Beer of the Week: Open Mind

Black Plague Brewing's headman takes a detour, charting a different course with his latest hazy IPA

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Hazy IPA is more a spectrum than a style. The OG versions hatched on the East Coast are thick and far more coating on the tongue, fitting the specific designation of “New England-style IPA” (NEIPA). That may have been the target for aspiring murk masters back in the day, but over time, brewers have found ways to impart just as much juiciness on the palate without producing the hoppy-beer equivalent of an oatmeal stout. Nowadays, hazies range in appearance from completely opaque to merely unfiltered. And instead of coming off more like fruit juice, some actually taste like a traditional IPA, offering a balancing bitterness that keeps the taste experience from veering out of the beer aisle and into the produce department. One local brewer who prefers his hazies to resemble West Coast IPAs in their texture and IBU count is Aeryk Heeg, the head fermentationist at Black Plague Brewing. But for his latest overcast hop-bomb he decided to go the road more traveled and craft a super-fruit-forward hazy that’s low on bitterness and bursting with aroma. Enter this week’s featured beer, Open Mind. A Mosaic-heavy, tropical-leaning hop bill produces intense aromas of overripe mango and papaya with a hint of charred popcorn hull from the addition of Nelson Sauvin. On the taste buds, fresh pineapple overtones give way to ripe yellow peach and an effervescent fruitiness reminiscent of wedding punch. It’s a delightful beer that rewards Heeg for putting his personal preferences second. Nth-level NEIPA devotees will point out the fact you can vaguely see through this beer…but they’re just being close-minded.

As we’re all aware, the hazy IPA continues to hold its dominance in the beer industry, and I was eager to cater to the desires of our customers with our latest creation, Open Mind. While Black Plague has always been known for its hazies, it hasn’t always strictly adhered to the style. My goal has been to craft hazy IPAs that lean closer to the traditional West Coast IPA profile, characterized by a lower finishing gravity, lighter body and gentle bitterness. With Open Mind, I wanted to embrace a fresh perspective and develop a true-to-style hazy IPA boasting an explosion of hop aroma and a luxuriously soft, full body with minimal perceptible bitterness. I’m pleased to say that I believe we’ve achieved just that with this brew. Open Mind is a 6.8% (alcohol-by-volume) hazy IPA crafted with a blend of Mosaic, Mosaic Cryo, HBC586 and Nelson hops, resulting in a beer bursting with juicy, tropical flavors.”

Aeryk Heeg, Head Brewer, Black Plague Brewing
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