Avery Brewing will introduce a new canned beer this fall called Hazyish IPA — and it may come as a surprise to people who follow the Boulder brewery. That’s because just over a year ago, Avery took the unusual step of publicly and specifically announcing that it would “probably never” make a hazy New England-style IPA.
The reason wasn’t so much philosophical — some breweries are vehemently opposed to way these beers look — as it was practical. New England-style IPAs are meant to be consumed quickly after being brewed — and they don’t always stay fresh for long in a can or a bottle. Even worse, that luscious haze can turn into chunks of unappetizing particulate in a package, especially if the temperature fluctuates.
“The nature of crazy-hazy IPAs makes them great for enjoying straight from the source, but very difficult to distribute and maintain quality standards over time. Since we do clarify our IPAs after dry-hopping, our shelf life gets extended to between 120 days and six months without compromising quality, allowing regions farther away to enjoy our brews, such as Hawaii and Alaska,” the brewery explained in a blog post.
"As much as we love some crazy-hazy IPAs, we will probably never package and distribute one, due to its exceptionally short shelf life,” the brewery added.
But “probably never” has turned into definitely this year. Why the change of heart?
Well, for starters, as 2018 heads toward 2019, it has become increasingly clear that any major brewery wanting to stay relevant is going to have to release at least one packaged beer with the word “hazy” or “juicy” in the name. New England-style IPAs have quickly become one of America’s favorite new beer styles, and the version that Avery makes just for its taproom is now one of the brewery’s best-selling draft beers.
But the brewers there have also had a chance to get their heads around the idea and to come up with a version of the style that they think will be more relevant in a couple of years.
“In the very beginning, we hadn’t spent any time thinking about how we would interpret the style ourselves as Avery,” explains Avery head brewer Fred Rizzo. “The more typical smaller-volume NEIPAs that you would get in a Crowler to go — we wouldn’t make that style. We decided we wanted to create a hazyish juicy New England-style IPA that we feel has the shelf stability and integrity to ship across state lines.
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“It took a lot of conversations, about what the style is, what it could be, and how it is maturing,” he adds. “I think it's going to lean toward a not-quite-so-hazy or opaque beer. They will still maintain the same characteristics — low bitterness, fruity, tropical. They will still use hops in a way that we haven’t seen in the past. But it will be more consistent. For us, we want someone to be able to buy it at a California liquor store or in Colorado, and it will look and taste the same every time.”
To do that, Avery will rely on its technology. “We're pretty spoiled with the equipment we have,” Rizzo says. “We have special pumps for extracting hop oils. We're using a centrifuge to clarify the beer. We can control and standardize the amount of haze that way and make it super-consistent throughout the run.”
While some smaller breweries — like Cerebral, Odd13 and Weldwerks, which specialize in the very haziest of IPAs — believe that that some of the signature aromas and flavors they are getting come from the particulates that remain in the beer, Avery believes it can duplicate those flavors and aromas, but in a beer that is much less murky. “As a team, we decided that we’d like to be able to almost see through it. That's where ‘hazyish’ in the name came from,” Rizzo adds. “We are not leaving the heavier particulates, like a yeast cell that will separate over time, in there. … Weaving protein and yeast into a beer has nothing to do with the aroma.”
Rizzo grew up in Vermont, where hazy IPAs became famous, but he’s never been a big proponent of the style. “I have a hard time drinking opaque beers. They can be fun, but they are not super-enjoyable to drink for me. We think the style is here to stay, though, and we think it will gravitate toward beers that are more drinkable and slightly more clear.”