Too Many Hops? Impossible!
One theory behind the cloudy IPA is that the wheat and oats included in the grist add more proteins to the beer. The proteins give hop oils something to grab onto keeping them in suspension, resulting in a very hoppy tasting beer. If you don’t have the hazy proteins, the hop oils will fall out of the beer and you won’t get the full effect of intensive dry hopping.
The problem with this theory – besides the lack of scientific evidence – is that i don’t taste it. In the last year we’ve tasted dozens of hazy IPAs, and while there are some really great ones out there, for the most part, hazy IPAs taste less hoppy than their clear cousins. Often much less. When a hazy IPA works, it works beautifully. When it doesn’t it’s worse than a clear IPA that’s been sitting on the shelf for months.
There seems to be much less planning going into new hazy IPAs. No one knows exactly how the beer will be when it leaves the brewery. No one is tasting it at one week, two weeks, and three weeks after finishing. Most of these beers seem to be one time things. They’re brewed, canned, and thrown out the door. It could just be poor quality control.
But maybe it has something to do with the incredible number of hops in many of these beers. There’s just too many different oils and esters mixing it up in there, and the result is a muddy flavor that just doesn’t taste of much in the end. Maybe it’s just a case of less is more.
In For the Love of Hops, Stan Hieronymus writes about Marble IPA from Albuquerque. The head brewer was doing some regular spot checking, tasting bottles of IPA that had been in cold storage. The beer that was two weeks old actually tasted better than the fresh IPA straight from the line. It was fruitier and had a more vivid hop flavor. So the brewer goes back and tries tinkering with the recipe. He tries adding more late addition hops. He tries rearranging the dry hopping schedule. Nothing. Then he tries something paradoxical; he cuts back on the hops. He finally gets that flavor he was looking for.
Maybe, that’s why sometimes a pilsner tastes hoppier than the juicy IPA next to it.