Right now, ‘murky beers’ (or should I say completely unfiltered beers) seem to be the in thing, with CloudWater’s Double IPA’s (pictured) leading the charge. But is this even ‘new’? Is ‘haze’ just a phase? And what does it bring to the table?
As a kid I grew up in a homebrew house, with my parents owning a homebrew store in the 80’s called ‘Brewer’s Delight‘ in my home town. There were times when I’d be helping my mother brew beer & the end result would be super murky, and sometimes the beer would be super clear (using one of the oldest clearing techniques in the world, normally used in wine making but working none-the-less; egg whites).
Sure, we get wheat beers & they’re hazy/murky/insert-adjective-here. It’s easy for people to look at this as an innovation stage in craft beer, but in my opinion it’s not. However, when a beer is hazed and it brings nothing to the flavour profile of the beer other than odious vegetel, nectroic yeast flavours it’s most certainly unwanted. And in the early days of ‘craft beer’ as we know it in Europe, this was the killswitch on craft taking off. People have become conditioned to ‘super clear beer’ thanks to the macro producers.
Then, craft innovated and started finding better ways to clear beers as much as possible beyond things like isenglass and filtration to deploying centrifuges to keep as much flavour in while clearing the beer without the harshness of traditional filtration. BrewDog in the UK epitomised this, and in Ireland people like Eight Degrees and Rye River deploy centrifuges to ensure maximum flavour and clarity.
There are some cynics who would see the new murk trend as a nice way for brewers to reduce waste from a brew to the bottle to maximise returns on brewing costs, while adopting the whole idea of being on trend. Then, there are those who just see the hype & adoration CloudWater are getting for their Double IPA’s & want part of that pie as shelf-space is at an all-time critical mass as Ireland & the UK has a massive range of craft beers available that’s bigger than any time in modern history.
It’s insanely easy to be cynical around craft beer. It’s also really easy to slap a ‘hipster tag’ around with it. But, coming back to brass tacks, the beauty of craft beer is that it exposes people to real choice. Want a clear inoffensive IPA? You got it. Want a murky, dank, hop wielding tastebud murderer with enough IBU’s to lay waste to a small section of the galaxy? You got it.
Sure, we consume food with our eyes. And some would say we ‘drink with our eyes’. If you’re beer diversity, chances are you can appreciate full sensory experience & therefore the idea of a murk-monster isn’t a turn-off. However, if you’re a Carling-swiller you may find yourself asking if someone relieved themselves in the pint (oh the fucklng irony of that!).
Brewers like any business will rightly follow consumption trends to help pay the bills, pay their staff & to turn a profit to reinvest into growing the business. And you should never fault them for it. If the market right now is after a pint of SwampThing or two, who is anyone to question it?
CREDIT: IMAGE USED OWNED BY CLOUDWATER BREWING.