I first wrote about the hazy-IPA trend a few years back in All About Beer Magazine, and at the time there was still the lingering question of: Are these murky IPAs really going to make it? I had been tasting all kinds of weirdness for my AAB column at the time, as breweries tried to work through every flavor of the month to pay off expansion bills: kettle sours, lifeless fruit IPAs, alcoholic seltzers… In that light, the ascent of hazy IPAs felt like a breath of fresh air.
Fast-forward to the present—which is pretty damn hazy. The beer-trading world has shifted heavily toward brewpub-only hazy IPAs (or New-England IPAs, or Northeastern IPAs—or whatever one’s inclined to label them, as they’re pretty much everywhere now), to the degree that even the once-maligned can has become a point of prestige. Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, and pretty much anybody paying attention released a canned hazy IPA in the time since. My Instagram feed has slowly simplified into a wall of super-hazed IPA and hasn’t turned back.
But, of course, the IPA pendulum keeps swinging… Out here in California (and apparently at least as far away as Poland already), we’re seeing the emergence of beers labeled “Brut IPAs” that use a brewing enzyme to ferment down to a bone-dry, Champagne-like feel. Though my first (internal) response was, “You mean like Pliny?”, these IPAs seem to be heading towards a space less overtly bitter than typical West Coast IPAs, while also less sweet than hazy ones. The most cynical side of my brain wonders how many more beer styles we can come up with involving the word IPA… But its practical side reassures me the answer is many, many more.