How Hazy IPAs Came to Dominate Craft Beer | Wine Enthusiast
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How Hazy IPAs Came to Dominate Craft Beer

Even though brewers continue to question what the next big thing in the world of craft beer will be, consumers will forever return to certain classic styles: lagers and stouts, sure, but definitely India pale ales (IPAs).

For years, American IPAs have reigned supreme as the flagship style of the domestic craft-beer scene. The category dominates craft offerings on retail shelves and always sees the highest number of submissions in any judgment or competition. It seems we just can’t get enough of the stuff.

Many brewers have taken playful approaches to the category as a whole. Sure, American­ beers—especially IPAs—are still quite hoppy, but we’re increasingly searching for more refined, balanced options now that we’ve gotten over the initial bitter-hop shock and awe.

While interest in juicy or hazy IPAs has been on the rise over the past few years, the style has now hit mainstream.

As a result of these endeavors, there have been some shifts in base style and brewing techniques that have yielded even more additions to the wonderful array of IPAs available today.

This year, we looked at the current stylistic darling of the IPA world: New England-style IPAs (NEIPAs), also known as juicy or hazy IPAs.

Essentially, these IPAs are unfiltered and hopped with fruit-forward, or “juicy,” hop varieties. They are not shy on personality and exhibit intense citrus and tropical fruit tones, with plush mouthfeels and cloudy appearances.

While interest in juicy or hazy IPAs has been on the rise over the past few years, the style has now hit mainstream. Thanks to stablization improvements, the reach and distribution of these brews have grown well beyond originally niche tasting-room-only selections.

Three categories—juicy or hazy pale ale, IPA, and double or imperial IPA—are now recognized by the Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines, so fans can expect to see more releases to come. Love it or hate it, the haze craze is here to stay.

NEIPAs to look for

Breakside What Rough Beast New England-Style India Pale Ale (Juicy/Hazy IPA; Breakside Brewery, OR); $8/22 oz, 91 points. While this might not be the haziest of the hazies, it shows excellent overall balance and great drinkability. A lightly hazy deep-gold color, it opens with assertive aromas of tropical fruit, honeydew, citrus peels and a touch of fresh pine needle, with supporting grainy notes of biscuit dough and caramel malt. The medium-bodied, soft mouthfeel offers more malt weight than straightforward juiciness, with flavors of melon rind, orange and grapefruit pith that carry on through to the close. abv: 6.8%

Deschutes Fresh Haze India Pale Ale (Juicy/Hazy IPA; Deschutes Brewery, OR); $11/12 oz 6 pack, 91 points. This canned brew pours a hazy sunset-orange color in the glass, with a frothy white head that shows good retention. The nose is powerful in expected waves of juicy mandarin orange and pineapple, with touches of fresh, grassy hops and lightly honeyed malts. The palate is smooth and satisfying in ripe citrus flavors that transition to a lightly bitter citrus–peel note that lends some textural lift through the finish, while the bready malt core provides a supporting backbone to all of the juicy, hopy goodness throughout. abv: 6.5%

Coronado Rise East Hazy IPA (Juicy/Hazy IPA; Coronado Brewing Co., CA); $14/16 oz 4 pack, 90 points. This “East Coast-Style IPA” pours a hazy golden-orange color, with an off-white head that leaves nice lacing behind with each sip. The nose is loaded with scents of juicy peach, sweet orange and tropical fruit that all carry through to the smooth, soft palate. There’s a subtle hop and orange-rind flavor that lends a subtle bitterness to the close, but never overwhelms the beer’s juicy, fruit-forward soul. Part of a four-pack that includes two Rise East and two Set West, a “West Coast-Style IPA.” abv: 7%

Reuben’s Brews Hazealicious IPA Hazy India Pale Ale (Juicy/Hazy IPA; Reuben’s Brews, WA); $11/12 oz 6 pack, 89 points. This canned pour, brewed with Citra, Strata, Comet, Mosaic and Azacca hops, leads with medium-intense tropical fruit notes of pineapple, passion fruit and mango alongside a strong dose of tangerine juice. Those fruity notes carry through to the medium-weight palate, sitting atop a cracker-malt core and complemented by bright carbonation and a dry finish of citrus pith and dried grass flavors. abv: 6%