition category at the Great American Beer Fest or widely agreed-upon moniker.
At Trillium Brewing, former head brewer Eric Bachli spread the gospel, establishing the Massachusetts label as an NEIPA leader. Last August, Brooklyn’s Sixpoint announced it had hired Bachli as chief product officer. Hazy Nation shared a collective gasp.
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Now, all eyes are on Bachli. Sixpoint opened in 2004, making it something of an elder statesmen in the East Coast craft community and building excitement for Bachli’s innovations. (No pressure.)
We caught up with Bachli at Sixpoint’s facility in Red Hook, Brooklyn to hear about his “eye-opening” college drinking days, and what canned companion he’d bring to a desert island. Spoiler: It’s not even a little bit hazy.
1. What’s your desert-island beer?
This is an instance of pure survival and I’m all about hydration and keeping cool in the desert heat: Pabst Blue Ribbon.
2. What’s the beer that made you fall in love with beer?
When I think of my introduction to craft beer back in my college days, four beers come to mind: Redhook ESB, Sierra Nevada Pale, Bass Pale Ale, Berkshire Brewing’s Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale. These beers played an integral role in awareness of the flavor possibilities of beer apart from the standard mass-produced lagers at the time … eye-opening experiences. Another pivotal moment came around 2012 when I had the Alchemist’s Heady Topper and also Cambridge Brewing Company’s Cerise Cassée — experiences that have shaped me to this day and really drew me into the world of haze and sours.
3. FMK three beer types: IPA, pilsner, sour.
See, a NEIPA is like a torrid, explosive love affair. From the moment you crack open the can you know this is going to be a crazy experience. Plus there’s no bitterness so you basically feel guilty about how much fun you’re having. Pilsners are always there for you, and you only learn to appreciate them the more you have them. So that’s perfect for marriage. I’m vegan so I typically abstain from killing… but let’s say I’m setting sours aside for now.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your last supper beer?
One of the greatest and most inspirational beer experiences I’ve had is from my most recent trip to Belgium — the Tripel De Garre. There’s something about that huge, white, fluffy head that is completely intoxicating. I’d take that beer to the grave any day. It conjures memories of pure joy and passion.
5. You can only drink one beer for the rest of your life. What is it?
That’s a tough one. The style that draws me in most right now is a modern, hazy take on the American Pale Ale. Beautiful hop aromatics, low ABV, low-mild bitterness, and a hit of juice… We’re working on that one basically every day at this point. Pulling in influences from some classics, like Blind Pig and Edward, and a personal favorite of mine, Nightshift Whirlpool. We’re trying to go next level with Hootie Hoo — when we perfect it that’ll be my choice.
6. What’s the best and worst beer in your fridge right now?
Allagash Avancé. I picked up a few bottles this past summer and I’m just waiting for the right moment. I’ve got a lot of beers that are past due for drinking and have always been curious as to the evolution of beer and aging and what freshness truly means. Of course the pale ales and IPAs devolve over time, but exploration merits its consumption.
7. If you could no longer drink beer, what would be your beverage of choice?