Dude, Where's My Haze? Advice for Hazy IPAs

We get a lot of questions about how to promote hop haze in NEIPA/Hazies/Juicy IPAs and have written up some useful advice and information below to ensure success with these popular beer styles.

Credit where credit is due: we derived a lot of our hop haze knowledge from talks by the smart hop scientists working on this stuff, especially John Paul Maye at Hopsteiner. He gave a great presentation called "Hidden Secrets of the New England IPA".

What is in the Haze?

The first thing to understand: It's not yeast!!! Or at least, yeast is not always part of the haze, as shown by John Paul Maye at Hopsteiner. In our experience, really yeasty beers with a heavy dry hop tend to have strong astringency/"hop bite".

So, what is in the haze? It has been shown that the haze is a complex of proline-rich protein from grain and polyphenols from hops, with some non-polar hop acids in the mix. Examples of proline-rich proteins include gluten (gliadin) from wheat, as well as hordein from barley.

Proline-rich proteins from grain can bind to polyphenols from hops and create haze. In terms of hop components, non-polar hop compounds like xanthohumol, myrcene, and beta acids are all found in NEIPA haze. The ratio between them might impact haze, but this is still unclear. So, it stands to reason that a beer that has an abundance of the above compounds from grain and hops is also likely to have more haze.

However, sometimes things go awry: many hazy IPAs experience precipitation post-packaging, where the beer starts to appear chunky, or like a snowglobe. Unfortunately, it is still not fully clear how to promote a stable haze. There has not been much research shared despite the huge market for these beers. However, we've been talking with brewers about these beers for years and have assembled some best practices for you to read below.

Our advice for success with Hazy IPAs

  1. Protein is your friend. Include high-protein grains in your grain bill, especially raw/flaked wheat. Oats modify the body of the beer ("silkier" mouthfeel) but do not appear to improve haze.
  2. Watch your pH. A Higher mash pH (slightly higher than usual) may promote less protein precipitation in the mash bed and therefore more soluble protein in the wort. We've found it helpful to target a mash pH of ~5.4-5.5, and adjust wort pH as desired post-boil. This theoretically helps to keep more protein in solution in the wort.
  3. Choose the right hops. Use some hops high in myrcene or other non-polar constituents in the whirlpool/dry hop additions. We think this is why a lot of the big-name haze producers are using some of the "danker" hops like Columbus, Mosaic, and Simcoe. The folks at Barncat Artisan Ales tell us that Galaxy (if you can find it) works the best for stable haze.
  4. Keep your yeast happy. When yeast is stressed (stored too long, stored warm, inadequate oxygen, not enough nutrients), they break down more protein than they should as they scavenge for nitrogen. This can manifest itself in poor foam quality, or in "snowglobing" of hop haze.
  5. Keep things consistent between batches. Ensure a proper pitch rate, yeast viability, and oxygenation of the wort prior to repitching. Don't leave yeast in the fermentor for too long after final gravity, either.

Yeast Selection and Handling for Hazy IPAs

Many different yeasts can be used for this beer style. Many British, American, and Kveik strains will work great for this style. From our collection, we prefer Vermont Ale, Foggy London Ale, Cerberus, Hornindal Kveik, and Ebbegarden Kveik.

The jury is still out on whether some yeast promote haze more than others. But some yeasts do modify and accentuate hop aroma more than others. Check out our article on Biotransformation, which has some of the science behind this process.

As mentioned above, yeast can get stressed and secrete proteases. These proteases break down proteins in the beer and can cause a hazy beer to turn chunky or clear. Yeast which has received an optimal amount of nutrients, oxygen, and is pitched at the correct pitching rate will be much less prone to this phenomenon. As an added bonus, the beer will probably taste better if it's fermented with super healthy yeast.

Some well-known breweries purchase or propagate yeast fresh for every batch for this reason. Others have solved the problem by dialing in oxygenation, yeast viability, and pitch rates.

My hazy turned clear!! What happened?

Loss of haze stability tends to be a result of yeast nutrient stress. When the yeast cells don’t have enough nitrogen, they will secrete protease enzymes in order to obtain more nitrogen. A side effect of that is that the yeast can break down some of the haze-forming proteins in the beer resulting in unexpectedly clear beer or “snowglobing”.

Other nutrients like oxygen can also play a role. Breweries making hazy beers with the yeasts commonly used for these beers have found improved consistency by measuring wort dissolved oxygen or at the very least ensuring that oxygen flow rate and transfer line length are the same for all batches. We’ve seen a number of issues where a tank closer to the brewhouse gets a shorter cast-out hose, which also has the effect of reducing oxygen saturation (it takes time for the oxygen to get into the liquid).

Sometimes over/under pitching can also be a root cause of unexpectedly clear hazy beers. Underpitching can make the yeast work harder and over pitching can provide less nutrient for each individual cell, which might cause them to try to use protease enzymes to find new nitrogen. We have found overpitching and under-oxygenating to be a root cause of many "clear hazies".

Troubleshooting issues with Hazy IPAs

We are happy to help troubleshoot issues with Hazy IPAs and thankfully we have helped a number of breweries get to the bottom of inconsistencies, helping them to improve consistency and stress less about these (popular) beers. These are the questions that will help us assist you:

  1. What is the yeast generation? If repitching, do you know the viability and pitch rate of the yeast? How long is it stored between generations? How long is the beer on the yeast at the end of ferment?
  2. What is the recipe formulation of the beer? We're happy to take a look at a recipe and process and suggest tweaks.
  3. Is the wort supplemented with nutrients? How is oxygenation performed?

I hope that all this information is helpful to ensure you have great success with your hazy IPAs/NEIPAs/whatever folks are calling them a year from now. If there's anything you are still unsure about, make sure to contact us and we will assist you.

What is the best yeast for stable haze? 

Currently we recommend Foggy London Ale for the most stable haze. 

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