Critics' verdict on haze craze

Hazy beers on Instagram

Some brewing sins have been committed in the rush to make hazy beers, according to Ray Daniels, who along with fellow US beer critic Randy Mosher has bemoaned Americans’ ongoing fascination with India Pale Ale.

Daniels, author of Designing Great Beers, said IPA comprises 60 per cent of the tap list at many bars in America.

“One of the things I’ve been saying for a couple of years now, is if we basically allow the tyranny of IPA to replace the tyranny of American lager then we really haven’t done this craft beer thing right,” he told Radio Brews News.

“The whole idea was to be about variety, range of flavours, and not just to move from one beer style that is the dominant beer style to another beer style that is the dominant beer style.”

Mosher said the whole reason he got into craft beer was the pursuit of a variety of different flavours.

“We had one kind of beer and now, you know, again we have one kind of beer that’s sort of dominating craft beer,” he told Radio Brews News.

“Of course now instead of just IPAs we have white IPAs, red IPAs, black IPAs, lager IPAs, session IPAs and now the New England or North East IPA.”

Haze craze
As for IPA’s most recent guise, Daniels said some “brewing sins” are being committed in the race to make hazy beers.

“There’s two parts to the New England IPA. One is the juicy hop thing, which is big hop flavour and aroma without bitterness, or with a very low bitterness component,” he said.

“That basic formulation appeals to me and I’m interested and intrigued by that. However, I haven’t really had an example that I think delivers on that to the degree that I would like to see it do.”

He said the emerging style’s second component of cloudiness is little more than a gimmick, if it is anything beyond a mild haze as a result of being unfiltered.

“You hear stories of people adding flour to their beers and things like that, and that’s just nothing but artifice pure and simple,” he said.

“You don’t have to filter the beer. It doesn’t have to be bright for it to be acceptable. But the ones that are murky with chunks and junk… that’s kinda ridiculous and not necessary and probably not good quality beer in a lot of cases.”

Not scalable
Mosher, author of Tasting Beer, said that for a variety of reasons, hazy IPAs are not suited to being scaled up for wider distribution.

“[They] are really almost impossible to produce and sell in sixpacks on the store shelf because the cost of the dry hopping… is so prohibitive,” he said.

“And also those beers, because they have so much hops, they degrade pretty rapidly on the shelf… you lose all the great characteristics that those beers at their best can really give you.

“The people who are doing well with it are mostly selling direct from their own breweries. They’ll have a batch ready, they open the doors, two hours later it’s all sold out, and then onto the next thing.”

Episode 121 of Radio Brews News is available to download here.

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