What is the IBU of a Neipa?

Answered by Cody Janus

New England IPAs, or NEIPAs, are known for their unique flavor profile, which is characterized by a balance between hop bitterness and juicy, tropical fruit flavors. Unlike traditional IPAs, NEIPAs are not overly bitter, and their bitterness is typically below 65–70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

Despite their lower IBU levels, NEIPAs often have high levels of hops used in their production. Brewers typically use a hops rate of 3–5 pounds per barrel (1.4–2.3 kilograms per barrel) or even higher. This generous amount of hops contributes to the intense aroma and flavor of these beers.

One interesting aspect of NEIPAs is that a significant portion of the hops is still added on the hot side during the brewing process. This means that hops are added during the boiling stage of the beer, which is where bitterness is typically extracted. However, even with this hot side hopping, NEIPAs maintain a relatively low bitterness compared to their hop rates.

The reason for the lower perceived bitterness in NEIPAs despite the high hop usage lies in the brewing techniques employed. One key factor is the timing of hop additions. Brewers often add a large portion of their hops late in the brewing process, during or after the boil. This technique, known as whirlpool hopping, helps to extract less bitterness from the hops and emphasize hop flavors and aromas instead.

Another technique commonly used in NEIPA brewing is dry hopping. Dry hopping involves adding hops directly to the fermenting beer or during the cold conditioning phase. This method maximizes hop aroma and flavor while minimizing bitterness extraction.

The overall goal of NEIPAs is to create a beer with a hazy appearance, a soft mouthfeel, and a burst of hoppy flavors without overwhelming bitterness. The emphasis is on the fruity, tropical, and juicy hop characteristics rather than aggressive bitterness.

The IBU of a NEIPA is typically below 65–70, despite the use of a high amount of hops, often in the range of 3–5 pounds per barrel or higher. The brewing techniques employed, such as late hop additions, whirlpool hopping, and dry hopping, help to achieve a beer with a balanced hop profile that emphasizes flavor and aroma over bitterness.