If your finger isn’t constantly on the craft-beer button, then we’ll quickly sum up what these hazy IPAs here. Although they all obviously have their own characteristics, and each is different, they tend to have a lower bitterness than other similarly strengthed IPAs, with a far more pronounced fruity character coming from the hops – comparisons to Um Bongo are frequent and not unwarranted – with this flavour being backed up by a soft, pillowy mouthfeel and generally lower carbonation. How is this achieved and why is it so popular? Carry on reading on below!
Naturally hazy because of the yeast in suspension, it’s not surprising in the slightest that people have looked to emulate the Heady Topper beer. With a soft, pillowy body and fruity flavour without too much bitterness, it’s a far cry from the Great Bittering Arms Race of 2010-2015™. However, their popularity could in some way be born out of this all out bitternes war. When people started adding grapefruit, oranges, mangos etc. to enhance the natural hop flavour, it became clear what everyone was after, and that was juiciness! What’s incredibly cool about these beers, however, is that to create this juiciness they’ve taken a step back and are recreating all these crazy tropical flavours with only the help of the four traditional brewing ingredients.
Although the most sought after beers of this style are American, we’ll unfortunately probably not be seeing those ones over here for a while. Breweries like Trillium, Tree House, Hill Farmstead and others sell their beers almost exclusively out of their breweries, with queues forming several hours before they open every week. However, luckily we’ve got plenty available from breweries a lot closer to home – and although you’ll have to be quick to nab them, you won’t have to queue up for hours!
When people first wanted to recreate beers like Heady Topper they began looking at the yeast The Alchemist were brewing with, a strain the brewery kept as a closely guarded secret. However, those aiming to recreate these hazy IPAs were right to look at the yeast. After fermentation yeast “flocculates” which means it clumps together and drops out of suspension to either the top or the bottom of the fermenting vessel. However, the yeasts used to brew these styles of beer are very poor at flocculating and will stay suspended unless filtered out. By keeping the yeast in suspension, not allowing it to flocculate and not filtering it out, the brewer feels it keeps more flavour in the beer. As a result, more yeast in suspension means more stuff in the beer, and therefore more haze.So, we know there are some contributions from the malt, and some from the yeast, but why are we still seeing far more turbidity from these beers than from, say, a German Hefeweizen which is, by definition, a yeasty wheat beer (“hefe” = yeast, “weizen” = wheat). This is where the hops get involved and we get science! Most of the large proteins are removed from the beer when boiling the wort or chilling it, but smaller ones stay in suspension. Whilst in suspension these proteins won’t contribute any haze, and normally they’ll happily stay in suspension. However, when adding hops to a beer you introduce polyphenols which will bind to these smaller proteins and pull them out of suspension to create haze. Normally this is fine, because again, hops are traditionally added during the boiling phase and most of these polyphenols are removed. However, to get the huge, juicy aromas and flavours out of a beer without imparting too much bitterness, brewers will add the hops after boiling. This results in more polyphenols than, for instance, in a German Hefeweizen, and in turn creates more haze. Who said science couldn’t be fun?
We hope we’ve inspired you to give haze a go and look forward to many hazy days ahead. Read on for details of a whole host of new arrivals, many of them on the hazy side.