Sitting here in 2020, in the midst of a still-unfolding pandemic, multiple summers into the era of hard seltzer, it feels like itâ€™s been considerably more than two years since we conducted a ridiculously largeÂ blind tasting of 324 IPAsÂ atÂ Paste.
If you had asked me to cite some of my favorite beer styles in advance of that particular blind tasting, I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a shred of doubt that one of my first responses would have been modern, hazy IPA, or â€œNE-IPAâ€ 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 Alchemistâ€™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 styleâ€™s easygoing disposition, fruit-forward flavors, lack of bitterness and continued evolution of the â€œjuicyâ€ 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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