Not Just a Phaze.
I’ve decided to give these hazy IPAs another go. I had been avoiding them, last summer it seemed like everyone and their sister was jumping on the cloudy bandwagon, with very mixed results. But the trend seems to have staying power, and a local version seems to be emerging.
What The Fluff? from Baerlic Brewing is downright delicious. It has the usual light shade and cloudy appearance, but looks less like orange juice than some extreme New Englanders. The scent is all pineapple and citrus. The flavor is deceptively sharp, a suggestion of acid where none exists. It’s juicy, without tasting like Tropicana. The malt is almost untastable. The wheat in the grist adds plenty of body, but no bready flavors. And the finish has a nice firm bitterness, like seeds hidden in the center of a tangerine.
Breakside’s Kids These Haze has been on shelves a while, and I suspect our bottle was a little long in the tooth. It’s hazy, but far from opaque. If I was served a beer this clean three years ago, I wouldn’t blink an eye. It looks like a normal pale ale. It tastes like a normal pale ale. There is a hint of citrus, a suggestion of pine, but the body is a little weak and the flavors muted. It’s not terrible. But it is not great.
Pillowfist is a big hitter from Old Town Brewing. Again, it doesn’t look totally cloudy. Tons of tangy lemony limey flavor. A handful of cranberries thrown in for a bitter tartness. The finish is rind-like, bitter. Again, not exactly wheat flavored, but nice full body. None of the yogurty gak I find in the really milkshake-y varieties.
Lastly, we have Mystery Cloud from Gigantic Brewing, their slightly less adventurous hazy IPA – the other one, PiñaCOOLada, features added coconut. It looks less overcast and more smoggy in the glass. The addition of Crystal hops give it a meyer lemon flavor, which adds interest to a field drowning in Mosaic’s funk. Soft bodied, but not doughy.
The Northwestern-style New England-ish IPA seems to be emerging. It’s hazy, but see through. It’s fruity, but not super juicy. The flavors lean more toward citrus than mango, and the body is full, but not thick. Unlike earlier incarnations – which tasted so fresh, I wasn’t sure they were fully fermented – the current class of hazy IPA tastes finished, even polished. And many are very tasty.