By Allen Anderson, Station 26 Brewer
We recently jumped into the hazy IPA game, a style that is making the rounds at breweries across the country but is no less a central point of contentious debate among beer folks. While the argument rages on (at times, inside our own brewery) about the virtues of a hazy IPA, the debate among beer enthusiasts has done nothing to diminish the popularity or demand for the brew.
All of the articles and reviews out there about hazy beers are there for you to check out - no need to link a “10 Reasons Why People Hate on Hazy IPA” article to prove that it’s been an interesting road getting here. The point is that, some people aren’t into them for various reasons, but some are, and I think there are more positive arguments to be made for a hazy IPA than contemptuous ones. Enough good reasons to lead us to trying a few ourselves.
I had wanted to give the hazy style a shot for a while, and was granted that opportunity with our Hop Sequences Nos. 6 and 7, recipes I put together as new additions to our Hop Sequence series. These were leaps of faith from Justin and Wayne, as both had been relatively anti-haze until they allowed me to give it a try.
“I don’t want you to only brew Juicy Banger IPA every single day,” Justin told me. He wanted me to take over the experimental IPA series to see what we could come up with.
The Hop Sequence Nos. 6 (pictured below) and 7 were our first attempts at making New England-style IPAs, and we learned a good bit through the process. In the second version (No. 7), we added more calcium chloride, a big component of hazy beers that gives it the smoother mouthfeel and accentuates the sweetness in the malt. We also dialed back the kettle hops for a lower bitterness and explosive juiciness that haze enthusiasts seem to enjoy.
This weekend we are releasing our second milkshake IPA (Peach), a more specific type of hazy IPA that uses lactose and vanilla to give an even silkier mouthfeel and fruity taste on top of minimal bitterness. Our first, Strawberry Milkshake IPA, was a trial run at the style. We modified the recipe for the upcoming Peach version, increasing the lactose, oats, and wheat. We also upped the fruit and vanilla, switched out the El Dorado hop for Amarillo, and I think Peach Milkshake is going to be even better than the first.
I find the hazy debate to be interesting. I think that a lot of the supposed “opposition” to hazy beers comes from a fundamental misunderstanding or misapplication of the chemistry at work. Some brewers were allowing the yeast to stay in suspension for the sake of the beer turning out cloudy. In a good hazy beer, the chemistry at play is the reaction between specific yeast strains, hop oils, and proteins, as well as a complete lack of finings and filtering, that make the haze stick. Supposedly that look is one that a lot of beer folks believe is not a “true” beer.
Personally, I think the hazy beers are easy-drinking and fun to make. I say, if it’s genuinely made and tastes delicious, there shouldn't be anything to worry about.
It’s interesting to see what we can do as brewers. I think there is a product that people want, and we’re trying to make it for them. It’s a fun challenge. A smooth and tasty beer, with fruit additions added in to give it a truer “milkshake” identity, has been our goal in these experiments. We hope you enjoy the Peach Milkshake IPA and future variants to come.