Gail Williams of Beer by Bart does her best to stir the pot for this month’s Beer Blogging Session, asking us to weigh in on the highly charged topic of Hazy, Cloudy, Juicy IPAs. I would love join the internet mosh pit on the subject with a blistering screed on why hazy IPAs are a hideous communist plot, symptomatic of the decline of American civilization and all sort of other horrible things. While the subject elicits passion on both sides, I’ll just say I’m not a fan of hazy, cloudy IPAs and that’s about the end of it.
I’ve ordered a couple without realizing it until the murky pint was set down in front of me. I’ve been too polite to send it back. And truth be told, they weren’t too hard to choke down. I actually like the unfiltered Simpleton IPA from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales based in Santa Cruz, CA. Simpleton IPA is arguably a hoppy farmhouse ale rather than a cloudy IPA. Whatever you want to call it, the yeasty suspension works to soften and round out the herbaceous hop character. It’s done skillfully, with a subtle touch to create one of those refreshing brews that maintains a lot of depth. I guess hazy IPAs aren’t all bad.
Sorry, it’s hard for me to bring a lot of passion to this debate. Life’s too short to get worked up over beer styles or brewing philosophes, given that brewing purists have their objections. Experimenting with things like the interplay of hops in a unfiltered beer or pushing styles to their logical limit is what makes the current brewing revolution so compelling. But considering some of the pints of hoppy sludge I’ve seen, some brewers aren’t driven by creativity and innovation, but how to make a quick buck on what’s selling today. Now if consumers crave a pint full of hoppy crud and brewers are willing to satisfy that demand, well that’s the way the free market works. Call yourself a “craft brewer” all you want, but if you’re chasing fads by resorting to brewing gimmicks like using flour or generating excessive yeast and grain in suspension, you’ve lost any right to claim you’re brewing with honesty, integrity and a passion for brewing excellence, even if you slap the Brewers Association Independence Seal on your label. You’re just brewing the equivalent of Not Your Father’s Root Beer or God forbid, Zima, just on a smaller economic scale.
OK, maybe I’m starting to get a little passionate about this.