Brewers Association Acknowledges ‘Haze Craze’ with Creation New Style Categories

The Brewers Association has officially recognized hazy New England-style IPAs as a bona fide beer style.

In a press release, the trade group today announced changes to its “Beer Style Guidelines,” a reference for brewers and beer competition organizers that includes style descriptions and product specifications.

Among the new styles of beer featured in the 2018 guidebook are three cloudier offerings – “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA” — which over the years have become known as New England-style or Northeast IPAs.

In the early 2000s, The Alchemist in Vermont helped pioneer the hazy IPA revolution, a movement that more than a decade later would be popularized by Massachusetts’ Trillium Brewing and Tree House Brewing. Those breweries put an even hazier twist on a more traditional IPA, and created beers that are now known for having high hop aroma and low bitterness.

Despite the growing consumer interest for these en vogue brews, and surging sales throughout 2016 and 2017, the BA did not recognize the New England IPA as an official beer style last year.

But recent introductions by large national players such as Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, as well as hundreds of smaller regional companies, have brought more legitimacy to a slice of the craft beer category that had previously been marked by limited retail availability and long lines at brewery-only release events.

“I’m glad that the Brewers Association finally caught up with consumer demand and interest,” said Christian McMahan, the president of Massachusetts’ Wachusett Brewing, which makes a trio of hazy offerings. “If it took some of the new entries from some of the major craft players to get them to add it to the guidelines, clearly that is a great thing for everyone.”

Midway through 2017, Wachusett introduced Wally, a “Hazy, Juicy New England IPA,” to the broader retail marketplace. Within six months, it became the company’s No. 2 selling beer, racking up $3.2 million in retail sales and prompting two line extensions – Wally Juice, made with blood orange, and the session-strength Wally Jr.

In 2018, McMahan said he expects the entire Wally portfolio to comprise one-third of Wachusett’s sales.

Despite the growing interest in cloudier IPAs, a 2017 Nielsen survey, co-developed by Brewbound, found that fewer than 40 percent of drinkers were aware of the terms “hazy” and “juicy,” while upwards of 70 percent of those polled knew of the term “New England-style.”

Nevertheless, numerous large craft beer companies have since introduced products that prominently highlight the hazy and juicy descriptors. In January, New Belgium introduced “Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA.”

Boston Beer, meanwhile, opted to call its newest Samuel Adams offering “New England IPA” while simultaneously calling out its “hazy & juicy” qualities on the front of the can.

For its part, Sierra Nevada released “Hazy Little Thing IPA” at the end of last year, calling attention to the “unfiltered” and “unprocessed” attributes of the beer in a description on the company’s website.

A number of other craft breweries, including Stone Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing, Coronado Brewing, Epic Brewing and New Holland Brewing, among many others, have all released their own takes on a “hazy” or “juicy” IPA in recent months.

In addition to now recognizing hazy styles of beer, the BA also added a new “contemporary American-Style Pilsener” category that “addresses marketplace expansion and provides space for sessionable craft brew lager beers with higher hop aroma than found in pre-prohibition style beers” (think Firestone Walker Pivo Pils).

A press release with additional information is below.

Brewers Association Releases 2018 Beer Style Guidelines

Boulder, Colo • March 20, 2018 — The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers today released its Beer Style Guidelines for 2018. Reviewed and revised annually by the BA, these guidelines serve as a model resource for brewers, beer judges and competition organizers, and celebrate the great diversity of beer around the world.

Hundreds of revisions, edits, format changes and additions were made to this year’s guidelines, including updates to existing beer styles and the creation of new categories Updates of note include:

  • Juicy or Hazy Ale Styles: The addition of this trio of styles include representation of what may be referred to as New England IPAs or West Coast Hazy IPAs. The styles will be identified in the guidelines and Brewers Association competitions as “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA.”
  • Contemporary American-Style Pilsener: The addition of this new category addresses marketplace expansion and provides space for sessionable craft brew lager beers with higher hop aroma than found in pre-prohibition style beers.
  • Classic Australian-Style Pale Ale and Australian-Style Pale Ale: This split from one to two Australian-Style Pale Ale categories reflects tremendous diversity in the Australian craft beer market and authoritative input from the technical committee of the Independent Brewers Association. Classic Australian-Style Pale Ale can run slightly darker and typically exhibits relatively lower hop aroma. The Australian-Style Pale Ale category provides ample room for a range of somewhat paler, more hop aroma- and flavor-forward beers being produced today by hundreds of breweries in Australia.
  • Gose and Contemporary Gose: Predominantly technical tweaks were made to create more differentiation between these two categories.

The Brewers Association’s Beer Style Guidelines reflect, as much as possible, historical significance, authenticity or a high profile in the current commercial beer market. The addition of a style or the modification of an existing one is not undertaken lightly and is the product of research, analysis, consultation and consideration of market actualities, and may take place over a period of time. Another factor considered is that current commercial examples do not always fit well into the historical record, and instead represent a modern version of the style.

To help inform the creation of the new Juicy and Hazy categories, a wide variety of beers that were thought to represent or approach this style were sought and tasted.

“What we discovered and verified was that there was a wide range of alcohol content for what was being perceived in the public as just one style,” said Charlie Papazian, chief of the BA Beer Style Guidelines since 1979, and founder and past president, Brewers Association. “After evaluating appearance, aroma, bitterness, hop characters, mouthfeel and overall balance these beers gave a consistent impression that helped frame the Brewers Association’s inaugural guidelines for three styles of Juicy Hazy ales.”

“The Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines, led by Charlie Papazian for the past 30+ years, are a trusted resource for the brewing industry worldwide,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Brewers Association. “The guidelines have fostered a lexicon that has allowed the community of drinkers and brewers to talk about beer and celebrate beer across diverse cultures, around the world.”

The 2018 Beer Style Guidelines are available for download at BrewersAssociation.org.

Note: New styles will take effect for the 2018 Great American Beer Festival® competition. Suggestions for adding or updating a beer style guideline may be submitted online at BrewersAssociation.org.

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 4,000-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSM, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers Publications™ is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association and the free Brew Guru™ mobile app. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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