I’ve been around the block a few times, so I’ve seen my fair share of trends come and go. I’ve even had the opportunity to get sucked into a few of them. In the ‘80s, I wore my Member’s Only jacket (actually, it was a knock off) religiously and begged my mother to let me grow a rat tail. Thankfully, she said no. I’ve been fortunate enough to live through both the baggie jeans trend and the skinny jeans trend. I probably looked equally bad in both. Some trends are destined to be short lived. MC Hammer pants. Leg warmers. Unicorn frappuccinos. I’m usually glad to see these diversions come and go, but there’s one trend I wholeheartedly support and hope never ends: hazy IPAs.
The unfiltered, super juicy IPAs first took hold in the Northeast but have spread like wildfire across the country. If your favorite brewery isn’t making one right now, there’s a good chance that they’re dead inside. The hazy IPA craze is so ubiquitous, even the Big Boys are getting into the game. Case in point, these two new beers from major craft breweries on opposite ends of the country. Both Stone Brewing and Sweetwater Brewing go all in with their own versions of the hazy IPA, but come up with two completely different takes on the trend. The good news? Both beers are really good.
If hazy IPAs are known for one thing (other than being hazy) it’s for being fruity. Citrus has always been a key component to American IPAs, but hazy IPAs have gone deeper down the citrus rabbit hole offering layers upon layers of grapefruit, orange, honeydew…It just so happens that Stone Brewing is also really into fruit these days, particularly as it plays out in tropical IPAs. Vengeful Spirit is a 7.3% ABV unfiltered IPA brewed with pineapple and mandarin orange. The result is fruit bomb that could fight scurvy, with a big, sweet fruit cup nose and a wallop of pineapple on the palate. The mouthfeel is soft and creamy with almost no bitterness. There’s no hop zing, no spice, no bite…just fruit juice. I need to check the FDA’s food pyramid, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get a full serving of fruit from one can of Vengeful Spirit. According to Stone, they’re not done with this whole fruit IPA craze, so you can expect more experiments like Vengeful Spirit in the near future.
Brewery: Stone Brewing
City: Escondido, California
Style: Unfiltered IPA
If there’s one thing that I feel is missing from the hazy IPA craze, it’s “bite.” That bitterness that once defined West Coast IPAs has disappeared with modern versions of the style. Take Stone’s version above. It’s all fruit juice and no zest, which has grown increasingly common in recent years. But Sweetwater kicks it old school with their take on the haze. Fresh Sticky Nugs is just as hazy, with plenty of fruit (mostly mellow passionfruit and grapefruit), but has a kick on the backend letting you know the Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe hops contribute more than just citrus notes. They’re also there to punch you in the mouth with plenty of zest and gingery spice. Sweetwater went big with this double IPA, which comes in at a hefty 8% ABV and can be found in tallboy cans. It’s part of their limited Dank Tank series, so grab it while you can.
Brewery: Sweetwater Brewing
City: Atlanta, Georgia
Style: Unfiltered IPA