Thursday, February 23, 2017

It's All A Bit Hazy

I like hazy IPAs and I have been wanting to try a derivative style IPA I have heard about called New England IPA.  I did not know until today they were the same thing.  I get the sense from my twitter feed that hazy IPAs are a fad that beer purists should avoid to maintain self-respect.  This article from NPR's The Salt breaks down the "haze craze."  This passage from the article explains where these offshoot IPAs get their murk:

The haziness in these beers is caused by a variety of techniques that brewers say are primarily aimed at enhancing aromas and creating a smooth, creamy mouthfeel while also reducing the stinging bitterness associated with more conventional IPAs. Some brewers, for example, are using certain yeast strains that leave fruity esters in the beer, as well as suspended particulate matter. 
You have to love a beer with "suspended particulate matter."   The few New England IPAs I have tried are thick and fruity, like fresh squeezed juice.  I'll shed some beer dignity for more murk.   The one negative part of these cloudy beers is that they are so dense that about half a pint is enough. 

Some fads are easy to see as fads, like Pokeman Go, the Mannequin Challenge, or paddle boards.  It's harder to tell when a fad becomes ingrained and permanent.  The sudden popularity of hazy IPAs is a craze but that does not mean their appeal will fade before the suspended particulate matter settles at the bottom of a pint glass.  These beers are good, which will help their longevity and keep them in regular rotation.  I don't expect to see a whole tap room of murky beers any time soon, but having an unfiltered option or two seems reasonable.  But if I see a cloudy lager in the next month or so I'll know I am wrong and that hazy beers are doomed.

I find the term New England IPA funny.  Without reading much about them, I assumed New England IPAs were maltier, less hoppy IPAs - an anti-West Coast IPA - which is why I wanted to try one.  I had no idea they were bold, living, swirling, opaque beers that are the latest frontier in craft beer.  It is not my mental image of New England.  Here in San Diego, Pure Project Brewing makes hazy beers and Pizza Port had one of its hazy IPAs available recently.

I had a precursor to the haze wave about nine years at Stone's Escondido World Bistro and Gardens.  Stone had an unfiltered version of its then new Cali-Belgique IPA.  It was fruity, yeasty, and excellent.  The picture I took in August 2008 is above.