Starting from New England this style of beer has swept across the country with the grapefruit flavors they have. Earlier this year the Brewers Association finally formally acknowledged this trend by recognizing them as a separate style from IPAs and Pale Ales. This is the big deal as the release of judging guidelines means all these beers now have their own categories and competitions. But looking at these guidelines there is a ton of vague language and unhelpful descriptions. That is the problem we want to understand today.
To learn the difference between an IPA and a Pale Ale check our American Pale Ale Beer Style.
Comparison with an American style brown ale
The one thing we find frustrating about these beers is the complete lack of rules as to what counts as a hazy IPA. Are they supposed to be fruit-forward or really hoppy and bitter? Are they semi-transparent or totally opaque? The easiest way to dive into the world of hazy style guidelines is to check the Brewers Association website.
We want to compare it to another American Ale style, the humble brown ale. Aside from having a brown color, it’s kind of tough to say what the average ABV, the mouthfeel of even malt profile should be for a brown ale. But if you look at the judging criteria from the Brewers Association website we actually get a pretty detailed description of what an American-style brown ale is.
All in all, it may be a challenge to describe a relatively simple style like an American brown ale but this description does paint a pretty accurate picture of that brew.
But for the hazy IPA, the descriptions are even hazier than the brew. Low to a very high degree of cloudiness is typical of these beers, Starch, yeast, hops, protein, and/or other compounds contribute to a wide range of hazy appearances within this category. It doesn’t really give any guidelines at all.