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Beyond the Bottle: In Search of Haze
By Ken Weaver

I touched upon some of the highlights from this year’s Great American Beer Festival in my last column—but left out one of the main side missions. Like many of you, I’ve been tasting examples of hazy IPAs (aka “Vermont-style IPAs”, aka “New-England-style IPAs”, etc.) as I happen to cross paths with them. But I hadn’t had a chance to seriously go down that rabbit hole until recently. My upcoming Trending column in our January issue of All About Beer will be focused entirely on those hazy, murky, milkshakey incarnations of IPA, as well as whether or not, you know, brewing IPAs that look like grapefruit juice might trigger the apocalypse.

Short answer: Maybe.

The Great American Beer Festival happened to have half a dozen or so serious takes on the trend, like the yeast-hazed Green Acres from Virginia Beer Co., the heavily dry-hopped Sun Temple IPA from Colorado’s Yak and Yeti, or the high-protein Mass Riot from Prison City in upstate New York. Folks are using a variety of techniques to generate haze in their IPAs, from minimally flocculating yeast strains to high-protein malt bills—to just dry-hopping the bejeezus out of it—following in the footsteps of hazy-IPA trendsetters like The Alchemist, Trillium and Tree House. While many drinkers are completely against the trend of having a hazy/murky version of IPA gaining ground, others (like me) are finding them engaging and, often, an exceptional way to focus on juicy hop flavor and aroma. Presuming they’re fresh.

Have you been diggin the haze? Loathing it? Seeing more examples locally? NorCal’s seeing tons of breweries getting on board, and everything suggests 2017 is looking ever more hazy.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/2hWuGz8
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Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us here at The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club™!
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Hate when this happens!
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It sure is! What beer are you drinking?
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Beyond the Bottle: This Year’s Beers

I tend to avoid annual predictions because they tend to sound like they could have been true last year, at least in beer. Every brewery’s done an imperial stout, double IPA, an oaked beer, some form of questionable sour, and (soon!) a series of hazy IPAs. Most ingredients that are even remotely acceptable in brewing have been used. Every non-technical hop pun has been taken. Things doing well get piggybacked quickly. Exhibit A: fruit IPA. Exhibit B: hard soda.

But! In the spirit of the new year, some looks forward: Hazy IPAs are blowing up, inevitably. Kettle-sour approaches will probably also hit a peak in 2017, with knowledge of the practice spreading to anyone who wants to have a go, though I doubt most are in it for the long haul. These beers have a rough lactic edge more often than not, and complexity usually isn’t there. For producers of more traditional sours: a kettle-sour fallout likely can’t come soon enough. A friend works with South African hops, and (from everything I hear) they’ll be popping up more frequently next year, with strong debuts in beers by folks such as Firestone and Bottle Logic. Interest in newer varieties—and awareness of hop-variety relevance—have probably never been higher. I’d prefer to see hard sodas fizzle. 2017 won’t be the year of the dunkel.

If we haven’t already, we’ll likely reach Peak Tropical in 2017, as we’ve had so many inroads in that direction as of late: lots of breweries with fruit IPAs, tons of interest in new tropical-inclined hop varieties (from New Zealand, Australia, etc.), beers that emphasize ‘tropical’ in their marketing (with or w/o fruit additions), countless new IPAs named via some tweak of the words “juice” and/or “juicy”, etc. We’re all looking for our tropical beach somewhere.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/2k2FYYc
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Our kind of tree!
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One of our greatest fears!
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