On Tap in Hawaii: Learn to see through the haze
Don’t let the cloudy countenance of hazy beers put you off. They offer great rewards in flavor.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
The words “hazy,” “juicy” and even “New England” have become common on labels for India pale ales. Ever wonder what they all mean — and if there is any difference at all in these new terms?
As the popularity of hazy IPAs has skyrocketed, almost every brewery is making them, leading to new ways to describe these beers. Hazies even have their own style category at the Great American Beer Festival. What once might have been considered a fad is here to stay, changing what breweries make on a regular basis.
For the most part, hazy, juicy and New England-style IPAs all fall into the same broad style of beer, with low to moderate bitterness, immense fruit-forward aroma, flavors typically tropical and ripe, a soft pillowy mouthfeel with no acidic sharpness — and most important, they are NOT clear.
These beers are meant to be murky and turbid. For some purists, the thought is blasphemy, but cloudy beers are nothing new. Germans have been making them for centuries. Hefeweizen or wheat beers are the original purposely hazy beers.
Typically the terms hazy and New England are used interchangeably, as the style is widely accepted as being created in New England. Many breweries call the style NE IPA, but as most breweries are not actually located in New England, many now choose the term hazy.
Recently, some breweries have begun to release beers labeled as juicy IPAs. Here’s where things can get confusing. Most hazies are made using a ton of hops, which create that vibrant fruit-forward aroma and flavor. The term “juicy” has long been used to describe these notes, so now some breweries have decided to just call their beers juicy IPAs.
Most of these beers that I’ve tasted tend to still be low in bitterness, but can be lighter and less hazy than those labeled NE or hazy.
Given the progression of the style, we’ve seen a lot of creativity and variance. Some of these beers are so incredibly hazy (bordering swampy murk) and hop-laden that they are almost like tropical fruit drinks; others are much more restrained and approachable.
What has made them so incredibly popular is the low bitterness, soft finish and fruity flavors. I’ve even seen people who swear they hate IPAs enjoy a hazy!
Ready to try a few? A steady stream has landed in Hawaii, and some of our local breweries are turning them out with great results.
These are available in cans:
>> Ghost Mountain Hazy IPA from Modern Times Beer, known for some of the best beers in this style, is a limited release, so get it now while it is fresh and those fruit aromas are super ripe.
>> Ninkasi Brewing Co. Prismatic Juicy IPA is a year-round release from the Eugene, Ore., brewery. A bit lighter and not as viscous, this beer is still filled with a ton of pineapple, mango and lychee aromas.
>> Kohola Brewery Lahaina Hazy won the gold medal for IPAs at the inaugural Hawaii Craft Beer Awards held last month. Make sure to pour this beer into a glass so you can take a good whiff of its scent, like a tropical fruit smoothie with hints of coconut. It’s smooth and silky in texture, with a clean and bright finish.
Locally, it pays to go straight to the source for freshly made hazies:
>> Inu Island Ales in Kaneohe has built its brand on great hazies and even has imperial versions that creep up over 8% alcohol by volume!
>> Beer Lab HI was one of the first in Hawaii to really focus on making New England-style IPAs, and always has a couple versions on draft. Don’t miss Beer Lab’s Omakase series, or the Ko‘olauloa, one of my favorites.
>> Lanikai Brewing Co. recently has gotten into the game and is now cranking out a few different hazy/New England-style IPAs per month. The brewery likes to add local flair, so don’t be surprised to see ingredients like yuzu or pineapple juice mixed in.
>> Waikiki Brewing Co. once swore to never make this style of beer, but now you can regularly find them on draft and they are delicious!
Tim Golden, a certified cicerone, shares his obsession with all things craft beer on the third week of each month. He is part owner of Village Bottle Shop in Kakaako.