Hazy IPAs, also known as New England IPAs, have become some of the most popular craft beers over the past several years. With the recent release of our very own hazy double IPA, Double Mind Haze, we sat down with Propagator R&D brewing manager, Sam Tierney, to learn more about the beer style.

The popularity of hazy IPAs isn’t difficult to decipher: lower bitterness and fruitier, juicier hop flavors and aromas have a broad appeal that makes them more accessible to most beer drinkers compared to the dryer, higher bitterness West Coast IPAs that previously dominated the market (though you still can’t deny the refreshing bitterness of a crisp and clear WCIPA).

We started working on our own version of the style in early 2018, and the resulting beer was Mind Haze, which quickly became one of our most popular beers. Mind Haze was a huge accomplishment for our brewing team: a hazy IPA that delivered the juicy hop flavor fans were looking for while living up to the consistency and quality standards that we have made our reputation on over the years.

After a couple more years of experimental batches at our Propagator pilot brewhouse in Venice, we felt it was time to release a double version of the style and we got to work on Double Mind Haze.

Double IPAs are very similar to standard IPAs, but with everything turned up a few notches: more malt, more hops, and more alcohol. They are sipping beers meant to showcase the most intense hop expressions that brewers are capable of packing into the glass.

Hazy double IPAs are unique in that they allow us to turn up the already saturated juicy profile of a hazy IPA into pure hoppy bliss. In contrast to West Coast double IPAs, the bitterness is still moderate, letting the juiciness of the hop flavor take center stage.

When crafting Mind Haze, we brought in a unique yeast strain that produces flavors that complement the tropical, citrus and stone fruit notes from the hops we use. As we’ve gotten to know this strain over the past few years, we grew to love the flavors you an get from it in a higher alcohol beer. It has a great mango-pineapple ester note that really shines at higher gravities and goes perfectly with some of our favorite hop varieties. In some ways, a hazy double IPA is really the best way to showcase the “hazy” profile as you get more of the unique yeast/hop synergy that makes the style so compelling.

When it came to hop selection, we decided to keep some of the hops that give Mind Haze its signature profile, while mixing in a few new varieties to bring some unique new aspects of differentiation. Azacca, Mosaic, Idaho 7 and Cashmere return for big hits of tropical, stone, and citrus fruits, and are joined by Idaho Gem, Motueka, Sabro, and Strata, which bring more layers of fruit along with unique floral, coconut, and minty notes as well. We also increased the total dry hop amount on top of the already large Mind Haze dry hop, for even more saturated juicy flavor.

For malts, a base of North American 2-row pale malt comes together with malted and torrified wheat, as well as malted and caramelized oats for a silky texture and dense haze. While very similar in design to Mind Haze, the malt bill is tweaked to maintain balance at the higher alcohol level from the increased overall gravity. The wheat and oats provide higher amounts of proteins that bond to hop compounds to produce the signature haze that the style is know for. They also help bond non-polar aromatic hop compounds, which creates the intense juicy fruit profile and mouthfeel that sets hazy IPAs apart.

Double Mind haze brings all of these elements together to form a finished product that displays the intense hop character that is the calling card of the hazy double IPA style, while maintaining the balance, elegance, and drinkability that Firestone Walker beers are known for.

Mind Haze and Double Mind Haze are available wherever Firestone beers are sold. Use the Beer Finder to stock up on these hazy sensations.