Jan 12, 2022 - Food and Drink

West Coast IPA makes a comeback amid hazy craze

A pour of the collaboration beer from WeldWerks, OMF and Firestone Walker.

A pour of a West Coast IPA brewed by WeldWerks, Our Mutual Friend and Firestone Walker. Photo courtesy of OMF.

A new mindset is taking hold when it comes to the nation's most popular beer style: Make IPA Clear Again.

State of the pint: The haze craze that made murky IPAs the top beer trend is reaching a plateau, brewers say.

  • The latest fervor is reimagined West Coast editions — the clear but still bold-flavored IPA that birthed the hop-forward craft beer boom.

What they're saying: "For years, I drank hazy IPAs," says WeldWerks head brewer Skip Schwartz. "Now I find it more refreshing to drink a beer that's just a little more crisper with a little more bitterness to it. It reminds me of those early days."

What's new: The latest West Coast IPAs are not the bitter bombs of a decade ago, when brewers competed to produce the highest IBU beer.

  • Instead, the beers accentuate new varieties of hops that made hazy IPAs so popular. Flavors range from citrus to coconut and melon to thyme.
  • "It's just the evolution of the hops we are able to get," says Our Mutual Friend head brewer Jan Chodkowski. "Once citra and mosaic came around, it opened up a whole new world."

Be smart: Hazy or juicy IPAs are opaque and full-bodied because hops and proteins from wheat or oats hang in suspension and give the beer a softer mouthfeel but more filling finish.

  • By contrast, the more restrained West Coast IPAs are clearer and lighter.

Zoom in: A new collaboration by hazy IPA makers WeldWerks and OMF showcases the shifting industry palate.

  • The two Colorado breweries teamed up with California's Firestone Walker to make a West Coast-style IPA called "Knock the Froth Off," which combined old-school hops like chinook and cascade with popular new varieties.

What's next: WeldWerks plans to have a consistently rotating West Coast-style IPA on draft, a first in recent years, while OMF is making its West Coast-style "Time's Arrow" more available in distribution to meet the demand.

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