I’ve withheld writing about Hazy New England IPA in hopes the fad might die a quick death. Part of me thought local breweries wouldn’t latch on to the style and I could simply leapfrog the subject until the next big trend. After drinking some of the Mount Rushmore of NEIPA’s from Trillium, Other Half, Monkish, and Treehouse this weekend, I finally get it. Some of our local breweries have been hazed and are making some damn-fine examples of the style.
Although the original India Pale Ale was intended to withstand travel, the hazy NEIPA is more perishable than a head of lettuce. Visually, the beer resembles banana cream pie; light yellowish milkshakey beer with a dollop of meringue-like creamy white head. On the nose is a blend of Tropicana fruit juice and hops; which, depending on the varietals used, can lean from citrusy (OJ, tangerine, lemon) to tropical (mango, passionfruit, melon).
The flavor continues the juiciness, adding in a bright sparkle of fresh hop resin. What truly defines the style is the mouthfeel, which is fluffy, effortless, and can sometimes finish with some powdery grit. In a traditional West Coast IPA, hops are on display like a white beam of light shining through a prism. Aromatics and flavors rainbow-out like Neapolitan ice cream. In hazy NEIPA, hops are like a Bob Ross palate, where cobalt blue mixed with burnt umber can make for a happy little hop plant next to a stream. If Bob drank one he might say “brewers don’t make mistakes—Simcoe, Loral, Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops are a happy accident.” Ironically, Bob might be more impressed by the can’s label art than the actual liquid itself, as each release can be a bougie display of brewer inspiration.
One of my original criticisms with the hop-schmeared style is it seemed like attack of the clones. Like popular music on the radio, the same auto-tune vibe can plague each release from brewery to brewery. Sure, they taste great, but the beer can be consumable like a new T-Swizzle jam on I Heart Radio.
According to brewers, the style is difficult to make and stabilize into a consistent quality product, leaving some breweries attempts releasing less-than-stellar examples. Whether they be flawed beers with fermentation issues like diacetyl (buttery), or simply too turbid or clear, it seems like breweries need to collaborate or pilot batch it many times to get it right.
Several O.C. breweries have hit the billboard Top 10 with NEIPA style: Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic, Green Cheek, Offshoot, and Gunwhale Ales…each with day-one sellouts, other less-hypey breweries are making solid efforts, such as Unsung Brewing’s Triangulum, and Chapman Crafted’s latest release for Veterans Day, “Thank You For Your Service Hazy IPA. Not only is Chapman’s beer completely delicious and a great example of the style, every 4-pack and pint sold in the tasting room gives a $1 donation to Patriots and Paws. No lines, no online sale…just walk in and grab a four-pack!
Are you a #hazeboi? Are you yet to be hazed? What’s your opinion of the style? Let us know in the comments.
Check out Chapman Crafted’s Hazy IPA at their tasting room in Olde Towne Orange. 123 N. Cypress St., Orange // chapmancrafted.beer