Murky IPAs Gain Popularity in the Beer Market

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Increased interest in these cloudy ales is known as the ‘haze craze’ in the beer community

Hazy beers have become more popular from their fragrance and brighter hop aromas.

Nearly 13 years ago, The Alchemist brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, released its Heady Topper IPA, a murky type of beer that would later expand beyond the East Coast and trend across the country.

The brewer behind the beer, John Kimmich, didn’t filter or pasteurize the beer as most commercial brewers do, which left it opaque but with added flavor and aroma.

"We spent 10 years trying to convince people that haze is OK, and now some people are looking at our beers and saying they aren't hazy enough," Kimmich told NPR.

Moving further down the East Coast in Maryland, Heavy Seas Beer recently announced that they are releasing a limited-edition offering, the Alpha Effect, a hazy IPA, in March.

The beer trend has made its way to the West Coast too, with Northern California-based Moylan's Brewing Co.’s Derek Smith having experimented with the hazy brew last summer. Unfortunately, customers needed more convincing to try it out and it wasn’t as big of a hit as expected.

Recently, Smith brewed another batch of his “Haze Craze” beer after a peak in customer interest in thick and muddy beers. According to Smith, the beer sold nearly two or three times as fast as the brewery's traditional IPA.

Although hazy beer has gained popularity, Zach Page, director of brewing operations at Trillium Brewing Co., told NPR that customers are making assumptions that haziness of a beer can speak to more fragrance and livelier hops, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always better.

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There is speculation in the beer community that brewers may take shortcuts to creating hazy beer by adding flour or applesauce full of pectin, which adjust the physical appearance of the beer, but may not enhance the flavor or aroma.