BecauseWeCAN Vol.5: Crazy For Hazy

When deciding upon the direction for this instalment of BecauseWeCAN, The Crafty Pint's look at some of the more out there beers on the market, I hit up a few of my local bottlos, asking staff what the trends are this spring.

And no matter whether it was the crafty superspots that double as adult daycare, or the wine joints that begrudgingly stock a few beers to please the owner’s stepson, the answer was always the same: hazies. 

When the first hazy IPAs were brewed in Australia, I was among many who were skeptical as to their longevity, mostly because I had no idea what they were. Now, with the wider world of hazies moving so fast and in so many directions at once, it can still be challenging knowing exactly what they are, although I do know there's an awful lot of them. And that I was definitely wrong.

A fast-moving category is, of course, the ideal breeding ground for innovation, meaning we had plenty to pick from when it came to exploring those looking to push boundaries. In the end, we landed upon one without any traditional hops, one with next to no booze, and another which brought a long-running Pursuit of Hoppiness to an end.

So, without further ado, welcome to BecauseWeCAN Vol.5, celebrating weird, wonderful and sometimes painfully confusing beers and the brewery teams who dream them up – all assessed against our patented rating system for novelty (out of 5 Totos) and nailing the brief (out of 5 Ronseals).


Beer 1: Brick Lane Sidewinder Hazy Pale

It's ultra-low alcohol, but is it ultra-low flavour? And just do you make such a thing?

 

Brewer's Notes

I’ve been interested in low and no alc beers for some time now and managed to convince the rest of the company that 1.1 percent ABV was a good idea. The concept here was that, although it doesn’t seem like much, the extra fermentation over a 0.5 percent ABV product really broadens the horizon of what you can do, and the sorts of flavours you can work on developing.

At 1.1, we’re able to produce something that really doesn’t compromise in flavour when compared to its full strength brethren in similar styles – we’re given far more leeway to add body, hop structure and wonderful fermentation-derived flavours that avoid the beer coming across as hollow, watery, worty or unfermented.  Basically, the central idea and ABV was designed around flavour, and making the best flavoured ultra low alc possible.

When brewing low and no alc brands, we focus on raw materials, special wort production methods and yeast, rather than the physical dealcoholising approach of producing regular beer and removing the alcohol with techniques such as with diafiltration or distillation. This approach was first born out of necessity, as when we first started we had no means to physically dealcoholise beer, but over time we got really good at working this way, and now view it as both a more natural and more creative approach.

Using these biological methods opens a huge range of possible raw material choices – perhaps the most exciting is the huge range of yeasts out there that are really well suited for the job – yeasts which still under the right conditions produce the wonderful flavour and aroma compounds we associate with beer, while producing very little booze. Getting this right isn’t simple, but when you nail the process you have the potential to make something special.

In Sidewinder Haze Pale, we combine some of these special techniques with some equally special raw materials – lots of high kilned malt to build flavour and replace some of the structure lost from the lack of alcohol, coupled with surprisingly big quantities of hops – both in the brewhouse and in dry hopping. We pay very close attention to the yeast and fermentation to ensure the right balance of esters and other flavour compounds, while tightly controlling attenuation. Process control is key here, because ±0.1 percent ABV makes a material difference to the beer in a way that’s not the case with something up at 5 percent.

I’ve been dreaming of this beer form some time now, especially with the daily commute from Abbotsford to Brick Lane. It’s something I can have more than one of prior to driving home, and feel completely refreshed without compromising on something that more an approximation of a beer. I think low and no alc – and Sidewinder in particular – is perfect for introducing beer into more occasions; for me it has all qualities I look for in a hop-forward hazy pale, without any worries about what I need to do or where I need to be next!

I hope it converts craft beer lovers to the possibility of good low alc without any compromise, but more importantly I hope it brings craft beer to new people and occasions. Jon Seltin

 

"Please don’t call your beer hazy if I can see through it."

 

We’re not in Kansas anymore...or are we?

Ultra low alcohol beers are having a real moment right now, aren’t they? I am both happy for the industry and teetotallers alike, even if it does sometimes feel like I am living in a weird episode of The Simpsons. 

No strangers to a full strength hazy, what with their ongoing Avalanche series among others, Brick Lane have produced a hazy pale which comes in at just 0.3 standard drinks, presumably for the designated driver who simply must sample some hops. If we don’t get hoverboards this decade, low alcohol hazy pales will have to do.

3 TOTOS


Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Promising "tropical, bright expressions of our favourite hop varieties" at just 1.1 percent ABV, crack this tin open and you’ll be off to a good start with a peaches and cream aroma that smells like a full strength beverage. Pouring it into the glass I am also relieved to see it is suitably hazy (seriously, please don’t call your beer hazy if I can see through it).

Taste wise, it both fits the bill and nails the brief, tasting like a posh icy pole with citrus, melon and pineapple notes. Yes, you can tell a little alcohol has gone missing along the way, but for 0.3 standard drinks you are getting a lot of flavour, enough to even sting your nostrils a little.

5 RONSEALS


Final Thoughts

These would go absolutely missing on a hot day. It may not satisfy all hazy lovers but if you’re looking for a hazy you can crush en masse this is your guy.

GABS TASTER - SHARED CAN - TALL BOY - FOUR PACK - BBQ’S SORTED

Read the original Crafty Pint review here.


Beer 2: One Drop T-3021 Hazy IPA

Brewer's Notes

Beer is pretty fun. So we usually all sit down, over a beer, and throw s̶p̶a̶g̶h̶e̶t̶t̶i̶ ideas at the wall and see what sticks. An IPA without hops sounded a lot less crazy than a worldwide pandemic at the time so we ran with it.

What can we make so that both ourselves and others can learn from it? Over a (distanced) lockdown beverage, we pondered a beer with no hops? One step further, what about an IPA with no hops? Thus a hunt for the latest hop-but-not-hops products was born.

I've always seen what these products do to complement a beer but I really wanted to see if you could just make a beer with them. I called up every supplier we had and explained the concept and what products were out there. After far too many ... (pauses) ... and re-explaining, everyone was either on board or could fire me in the right direction.

I found a lot more advanced products out there than we were expecting, so year one, 2020, gave birth to our inaugural beer in this annual series – the T-3020 Synthetic West Coast IPA. For this year’s version we took a more contemporary approach and decided to take it down the hazy route and thus T-3021 Synthetic Hazy IPA was built. Having already dipped our toes in the synthetic space before, suppliers knew exactly what we were after this year and had a range of brand new products about to hit, or just hitting, the market that we could try.

Firstly, we started off with a thick base of our infamous Multi-Stacked Oats™ and layered up on that some chit malt, Maris Otter, and a kiss of wheat malt. Having a chewy boi base gives a solid body for all the products to both be supported by, and play off. I learned last year with T-3020 that having a too dry body creates an issue for finding balance in the beer – this is one of the main reasons we chose a hazy style for this version.

We loaded a chilled whirlpool up with Incognito® then sent it cold side to open-top ferment with our new in-house Hazy Yeast Blend™ for that big ester energy. All hop products were added post-fermentation, with the lineup featuring: HopBurst® TNS solution from Totally Natural Solutions in the UK; Citrus Hop Extract from Barth-Haas; HopZoil®, which is the result of taking only fresh hops at harvest and steam-distilling them onsite on the farm to capture all essential oils, from Bintani/Hopco; SPECTRUM™ density hop oil: 100 percent hops in liquid form with no carriers from HPA/Barth-Haas Group.

Although I think upon first sip there is an uneasy imbalance to the beer – as expected from these products and last time we used them – I feel there is enough character from the yeast, and enough body, to give it a unique enjoyment for the curious drinker. Also, for anyone from the future, this would just taste like home for you.

Other brewers, professional and amateur, were in my mind firstly for making this – a final product we could share around. Kind of explaining: "Hey, this is how these products translate on a scaled up/professional product". For our suppliers, having these complementary products right at the forefront of the hop profile in a beer can really put it into perspective for them.

Plus, we had a ton of people asking if there was a re-release or new version coming out. For those few die hard T-3020 fans, this ones for you. As for the ideal setting for the beer? Watching Terminator 2 in your undies. Nick Calder-Scholes


"Muuum! One Drop is doing weird shit again!"

 

We’re not in Kansas anymore...or are we?

In perhaps the most detailed piece of storytelling I’ve ever drunk, One Drop promises that their T-3021 Hazy IPA is a transmission sent back from the year 3021, a time where hops no longer grow, forcing brewers to use synthesised hop products such as oils, derivatives and solutions in their hazy IPAs.

This is one beer where the description on the can not only informs you about what you’re drinking but makes the drinking experience a playful punchline.

5 TOTOS


Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Pouring a light straw colour that is unmistakably (and thankfully) hazy, one sip of this bad boy will spin your compass around before it shatters on the floor. The various hop extracts, oils and solutions tease different parts of your tongue, with a ginger like spicy warmth starting things off, then vanilla ice cream and a tart bitterness saying hi, before an evil hoppy finish gets the last laugh.

I still don’t know how I feel about this beer but I can easily say it is unlike any hazy IPA I’ve ever had. Perhaps I will have to procreate so some distant version of myself can try the beer of 3021 and make up their mind then. If you’re not ready for the beer of the future then too bad, it’s already here. 

4 RONSEALS


Final Thoughts

“Muuum! One Drop is doing weird shit again!”

GABS TASTER - SHARED CAN - TALL BOY - FOUR PACK - BBQ’S SORTED


Beer 3: Hargreaves Hill Pursuit of Hoppiness Number 10

 

Brewer's Notes

This was national sales manager Andrew Petty’s passion project: to set out on a Pursuit of Hoppiness. With this particular release, it seemed a logical decision to have number ten reflect its position in the series as a big ten percenter: a culmination of the series shown in ABV and also amount of hops required to create this hazy triple IPA.

The idea was a simple one: to create a series of beers that honoured the special role that hops can play in flavouring a beer. It was also a good opportunity for us to give craft beer enthusiasts a little insight into the brewing process, with varieties, additions and time frame [of the stages of dry-hopping] listed on the can label.

We wanted to produce a beer that showed what we had learnt through the series up until now [and] a fun part of this series is that we don’t have any secrets, and in fact have the process right there on the can for anyone to see. For this one, you find the following:

  • HOPS – Citra and Amarillo Cryo
  • MALT – Pilsner Malt, Wheat, Oats
  • Dry Hop #1 – Mid-fermentation. Citra 2.5g/L, Amarillo 2.5g/L
  • Dry Hop #2 – Immediately after fermentation. Citra 5g/L, Amarillo 5g/L
  • Dry Hop #3 – After 1 week conditioning. Citra 7.5g/L, Amarillo 7.5g/L

As much as we brewed this beer to drink ourselves, we also really wanted beer lovers of all kinds to get their hands on and hopefully enjoy it. At ten percent it’s not for the fainthearted so it’s advised to drink responsibly, ideally on a sunny day, relaxing, where you’re able to sip slowly, allowing the liquid temperature to change and pick up more of the levels of flavour. Adrian Folkers


Why does my tongue feel like an unchewed piece of Juicy Fruit?

 

We’re not in Kansas anymore...or are we?

The Hargreaves Hill Pursuit of Hoppiness series is exactly the type of brewing that I love: boundary pushing beers unafraid of failure. This time it’s a hazy triple IPA, triple dry hopped and packing 100 percent ABV. 

I heard a lot of hype about this one and couldn’t rip that tinny open soon enough.

3 TOTOS


Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Pouring a pale yellow so chunky you could cut it, this Harry Potter potion of a hazy swirls with a depth of layers and tastes like a mandarin that is also an assassin. Although hellbent on smothering every taste bud in your mouth with big, bold, fruity flavours, this beer is also a real relaxer (no doubt thanks to the high alcohol content) and exceptionally well balanced.

The alcohol hits first, followed by an orange sweetness, before a final 10 percent ABV reprise that leaves your new and improved tongue feeling like a piece of Juicy Fruit you haven’t yet chewed. Weirdly enough, the taste profile of this reminded me a little of the Sidewinder but with extra alcohol backing it up like a bunch of older brothers at a skatepark.

4 RONSEALS


Final Thoughts

In a simpler time, this beer would be responsible for so much karaoke. Have fun with this one and always enjoy responsibly.

GABS TASTER - SHARED CAN - TALL BOY - FOUR PACK - BBQ’S SORTED

Read the original Crafty Pint review here.


Final Final Thoughts

All of these brews have something unique to offer for the hazy fans out there, and should all be commended for trying something new. If I had to pick one that surprised me the most, I would honestly say the Sidewinder blew me away and is definitely one of the best ultra-low beers that I’ve ever had (if not the best).

That they could fit so much flavour into a 1.1 percent ABV beer is one thing our descendants will be able to look back on and acknowledge we all weren’t barbarians, even if I still don’t have the clearest idea of what a hazy beer is.


You can find other entries in the BecauseWeCAN series here.

Brick Lane SOL- D
FB Propak B

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