Sitting here in 2020, in the midst of a still-unfolding pandemic, multiple summers into the era of hard seltzer, it feels like it’s been considerably more than two years since we conducted a ridiculously large blind tasting of 324 IPAs at Paste.
If you had asked me to cite some of my favorite beer styles in advance of that particular blind tasting, I don’t think there’s a shred of doubt that one of my first responses would have been modern, hazy IPA, or “NE-IPA” as we were more commonly calling it at the time. I had fallen in love with the style as much as anyone in the mid-2010s, watching the influence of pioneers like The Alchemist’s Heady Topper radiate across the country, gaining footholds on the East Coast first, before gradually being adopted everywhere. It was hard not to be charmed by the style’s easygoing disposition, fruit-forward flavors, lack of bitterness and continued evolution of the “juicy” flavor profile that had already been sought after in clear India pale ales of the period. It seemed like a clear reflection of changing consumer tastes, and I was excited to try new hazy IPAs from nearly every brewery I visited.
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