As the New England-style IPA gains more popularity and market share a certain segment of craft beer geeks spend more and more time and energy trying to tear down the substyle. One common criticism is that the beers are all essentially the same, similar malt bills, yeast strains, and a subset of popular hop varieties. While this argument is fundamentally flawed, notice that the same people aren’t criticizing pilsner because most versions are brewed with pilsner malt, noble hops, and clean lager yeast, it is nice when some breweries step outside the box and try to do something a little different with their NEIPAs. A good example of this is Koi Bird, a new IPA from Stony Creek Brewing in Branford, CT. While the Citra hops and grapefruit juice used in Koi Bird are very NEIPA, the grain bill featuring red and jasmine rice and the fermentation with sake yeast are pretty unique. Stony Creek Koi Bird is available now on draft and in 16 oz cans, thank you to the people at Stony Creek for sending me a sample to try.
Stony Creek Koi Bird pours hazy light yellow with a small white head. The aroma features a solid burst of fruity hops. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of melon, orange, and pineapple along with a little bitter bite. The grapefruit flavor also comes through, it melds nicely with the flavors from the hops. The pale and rice malts round out the flavor, hints of rice crackers and bread crust. Koi Bird is light bodied and drinks easy, not overkill at 6.0% ABV. The finish is very crisp and clean, almost lager-like, with some lingering hop flavor. This is an interesting beer, the yeast and malt bill provide an interesting twist on the prototypical NEIPA profile. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
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