Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewing Co. is the latest well known brewer to wade into the murky, crowded waters of the hazy IPA market. Great Lakes’ first widely distributed hazy is Hazecraft IPA, and the brewer feels good enough about its first big swing at the style to put it straight into the company’s stable of year-round offerings. In fact, Hazecraft is Great Lakes first year-round beer available exclusively in cans, so you could say it checks off two important firsts for the Midwestern brewer.
Hazecraft pours hazy burnt orange that is darker than most orange juice-esque hazy IPAs on the market. While Great Lakes suggests you’ll “blast into orbit through a hazy galaxy of otherworldly tropical fruit aromas,” I actually find it to be a little timid for the style. It smells like an IPA for sure, but more of the dank, non-hazy variety with any fruity notes leaning more towards berry than tropical.
Great Lakes may have missed an opportunity not including Galaxy hops in the space-themed Hazecraft, but I won’t complain because the hops here work together on a level rarely found in hazy IPAs. If the aroma was a bit lacking in fruit, the flavor is anything but. Stone fruit and berry sing over top of a sweet and earthy base. Hazecraft is a distinctly Midwestern IPA with its rich, full-bodied, sweetly resinous flavor—think a toned-down version of Bell’s Hopslam with less heat and more fruit. Considering Hopslam is one of my favorite limited releases each year, that’s high praise for 6.7% ABV year-round offering.
These characteristics played to my taste buds even before I adopted the Midwest as home, and while Hazecraft is more Midwest IPA meets hazy IPA than hazed-out juice bomb, that works just fine for me.