Deschutes Brewery’s Fresh Haze IPA once again tops the podium for Best Hazy. Since the category is in its second year, the beer is undefeated. A hazy, in beer parlance, is specifically an India Pale Ale that is neither clear nor bitter—the hallmarks of the once-popular West Coast IPA. In 2014 you could not find an example of what was originally dubbed a New England IPA in Oregon. By 2017 it was standard for brewery taprooms to offer three different NEIPAs built with haze-producing proteins from grains like flaked oats and unmalted wheat.
In 2018, building on Fresh Squeezed IPA’s wild success, Deschutes introduced Fresh Haze. Fresh Squeezed had pivoted from high-IBU (International Bitterness Units) IPAs that see a ton of hops used early in the boiling process that create bitterness, to late-addition hops added at the end the boil (then generously dry-hopped), which leads to characteristic juicy flavors and a softer body. Fresh Haze is Deschutes’s second-best-selling beer after Fresh Squeezed. The “haze craze” shows no sign of letting up, as Fresh Haze has tough competition in Bend. But what distinguishes it is that instead of chasing tropical or berry juice notes that tend to rely on hops grown in the Southern Hemisphere, Fresh Haze employs PNW all-star Amarillo plus Mandarina Bavaria (actually from Bavaria) hops that throw citrus flavors. It’s also far less hazy (cloudy) than most beers in the same vein, so it’s got the style’s distinctive pillowy mouthfeel and sweetness, is less opaque, and is embedded in West Coasters’ affinity for citrus-forward flavors. Fresh Haze is a tangerine bomb!
“We wanted to avoid ‘yellow milk,’” says Deschutes’ Brewmaster Scott Birdwell. “It’s not visually appealing to us to be so thick. Our take was it needs to be hazy but have an attractive orange color and orange-like flavor.”
FIRST PLACE: Deschutes Brewery - Fresh Haze IPA