Firestone Walker Joins The Haze Craze With Mind Haze

Craft beers come in a wide variety of styles, and each style has managed to find its audience. With so many different styles to chose from though, IPA still remains the most popular style of craft beer by far and the New England style juicy/hazy IPA has taken the spotlight over the past couple of years, outselling all other sub-styles of IPA by a wide margin.

Although the juicy/hazy sub-style of IPA was only officially recognized by the Brewer’s Association in March of 2018, by the time the Great American Beer Festival rolled around in September, the “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA” dominated GABF entries.  Juicy/Hazy Pale Ales and IPAs made up 706 entries (Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale: 131. Juicy or Hazy IPA: 414. Juicy or Hazy Double IPA: 161.) compared with 331 entries for the more traditional American-Style IPA.

Many breweries have resisted jumping into what’s come to be known as the haze craze and, in fact, many breweries out there still refuse to make a hazy IPA. Others, like Firestone Walker Brewing Company, have simply been busy with other projects (like their experimental Luponic Distorion series and their Leo v. Ursus series). However, now they’re ready and the time has come. After a year of experimentation and development, say hello to Firestone Walker’s Mind Haze hazy IPA.

Here is the full press release from Firestone Walker Brewing Company:

Paso Robles, CA: After nearly a year of experimentation, Firestone Walker Brewing Company is set to unveil Mind Haze—a hazy IPA that sets the pace with a luscious texture, explosive tropical hoppiness and an unsurpassed shelf freshness for the style.

“We’re finally ready do a hazy IPA the Firestone way,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson.

Indeed, as the hazy movement caught fire, Brynildson and his team remained patient. They tinkered with the style, retooling and refining their beer with several R&D batches until they nailed what they were after.

The result is Mind Haze, Firestone Walker’s first-ever hazy IPA, and a fitting complement to the brewery’s robust IPA portfolio. Mind Haze launches in all Firestone Walker markets starting this week.

Déjà Vu
For Brynildson, the hazy IPA style doesn’t just hearken back to the East Coast, but all the way back to southeastern Germany and the Bavarian Hefeweizens of lore.

“I recently spent some time at Gutmann brewery in Titting, and they have this amazing beer called Weizenbock,” Brynildson said. “It’s this beautiful 7.2% ABV hazy beer with a creamy mouthfeel and a tropical-banana aroma that fits right in with the hazy IPAs of today—and yet they’ve been making it for more than 50 years.”

With that historical context in mind, Brynildson and his team embarked on the goal of creating a beer that would ring all of the bells of a new age hazy IPA while putting their own stamp on the style. Along the way, they wanted to create a beer that would stand shoulder to shoulder with Firestone Walker’s other IPAs in terms of quality and shelf stability.

“We’re not relying on residual yeasts or starches for turbidity,” Brynildson said. “The haziness and mouthfeel of Mind Haze are cultivated by more stable means, namely using 40 percent wheat and oats in the grain bill while nailing the timing and interplay of our hop additions.”

He added, “We are drawing from our past experience in making Hefeweizens, and then aiming to amplify the esters gained from a specially chosen yeast and an array of really fruity hops.”

All in The Mind
The name and imagery of Mind Haze are a nod to the marine mists that routinely envelop California’s Central Coast—and to the idea of a beer that messes with perceptions of what a hazy IPA can be.

Said Brynildson, “We are not claiming to reinvent the style—we want Mind Haze to offer the best of what people expect from a hazy IPA. That said, we’re going about it in a little different way, and I think that’s what gives Mind Haze its own unique signature.”

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Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and located on the coast of California. Firestone Walker’s main brewery in Paso Robles produces a diverse portfolio ranging from iconic pale ales to vintage barrel-aged beers. The Barrelworks facility in Buellton makes eccentric wild ales, while the Propagator pilot brewhouse in Venice specializes in R&D beers and limited local offerings. For more information: FirestoneBeer.com.

I tried a Mind Haze myself last night and right away I understood that this was a different kind of hazy IPA. Sure it has that haziness and those tropical, juicy notes you’re looking for, but the haze isn’t overdone and the hop character is a bit more crisp.  This is likely due to the fact that Brynildson modeled Mind Haze more after the old Weizenbock style from Germany – as noted above.  It came across to me as a great balance between the hazy juiciness of a East Coast/New England style IPA and a more traditional West Coast IPA. Mind Haze should start appearing on Seattle area craft store shelves and on tap by next week.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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