Jonathan Ingram's picture

This full story is available to premium subscribers.

Login / Subscribe
Subscription options for $2, $15 and $25.


Will Hazy IPAs Go the Way of Pumpkin Beers?

I remember when I used to have cravings for a pumpkin beer. The desire fell somewhere between a circadian rhythm – fall colors have arrived – and patriotism. We’re craft beer-loving, farm-to-table Americans, by God, and pumpkins are indigenous here.

Now, there’s a new thing for me. It’s year-round. And, apparently, I’m not alone.

I’m always ready for a juicy, hazy IPA that’s properly made and not fruited. In other words, hold the juice additive and bring out those citrus flavors through biotransformation, which means using an f-ton of dry hops, which are transformed by non-flocculating yeast. Then, give me more of that hop goodness by not filtering the beer and serving lots of yeast, which itself has been bio-transformed and therefore carries some of that hop goodness.

Everybody, of course, has their opinions about juicy, hazy IPAs. Those opinions range from disdain to irrational exuberance. There is some valid criticism: “They all taste the same – there are no nooks and crannies of aromas and flavors.” But the exuberance side is winning, helping to produce more entries for this newly created category at the Great American Beer Festival this year than the American IPA, the former festival leader.

My desire for pumpkin beers used to fall somewhere between a circadian rhythm – fall colors have arrived – and patriotism. We’re craft beer-loving, farm-to-table Americans, by God, and pumpkins are indigenous here.

Whichever way you like your juicy, hazy “New England-style” or “Northeast-style” IPA, it’s pretty easy to find one. Any brewer that previously felt it necessary to have an IPA in its line-up now finds it mandatory to have one with the word “juicy” or “hazy” in the name on the chalkboard or the package label. Even those disdaining the use of these two buzz words often draw attention to the use of the citrus hops most associated with the style.

There is an eternal craft beer question. Will this style go the way of pumpkin beers – another special approach that has gradually fallen into the category of beers championed by a few good brewing practitioners?

I don’t think so. The reason is not complicated. The juicy, hazy IPA style enables brewers to put in more aroma, more flavor and, above all, more hops. While not addictive, this craft brewing movement toward more aromatic hops and less emphasis on bitterness is not likely to slow down. According to the quantum leap in hopping rates occasioned by this style, we’ve all turned into hop heads.

Me? I don’t mind. But as usual, enquiring minds want to know.

There is a school of thought that hops actually alter brain function. While possibly true on some physiological level not yet discovered, I tend to believe the stimulation is more analogous to eating spicy food. There’s some sort of physical engagement with the hops going on, but it’s more of a recognition factor rather than, say, the brain producing endorphins in response to lots of hops suddenly suffusing through the blood stream.

Hops are not psychoactive in the manner of the related cannabis plant – a longstanding acknowledgement. Nobody suddenly hears a Jimi Hendrix riff better as a result of drinking a juicy IPA – or thinks they hear it differently. But here’s some interesting info I came across lately that may sound familiar to those who enjoy cannabis in one of its many forms.

Finish reading this article by becoming a premium subscriber.
Visit the store now. Options start for only $2.00!