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.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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