There was once a time when hazy beer would have been frowned upon. A crystal clear pint is the standard of how beer should be. However over the last decade or so, it seems hazy beer is not only acceptable, but loved by many. So who made the first hazy beer (on purpose)?
My first batch of homebrew was hazy, but I didn’t set out for it to be. However it still tasted good. My second batch was lovely and clear if I wanted it to be. By leaving about an inch of the beer in the bottle meant the beer in the glass was clear. Anyway back to the question in hand.
Who Made The First Hazy Beer?
It is well recognised that John Kimmich of the Alchemist Brewery in Stowe, Vermont USA is the person responsible. His beer Heady Topper, an American Double IPA at 8.0% Vol is the beer in question. This was back in 2003 and it wasn’t received with glowing reviews by many. However it has changed the world of IPA’s and even started a new style.
That style is the NEW England IPA (NEIPA), but also known as hazy IPA or juicy IPA.
The Alchemist Brewery started life 2003 as a brew pub in the village of Waterbury. It was founded by John and his wife Jen. This is where Heady Topper was first brewed and rolled out for the customers.
Having said that John has apparently been making hazy IPA’s since the 90’s.
In 2011 John and Jen decided to open a small production brewery in Waterbury. This is when Heady Topper was first put into cans.
The same year Storm Irene wreaked havoc in New England and the brew pub had to shut its doors. This lead to a focus on the new production brewery and selling Heady Topper from their as well as distributing it too.
In 2016 a new brewery and visitors centre was opened in Stowe, VT. Heady Topper as well as many other beers are now produced on a larger scale.
So it seems that John Kimmich and his Heady Topper is responsible for the New England style IPA’s that have become so popular.
John Kimmich interview at Paste Magazine.
How Do Breweries Make A Hazy IPA?
There are a number of things that can contribute to making a hazy IPA. And with this particular style the hazy appearance is on purpose.
A process called dry hopping can contribute to the haze in a beer. Hops added late in the fermentation process, or even at the end of fermentation will not break down as much. So the molecules will add to the haze in the beer.
The proteins from oats and wheats, along with polyphenols from the dry hops come together and suspend in the beer, which also contributes to the haze.
The last step to get that haze is by not filtering the beer. By not filtering the beer all those molecules, proteins and polyphenols remain in the beer.
The type of yeast used by the brewer can also contribute to the haze in beer. Low flocculation yeasts will leave the beer more hazy.
The Hazy Beer Trend
Even though John Kimmich’s Heady Topper IPA may of not be well received by many beer lovers initially. It started a new trend, a new style of beer was born.
Jump ahead a decade or so and the Hazy IPA is a very popular beer. Thousands of Hazy IPA’s are brewed by thousands of craft breweries.
It is now a renowned style of beer that is loved by many, even those that may have turned their noses up originally.
However things have taken a more inventive turn with this beer. Heady Topper although hazy does not compromise on bitterness, nor has it moved away from itself.
Many hazy IPA’s today have gone way further with many other ingredients being added and less bitterness.
I happen to love a standard IPA, I love the bitterness that comes with most IPA’s. However although a hazy IPA may seem less bitter. I still like them, well most of them.
The complex smooth creamy mouthfeel is a joy and for me they also look great too. The fact remains that the New England IPA’s are a great style of beer. Therefore they are here to stay, they certainly are not a style that is here today gone tomorrow.
I haven’t had the opportunity to try Heady Topper yet, mainly because as far as I know it isn’t available in the UK. I would love to get my hands on this beer though, so will try and find away to hunt a can or two down.
If you have had the chance to drink a Heady Topper, then do share your thoughts. And if you know how to get hold of it in the UK, then obviously share that information too.
I guess there is only one other thing to say, and that is to thank John Kimmich for the hazy New England IPA.