Hazy IPA—aka New-England-style IPA or (less frequently, as of late) Vermont-style IPA—has existed for more than a decade, but it’s really grabbed the beer world’s attention over the past few years. These interpretations of IPA run contrary to crystal-clear, intensely bitter West Coast IPAs, instead offering a well-hazed appearance and preferential emphasis on hop flavors and aromatics. The Brewers Association added three brand-new style categories to its 2018 Beer Style Guidelines this spring to reflect the growing diversity within the spectrum of hazy, hoppy offerings—adding categories for “Juicy or Hazy” pale ale, IPA, and double IPA.
These beers can acquire haziness through various different means, including using a brewing yeast that stays in suspension, the combo of a high-protein malt bill plus later hop additions, even (occasionally) using actual flour. Done right, hazy IPAs are both especially smooth and expressive in their hop character. I requested fresh samples from key producers, along with snagging Epic and Modern Times cans locally. Below, meet five top haze makers.
Relax Hazy IPA
Offshoot Beer Co.; Placentia, Calif.
This offshoot project from The Bruery focuses on hazy and hoppy beer, in the popular four-pack format of 16-ounce cans. Relax is the lone year-round release from Offshoot and offers pungent citrus plus zesty pine and tropical notes, in a streamlined package that shows just a hint of its near-7% ABV. Limited releases include a recent collaboration with Garage Project called Smell That Smell, highlighting a generous, tropical nose of papaya and passion fruit—even a seamless, piña-colada-like touch of coconut. (It featured the relatively new Cashmere hop variety.) Taste That Taste, its hazy-double-IPA counterpart, is quieter on the aroma and instead focused on the intense pine, pungent lime, and no lack of bitter lemon in its flavor.
Praise the Haze
Epic Brewing Co.; Denver, Colo.
Epic announced a new series of New England-style IPAs this past fall, available in 12-ounce cans and draft throughout its distribution network. Praise the Haze (aka Citralush) affords an appealing combo of pungent citrus and floral notes in the aroma, landing quite bright and lemony. There’s more assertive grapefruit bitterness than most of these examples, landing in a hoppy space between smoothie-like haze and the more traditional, bitter-focused IPAs of yore. The floral impact is most noted in the nose, while the flavor highlights candied lemon.
Do You Even Drink Beer?
Track 7 Brewing Co.; Sacramento, Calif.
Track 7 has released a number of well-executed hazy hoppy beers, including Azekuanot and L&H In VT. This hazy “Northeast-style IPA” is a collaboration with the Pink Boots Society for International Women’s Day and includes Citra, Loral, Palisade, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops. It pours like hazy orange juice, and it’s packed with grapefruit, sweet lemon, and pine facets. Its Mo’Suka, a Northeast-inspired double IPA, pours more like endearing grapefruit juice and offers a pungent assortment of Cascade, Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic. Dense, lime-focused hop bitterness is present and quickly expands into further depths of pith and firm citrus.
Modern Times Beer; San Diego, Calif.
This especially crisp hazy IPA is right around 7% ABV, like many of the others here, and while its aroma isn’t quite as assertive as, say, Offshoot’s Smell That Smell, there’s a robust mixture of pithy citrus, bitter lemons, and what I want to call hyacinth (something on the floral side). It’s arguably the most clearly expressed of these hazy IPAs, with facets focused on a careful core of generous pomelo, pith, and Meyer lemon—plus an atypical show of toast from the malts.
Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA
New Belgium Brewing; Fort Collins, Colo., and Asheville, N.C.
While the Voodoo Ranger series has tended to be pretty timid, hop-wise, relative to some of New Belgium’s other key IPAs, this hazy entrant in the series hits the core notes of the style comparatively well. The aromatics are packed with Juicy Fruit gum, ripe melons, and lemon, emphasizing sweeter hop characteristics while backing off on the bitter citruses of the more traditional American-IPA archetypes. Subtle carbonation and a softer bitterness keep things smooth, as hazy IPAs tend to, while focusing on hop flavors of tree fruit and candied lime.