Let’s be clear: hazy IPAs are hardly a new phenomenon. Murky, unfiltered New England-style IPAs were quietly making the rounds in East Coast breweries for a decade before the haze craze exploded. Then around 2017, these cloudy beers started cropping up just about everywhere. Now, not a week passes without a haze bro extolling the virtues of the latest release’s creamy mouthfeel and intense aroma to us. If 2018 is any indication to go by, the trend is only gathering momentum and we can expect plenty more in the year to come.
As with anything this hypebeast, there are pros and cons to all of this. A few breweries have been too quick to jump on the haze train, resulting in lackluster efforts where the flavors are just as muddled as the beer’s appearance. Still, this past year also saw the arrival of a few truly stellar hazy IPAs that would be popular even if they weren’t in vogue.
Our team approached the latest crop of hazy IPAs with a healthy level of skepticism, while still acknowledging greatness when it appeared. While a few releases were derided as “just another hazy IPA,” the best stood out with their well-balanced flavor profiles redolent of carefully selected hops. These are the kinds of beers we’d be happy to keep drinking even when the hype inevitably dies down.
“Citra hops are clearly present throughout” in Brewdog’s “nod to the hype” that still leaves “their mark on the ubiquitous style” that pours “cloudy, unfiltered and golden-orange in color,” writes Mike Wilp.
Hailing from Drekker Brewing Company in Fargo, North Dakota, “Ectogasm is a spirit-shaker. With its fiendish combination of softness, harshness and juice, it’s one of the finest New England IPAs you’re liable to find west of the Mississippi,” according to Jerard Fagerberg. “Brewed on a pillow of oats with Citra and Mosaic hops, it’s a beast masquerading as a teddy bear, reminding you never to sleep on North Dakota.”
“It claims to be hazy, fruit and dank on the label, almost challenging hophunters to ignore it,” Jerard Fagerberg says about Foggy Geezer, a New England IPA that challenges the boundaries of the style. “The truth of the beer is somewhere at the apex of those buzzwords—it pours clearer than a NEIPA and finishes with a brilliant boom of West Coast dry-hopped bitterness.”
“The name may seem little more than a pun, but Freddie Murkury is replete with the lovely hop haze that’s come to typify the New England IPA,” Jerard Fagerberg says about the annual offering from Mikkeller. “Of course, this isn’t a one-note New England-style double IPA, it’s named for a guy with a four-octave range.”
“Flavor is where this beer truly shines,” says Tucker Anders, who proclaims it “the best widely distributed New England-style hazy IPA I’ve tasted” and says it “establishes a new ceiling” for the genre. It has “fresh-squeezed citrus to complement a host of tropical fruit aromas” and “finishes with a lingering bitterness that balances out the sweetness.”