If you love beer, you may have heard of the "haze craze," the chase for craft breweries to develop their own version of what's now known as the New England double IPA, an unfiltered and unpasteurized beer marked by its slightly cloudy, opaque appearance (its "haze").
What's so great about the haze? Haze is really about hops, or flower buds that give beer its bitter, zesty, or citric notes depending on the kinds of hops used. IPAs (India Pale Ales) are known for their "hoppiness," which means that the hops are steeped in the beer long after fermentation, a method originally used by British sea voyagers who discovered that hops preserve beer for longer. Double IPAs, which originate in New England, up the hops content, meaning hazy beers are packed with some intense and oftentimes very complex flavors.
To experience what's happening at the forefront of the craft beer world, visit these 5 New England breweries making the tastiest, hoppiest, and of course haziest double IPAs around.
The Alchemist (Stowe, VT)
Heady Topper is credited as the first "hazy" IPA
Credited with creating the first hazy IPA, called the Heady Topper, Alchemist is a must on any New England brewery tour. Heady Topper is a double IPA with a nutty, slightly funky flavor and aroma that drives beer enthusiasts mad. In fact, when the brewery first released this unusual beer in 2011, at the time only available on tap, beer lovers desperately attempted to can the beer themselves in pub bathrooms. Thankfully, the beer is now professionally canned, and Alchemist even insists that beer drinkers experience Heady Topper this way, since the pungent hops flavor is apparently better preserved in aluminum. Pick up a case at the brewery or enjoy at a nearby bar (they're only sold within a 25-mile radius of the brewery), like the Matterhorn.
Beers to try: Heady Topper, Focal Banger
Lawson's Finest Liquids (Warren, VT)
Sip of Sunshine has garnered a serious cult status
Lawson's brews the cult favorite Sip of Sunshine, described as a "tropical vacation in a glass" for its bright, hoppy flavor and pleasant hints of tangerine. The unicorn of hazy IPAs, Sip of Sunshine is only available in Vermont and Connecticut and on a rotating basis that is, even to purveyors, entirely unpredictable. When cases do show up on shelves, enthusiasts will likely have already checked their beer apps and scooped up a four-pack (you can only buy two four-packs at once—if you can find that many!). Rather than join the rat race, try enjoying the beer on tap at the tavern at Mad River Glen ski area in Lawson's hometown of Warren, VT, open year-round.
Beers to try: Sip of Sunshine, Session #8
Hill Farmstead (Greensboro Bend, VT)
Hill Farmstead offers great beers in a beautiful setting
For some picturesque scenery and truly unique beer, making the trek up to Hill Farmstead, located in a remote area of northern Vermont by the Canadian border, is entirely worth it. The brewery is, as its name would imply, at the top of a hill on an actual farm, and includes a general store and lovely café with flights, oysters, and charcuterie. The beers are the real draw, which, in addition to their beloved double IPA Susan, also include those with notes of Earl Gray tea or a hint of mimosa. The flavors are precise and refined, the closest beer has ever come to wine.
Beers to try: Susan, any version of Civil Disobedience
Battery Steele Brewing (Portland, ME)
Battery Steele is one of several "incubator" breweries in Portland
While there's been plenty of hype about Portland's Bissell Brothers brewery, Battery Steele, the best of several excellent breweries in an "incubator" lab just outside city center, certainly deserves more attention from haze fanatics. The double IPA to try is Flume, which is fruity and less funky than the likes of Heady Topper, though the brewery also has an "experimental" series, where they brew IPAs with unique flavors like passion fruit for limited periods of time. Make sure to also visit the other incubator breweries, all of which share space in a large, long-defunct industrial building. Battery Steele is a great place for IPA fanatics to meet and nerd out.
Beers to try: Flume
Trillium (Boston, MA)
Trillium is prized for its quality ingredients
Trillium has three brewing facilities in Boston, though there are only two where you can try draught beers, in Canton and Roslindale. Trillium is known for its high-quality hops and grain ingredients, as well as some very bold flavor experimentation (including a double IPA brewed with pinot gris), and one needs only to look at their daily lines to see that this family-owned brewery has staked a formidable claim in the craft brew world. Trillium's most celebrated hazy double IPAs are Congress Street and Mettle, both of which have discernable murk and distinctive flavor. Mettle, the more intense of the two and a cult favorite, has hints of nectarine and grapes to offset the not unpleasant bitterness from double steeping three types of hops.
Beers to try: Vicinity, Mettle, Congress Street
The great thing about a New England brewery tour is that it's perfect for any season; enjoy a beer on tap at Mad River Glen apres ski in the winter or sit outside and enjoy the scenery at Hill Farmstead in the summer. Note to the wise: double IPAs have a higher-than-average alcohol content, with ABVs ranging from 8 to 11%, so be sure to bring along a trusted designated driver.