Since the craft beer wave started in the US in the early 1980s, India Pale Ale aka IPA has become one of the most popular beer styles in the world. IPA lovers can nowadays choose from mainly two major varieties, the West Coast IPA on one side the New England IPA (NEIPA) on the other side. The latter one recently became very popular under the name Hazy IPA.
West Coast IPAs which were the first IPAs to come to the United States are traditionally known for their bold hop aroma, high bitterness and citrus/piney aroma and flavors. They are typically brewed with higher amounts of hops in the boil kettle, and with lesser hops added after fermentation.
With Hazy IPAs it is the other way round. They tend to have more hops added to the whirlpool or post-fermentation when boiling is already over and little or none in the kettle. This leads to less bitterness and -mid-palate flavor and more aroma. Hazy IPAs are also purposely hazy or cloudy, which gives these brews a smooth, sweater and creamy mouthfeel – a departure from the light/dry mouthfeel you often get with West Coast IPAs.
Hazy IPAs get their signature appearance from a combination of proteins and tannins contributed by a combination of higher-protein grains like wheat and oats used in the mash, and high rates of hop additions. The resulting haze complex actually binds to non-polar hop aroma compounds that would normally not remain in the beer, leading to the unique juicy aroma and lush mouthfeel of the style.
Father of the Hazy IPA is said to be John Kimmich who opened The Alchemist, a family run brewpub in Waterbury, Vermont, in 2003. He later added a brewery specializing in fresh, unfiltered IPAs. Other brewers in Vermont followed his example and yet this style of beer is spreading across the country. Big players like Boston Beer Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing entered the market with their respective products early in 2018. Today, nearly every major craft beer maker has a Hazy IPA in its lineup.
Most successful was Sierra Nevada Brewing from Chico, California, whose Hazy Little Thing is currently the fifth-largest craft beer in the United States with sales of USD 94 million in retail. Boston Beer had to reformulate and rebrand its Hazy IPA which has changed name from Samuel Adams New England IPA to Samuel Adams Wicked Hazy IPA and which is now heavily being promoted even during this year’s Super Bowl.
Dogfish Head Brewery, currently 13th largest craft brewing company in the US by the criteria of the Brewers Association, that merged two years ago with Boston Beer Company (inside.beer, 9.5.2019), was late and had, therefore, to be different. It now created Hazy-O! which claims to be the first “nationally distributed oat milk-centric IPA.” In addition to oat milk, the new product features malted oats, rolled oats and naked oats thus capitalizing on two emerging trends: hazy IPAs, and plant-based milks.
Most people are skeptical about milk-based IPAs. “We do believe you’ve got to try it to believe it,”says Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder Sam Calagione.
It has to be seen, if after West Coast IPA and Hazy IPA, a new category of milk-based IPAs will be the next fad.