The Haze Fades Into the Sunset
Welcome to our fourth and final Hazy September post. To recap, we started with BeachRock Bill’s perspective and selections. He gave us his homebrewer’s-eye-view of the key factors involved in producing the brew, including the pH or acidity level of your water (hazys have a lower pH, i.e., higher acidity, than West Coast IPAs), the choice of hops to create a fruity–whether tropical or citrus or both–taste profile, and BRB’s six-point brewer’s checklist for achieving just the right juicy-pillowy haze.
The six-point list included the word flocculating, which we’d never heard before.
And, because BRB is not only our brew guru, but also our esteemed San Diego contributing editor, he chose three pretty good San Diego hazys from Burgeon, Societe, and Pure Project. While BRB reviewed “Glorious Odds” from Societe (which his tasters dubbed “Aqueous Dogs” because of its “whiff of wet dog”), Eleanor and I recently sampled Societe’s “Bulbous Flowers,” which was orange, sticky, and fresh as advertised. So grateful that our local Trader Joe’s features such good stuff.
Next, BrewHead Ted hoppily reviewed “The Mothman,” a signature hazy from Ogopogo Brewing located in BHT’s native San Gabriel; “Food Fight” from Hawthorne’s Common Space; and “Super Fun! Hazy Hop!” described as “a hoppy love hug for your tongue” by Glendale’s Paperback Brewing.
Then, Eleanor took us on a hazy three-county tour that included Orange County’s Bottle Logic (“Automated World”), L.A. County’s HopSaint (“Bring the Noise”), and Ventura County’s MadeWest (“Short-Lived Collaboration” with Monterey’s Alvarado Street, which I guess technically adds a fourth county to the tour).
So Now It’s My Turn
I’ll come clean right from the giddyup.
I never described myself as a BIG fan of the New England-style, aka hazy India Pale Ale, though I have tasted what some beer cognoscenti dub the original New England hazy: “Heady Topper” from Vermont’s The Alchemist. Because of this month-long collaboration, I’ve gained a new appreciation and respect for the style. And there’s no question that when you find a brew with a dense haze, a distinctive aroma, pillowy mouthfeel, complex taste, and a long finish that adds dimension to the initial flavors over a 15-20-second afterglow, you’ve found a keeper with a high crave factor, as BeachRock Bill would say.
So, let’s break it down. Instead of three separate beers, I’ve reviewed a couple of hazys from two different breweries (Wild Barrel and Crowns & Hops), and then a couple more hazys just for good measure (from Tarantula Hill and HopSecret).
Note: The brief hop profile descriptions come from Beertanica.com. Hyperlinked hop varieties include extra in-depth information on the hop for those who may want to learn more.
The numerical ratings are on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being “are you joking?” to 5 being “perfection.”
Wild Barrel of San Marcos
San Marcos is technically in BeachRock Bill’s territory, San Diego County, but we don’t think he needs to worry that we’re encroaching. He’s clearly got a plethora of better choices. We’re just lucky that our local craft beer emporia carry some of that good north county deliciousness. Wild Barrel (founded in 2016) won a gold medal at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival–for an entry from their “Vice Sour” series, though, not for their hazys.
“Catch You on the Hazy Side” 7.5% ABV
Hops: Galaxy (citrus & tropical) and Citra (intense citrus–duh!)
Blurb: Couldn’t find one…
- 4-Good opacity, nice and orange
- 2-Very faint, slightly citrus aroma
- 3.5-Mouthfeel is tingly, with a juicy punch
- 4-Taste is piney, bitter, complex, sophisticated with a soupçon of apple cider
- 3.5-This hazy does have a lasting finish, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table
- 3-Crave Factor
“Mo’ Hazy” 6.8% ABV
Hops: Citra and Cashmere (silky texture)
Blurb: “This Hazy IPA is dry hopped with Citra and Cashmere hops giving flavors of pineapple, citrus, & strawberry.”
- 4-Appearance is opaque and kind of “amber waves of grain”-colored
- 2-Aroma out of the can is dank. Merriam-Webster defines this quality as that smell in your basement: damp, musty, and cold. A beer taster might call it “sticky, juicy, very pungent, and of a high level.” This kind of “dank” was first used to describe potent, highly aromatic buds of cannabis sativa, whose cousin just happens to be the hop.
- 3.5-Pillowy AND juicy mouthfeel
- 3-Flavors bright, but not highly distinguishing
- 3.5-Nice long finish, with subtle echoes that remind you pleasantly of what you just sipped
- 2-Crave factor
Tarantula Hill, Thousand Oaks
This brewery is a new one for me, but apparently not for a number of established independent craft brewers who have collaborated with Tarantula Hill, including Mikkeller, Modern Times, Knee Deep, Topa Topa, Bottle Logic, Paperback, Burgeon, Mumford, and Casa Agria. I think Tarantula Hill, named after a local landmark, was founded in 2019.
Brewmaster Mike Richmond and Lead Brewer Dante Tomei are both Stone alumni. Mike, who has a masters from the UC Davis Master Brewing Program, was Brewing Process Manager at Stone, and worked there for 9 years. Dante worked at Stone over 8 years in all phases of production brewing.
“Liquid Candy” 7.5% ABV
Hops: Citra, Mosaic (pine, tropical, bitter citrus), and Motueka (floral, fruity, tropical, herbal spice–eg. basil, rosemary)
Blurb: “Featuring NZ motueka hops this is a clean, smooth hazy with plenty of juicy, citrusy zest.”
- 3.5-Appearance: light golden, opaque, thick
- 3-Aroma: lemony
- 4-Mouthfeel: pillowy, satisfying
- 4-Taste: lemony hard candy (Lemonheads?)
- 3.5-Finish: short, unremarkable
- 3-Crave Factor
Crowns & Hops, Inglewood
“BPLB (Black & Brown People Love Beer)” 6.5% ABV
Hops: El Dorado (for candy-like aromas) and Motueka
Blurb: “This beer offers the tropical and stone fruit notes you’ve come to expect with a Hazy IPA. The beer is designed to have an incredible mouth feel and aroma punctuating the hops and process culminating in a bouquet of tropical fruit-forward flavors that make you say, this beer represents the movement.”
- 3-Appearance translucent, warm yellow
- 2.5-Aroma: very light, does not advertise the flavors to be savored
- 3.5-Mouthfeel is juicy, warm, and luscious
- 4-Taste: peach, pineapple, and lemon
- 3.5-Finish drops off quick and doesn’t linger
- 3-Crave Factor
“Inglewood Juice” 7.0% ABV
Blurb: “Inglewood Juice is a Juicy IPA full of tropical notes and a traditional hop signature made popular by the West Coast IPA. This beer was brewed for the people of Inglewood, CA. A city full of diversity, swag, hustle, resilience, progressiveness, and love.”
- 3-Appearance: dank, not opaque
- 4-Aroma: grapefruity
- 3-Mouthfeel: bubbly, juicy
- 3-Taste: solid, nothing outstanding
- 3-Finish: short-lived, but pleasant
- 2-Crave Factor
Hop Secret, Monrovia
Hop Secret, which appears to have been founded in 2020, is a microbrewery whose beer we discovered at Trader Joe’s. On their website, Hop Secret says they are “dedicated to producing clean and delicious beer across a wide spectrum of styles and flavors.” Their top sellers include: Close Talker Lager (2021 CA Craft Brewers Cup Silver Medal Winner), 8381 Belgian Wit (2021 CA Craft Brewers Cup Gold Medal Winner), Deep Space DIPA, Here 2 Stay IPA, and Starhazer Hazy IPA, profiled below.
“Starhazer” 7.0% ABV
Hops: El Dorado, Citra, Amarillo (mild citrus with spice and tropical overtones)
Blurb: “Tropical juice bomb with refreshing aromas of mango, guava, and papaya. Immediate juice flavor and mouthfeel – bright, clean finish”
- 3.5-Appearance lightly opaque and golden
- 1.5-Aroma is almost nonexistent, maybe slightly tropical
- 4-Mouthfeel is good–fuzzy, buzzy, and hazy
- 3-Taste is bright, bitter, and slightly pineapple
- 3-Finish is mostly short and unsatisfying, but we found that a kind of dill pickle note lasts a long time on the palate
- 2-Crave factor
What’s Your Favorite Hazy?
While I agree with BeachRock Bill that “everyone gets a trophy,” I would say the standouts from your four bloggers were:
- Pure Project’s “Formless Reflections”
- Ogopogo’s “The Mothman”
- MadeWest’s “Short-Lived” collaboration with Alvarado Street
- Tarantula Hill’s “Liquid Candy”
We’d like to hear what YOUR favorite hazys are — do you like the same as we do? Do you like others we covered better than we did? Do you like other hazys produced by the breweries we wrote about? Or would you like us to weigh in on your personal favorite? Let us know!
Please drop us a line at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you! And we’ll collect your reactions and post them.
–C. C. Hansen