What Is a Hazy IPA?
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
The Hazy IPA is a beer specially crafted for a hazy appearance and a creamy mouthfeel with low bitterness. And if you know our beers here at Full Circle Brewing, you know we also believe that the Hazy IPA is a more enjoyable, easy-drinking beer than the less palatable, super-bitter West Coast IPA. If you enjoy our Juicy NE IPA, we expect you agree.
What is a Hazy IPA?
The Hazy IPA is a beer of many names including New England (NE) IPA, juicy IPA, and East Coast IPA. The key characteristics of the beer are its cloudy, unfiltered appearance, lack of bitterness, and smooth, delicate mouthfeel all of which are accomplished through a specific brewing process. A combination of yeast, hop varieties, dry-hopping, and high-protein grains create a juicy beer that is fruit-forward with flavors of citrus and tropical fruits.
How do you brew a Hazy IPA?
The haze or cloudiness of the beer is called turbidity in the brewing industry. Turbidity is controlled by three main ingredients in the beer: the hops, yeast, and the grains. The haze associated with Hazy IPA is typically attributed to the hops so we’ll give that the most attention, but let’s discuss the yeast and grains first.
Hazy beers use a specific yeast strain that promotes suspension in the beer and reduces flocculating which is the tendency to clump or form a larger mass. By using a low flocculating yeast, the yeast is more likely to stay in the beer versus clumping with other yeast particles after fermentation and dropping out to the bottom or floating to the top. When a beer is unfiltered, like a Hazy IPA, the yeast contributes to the cloudy appearance.
Additionally, including high-protein grains such as oats, spelt, or wheat also leads to cloudiness along with a softer, smoother body of the beer, another common characteristic of the Hazy. This protein in combination with hops is a key player in creating haziness, so let’s talk about the hops.
When brewing a Hazy IPA, little to no hops are added to the boil. Instead the hops are used in a process known as dry-hopping. After fermentation, the pelletized hops are steeped in the brew. The process doesn’t pull the bitterness from the hops like boiling does and instead leads to a brightness of flavor and bursts of aroma. When hops known for their citrus and tropical flavor profiles are used in this step, those flavors are enhanced in the beer.
When dry-hopped, the polyphenols from the hops remain in the beer and bind with the proteins from the grains creating the hazy appearance. It takes a lot of hops to create this which is why the term double dry-hopped is often used with Hazy IPAs.
The particles that form from the polyphenol and protein bond walk a line of being just large enough for us to see, but small enough that they stay in the solution. This is called colloidal haze and it's this haze that translates to the turbidity of the beer. Making a great Hazy IPA is about the flavor of the beer, but it's also about creating this type of haze that is stable so that the beer maintains its appearance over time.
Other additions to Hazy IPAs during brewing can also influence their cloudiness as well as their mouthfeel. For example, lactose complements a Hazy IPA well and these beers are sometimes called Milkshake IPAs. It’s why you’ll find lactose in our Illa series, such as the Illa Vanilla Milkshake IPA.
What does a Hazy IPA look like?
Hazy IPAs are often described as looking like orange juice and many do. There are many versions of Hazy beers, though, and they range in appearance from a light golden haze to having a deeper orange color and thick, cloudy appearance.
What does a Hazy IPA taste like?
There is a distinct sweetness in a Hazy IPA. It’s balance and intensity depends on the types of hops used and the amount used during the boil and during dry-hopping. Hazy IPAs are known for low bitterness and a full body that creates a creaminess unique to the style. Words like juicy, pillowy, and plush have all been used to describe Hazy IPAs.
While the beer is often fruity on its own due to the hops used, when brewers take it a step further to add fruit it creates an undeniable fresh flavor and sweetness. Our Mango Bomb and Pina Bomb are great examples of how mango and pineapple can transform the fruity intensity of a Hazy IPA.
West Coast IPA versus Hazy IPA
The West Coast IPA and the Hazy IPA differ in brewing process, appearance, and taste. Hops are added during the boil for a West Coast IPA which is what contributes to its bitterness and to its clarity. Bitterness is pulled from the hops when boiled and few polyphenols remain after the boil to bind with remaining proteins. That bitterness accompanies the citrus or piney flavors of the hops in a West Coast IPA and these beers are light amber or golden and clear versus the sweet and creamy taste and cloudy appearance of a Hazy IPA.
Hazy IPA Origins
It’s probably no surprise that a name like Northeast IPA means that the Hazy IPA originated in the Northeastern part of the U.S. Most in the beer industry attribute it to Vermont, to be exact. Vermont Pub & Brewery is credited with brewing IPAs with a hazier appearance in the mid-1990s.
That evolved into the opening of Alchemist Brewery in Stowe, Vermont in 2003, well known for Heady Topper, an American Double IPA that led to a love of hazier beers around the country. Once the brewery began packaging the beer the Hazy IPA took off and more breweries began creating their own versions of the style. In 2018, the Brewers Association finally added the juicy or hazy IPA as it’s own beer category in their Beer Style Guidelines. https://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/juicy-or-hazy-ales-new-england-ipa-style-guide
Today, Full Circle Brewing is a leader in the Hazy IPA movement and our fans prove that the style isn’t going anywhere. With 3,000% growth over the past four years and the capacity to make even more beer on the way, we’re proud to be part of producing a beer style that will be a mainstay on craft beer menus.