What is an IPA?
Not a week goes by where we don't get questions about our IPA's, specifically of the "hazy" variety. Where did they originally come from? What makes them hazy? In what ways are they different from more "traditional", West Coast-style IPA's? Well, we thought it was high-time that we addressed some of these inquiries in a series of short posts aimed at highlighting one of the most popular styles in craft beer today.
First, we start off with a brief history! As with nearly all historical left-turns, the origins of hazy IPA are similarly rooted in a move away from the orthodoxy of the time, in search of something new and different.
In the late 90's and most of the 00's, there was a race to achieve the maximum level of palate-assaulting, punch-you-in-the-mouth hoppiness, which at the time was much more synonymous with "bitter" than with the myriad other sensory terms that we use today.
Floral, Resinous, vs Piney
While lip service was given to terms like "floral," "resinous," and "piney," make no mistake - the goal was to ratchet up IBU's (International Bitterness Units) to the highest level possible. There were of course balanced and even-handed approaches to the style available on the market, but most craft beer aficionados set their compass towards the Isle of Bitterness and never looked back.
One of the other hallmarks of a well-made West Coast-style IPA was generally thought to be a crystal clarity that, although typically a bit more amber in hue, wasn't too dissimilar from the clarity found in a great pilsner. A dry, sparkling, transparent liquid was a beacon to all that the brewer had a grasp of both technique and tradition, and thus the world went around. Thus, that is, until a couple of brewpubs in Vermont quite literally changed the course of craft beer...