Before I get started on this week’s review, I propose turning this one into a drinking game. Every time I say the word hazy you take a drink.
It is safe to say that the merits of the hazy IPA have been debated ad nauseum with many people remaining on either side. Now with most of the larger breweries hoping on the bandwagon, the NEIPA is here to stay regardless of what you may think of the style. Personally, I was a fan of Heady Topper back in the day and am still a fan of the style today. As far as I’m concerned, having countless choices is much more favorable to me than having to pay a fortune to have four-packs shipped from Vermont.
With that being said, not all hazies are created equal. There is a huge difference between a fresh Monkish, Tree House or Trillium four-pack and the random over-hyped haze that every mediocre corner brewery is pumping out these days. The problem with the top of the mountain NEIPA cans is that I am never going to wait in line or pay crazy secondary market prices so I tend to settle for what is a little more accessible. The big regional breweries are now stepping up and releasing there take on the style and they are now more accessible than ever.
Firestone Walker is the latest Southern California brewery to release an IPA targeting the “hazy” or “juicy” market. Mind Haze is a 6.2 percent ABV hazy IPA with a malt bill consisting of 2-row, Munich, wheat and oats and an extensive hop profile that starts with Cashmere and Mandarina on the hot side and a dry hop consisting of Azacca, cashmere, El Dorado, Idaho 7 and Mosaic. I picked up a six-pack for under $10 and since I am a longtime self-admitted fanboy for Firestone Walker I am excited to try it.
The can pours hazy and opaque but nut murky. The color reminds me of a $20 bottomless mimosa brunch where they are too heavy handed on the orange juice—not the Champagne-colored mimosa my wife pours at home—with one finger of frothy white head.
I would never be able to pick out any individual hop in the aroma but together they smell like sweet tropical fruit candy. Pineapple is the first thing that comes to mind followed by mango, peach and citrus. I also get the faintest hint of a white bread maltiness that is just enough to let me know I am not about to drink straight fruit juice.
The mouthfeel is slightly creamy but not the nectar consistency of some of the heavier hazy beers with just enough carbonation to tingle the taste buds as it goes down but not enough change the mouthfeel. The beer has pretty low IBUs but there is still a touch of bitterness that comes in at the end. In many big new-school IPAs I tend to get a citrus pith character that when too heavy it has a drying bitter effect. This beer has just a touch of it but not to the point where it detracts from the experience.