In a market already saturated with hazy IPAs, I was surprised when I heard Firestone Walker was releasing Mind Haze, its first foray into the trendy style, in early January. But given the success the California brewery has seen with its IPAs and other beers, I was excited to try Mind Haze. Alas, what I discovered was something more middle-of-the road than the innovative new spin on hazy IPA I hoped it would be.
Appearance and Aroma
Mind Haze’s can design sports a spacey, psychedelic vibe with the brewery’s iconic lion vs. bear branding, squaring off face-to-face on either side of the beer’s name. Pouring into my glass, the beer is a bright, yet cloudy orange-gold color with a creamy, off-white head that persists well after pouring. Mind Haze’s color reminds me of tangerines, a fruit that also comes through strongly in the aroma. As I continue to sniff its tropical fruit bouquet I also pick up hints of orange, mango, and just a tinge of grassiness.
While Firestone Walker has created an easy-drinking, delicious hazy IPA, it missed by a long shot on developing one that would truly stand out from the crowd.”
The flavors are more subdued in Mind Haze than I was expecting. At first sip, I notice a sweet, bready malt character. This sweetness balances nicely with subtle notes of coconut, orange juice, tangerine, and bit of lemon. At the end, my tongue is greeted with a delicate, smooth bitterness complemented by soft underlying traces of spicy, herbal hops.
While Firestone Walker has created an easy-drinking, delicious hazy IPA, it missed by a long shot on developing one that would truly stand out from the crowd. Mind Haze is a decent beer, and one I can see being a gateway for drinkers new to the style. However, it’s going to take more to truly wow those of us on the far edge of the spectrum. So, I will give Firestone Walker an “A” for effort, but sadly, I’m going to have to give it a “B-” on execution of the style—with an added caveat that I know it’s now harder than ever to fashion something distinctive in the current sea of hazy IPAs.