Monday, November 5, 2018

Brewers weigh in on the next phase of hazy IPAs

Alex Knight of Turning Point and Matt Reynolds of Celestial Beerworks brewing a batch
of #juicebros, a collaborative double IPA with blueberries released in July (Turning Point Beer).

The juice is loose, not just in North Texas, but across the country as juicy and hazy IPAs are making a play for the title of craft beer's most popular style.

Earlier this year, the Brewers Association added three "juicy or hazy" styles to its competition guidelines, and one of those ended up being the most-entered category at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival. "Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale" wrested the top spot from "American-Style India Pale Ale," ending a reign that began in 2002.

Once considered a fad by some, hazy and juicy beers now enjoy a level of legitimacy with the establishment of formal descriptions and the quick ascendancy to the top of the competition ranks. The question now: Where do brewers go from here in terms of the evolution of these highly sought-after styles?

According to Matt Reynolds, owner and head brewer at Celestial Beerworks in Dallas, a first step may be to spend time improving on what's already out there.

"I feel like consistency and quality are something that lacks with these styles," says Reynolds. "We hope to dial in our system and show that these beers can be delicate and well-executed like some of the other popular styles out there."

Optimizing aspects of production is also a focus for Alex Knight, co-founder and director of brewing operations at Turning Point Beer of Bedford.

"We're working to get better extraction and higher volume, as well as trying to get more juicy characteristics into our beers, says Knight. "Another thing is seeing how to push the limits with more hops, while maybe increasing the malt and making more balanced beers."

From there, the sky is seemingly the limit, especially considering the open-ended nature of the newly-minted definitions. Baseline characteristics only call for beers to be hazy, with low bitterness, a softer texture and high hop content. Hops can be of any variety, which opens the door to a direction Reynolds is looking to explore.

"We plan to focus heavily on new or underutilized hop varieties to showcase different flavor profiles than what typically is associated with these types of beers," says Reynolds. "I love Australian hops, so we will be using those a lot in our juicy/hazy recipes."

Knight believes mash-ups of existing styles are also a possibility, with brewers bringing together elements from different types of beers to form a new breed of IPA.

"One thing that pops into my mind is the brut IPA," says Knight. "We've been tinkering with ideas that combine the dryness and drinkability of a brut IPA with the adjuncts and high hopping rates from juicy IPAs."

Of course, brewers have already expanded on the category by adding lactose to create milkshake IPAs, while oat and wheat cream IPAs are also being made at breweries around the country. As for what is destined to be the next big thing in juicy and hazy styles, that revelation is likely to come from brewers choosing to delve into uncharted territory.

Here in North Texas, breweries like Celestial and Turning Point are already operating in that realm, working to stay a step ahead as the haze craze enters a new phase.

Originally published as part of a special section on NTX Beer Week in the November 1, 2018 edition of the Dallas Observer. An online copy of the complete newspaper is available by clicking here.

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