When I planned to visit Brooklyn for a weekend in May of 2019 I did not know Jeff Alworth (@Beervana) was also visiting the area. We both made a point of visiting Other Half Brewing Company. It sounds from his post like this was Jeff’s first visit and possibly first taste of Other Half beer. This was my third visit to Other Half and in the time since my previous visit I enjoyed their beer a few times at beer festivals. Typically when I see them at a beer festival, it greatly increases my interest because to me they are one of the top 10 breweries in the country.
Jeff asks an interesting question in his recent post titled “Brewers Aren’t Inspired by the Widget Model.” If this style is so successful, why is it not more widely adopted by breweries around the country? After all, Other Half charges between $16 and $22 for 4 cans of beer sold only from the tasting room. And on draft the beers are often $4 for a 4oz pour and $8 for an 8oz pour. People don’t question paying these prices because the quality is always top notch.
To answer Jeff’s question, I would say that the primary reason more breweries are not adopting the model of Other Half is that it is difficult to consistently brew high quality Hazy IPAs of the sort that Other Half, Tree House, Monkish, and others brew. I use these three as an example because each of them has beer that is exclusively sold from their tasting room and they sell through the beer fairly quickly. I have also personally tasted the beers to verify that yes they are consistently excellent. Tree House and Other Half have upped production to a point where you can more easily leave the brewery with cans without waiting in lines at Monkish, where the beers still sell out on the day of release every release.
I also would suggest that a lot of breweries are trying to cash in on the popularity of The Haze Craze and selling beers labeled as hazy IPAs while most of them miss the mark either occasionally or consistently. Of course this is all speculation on my part based on my observations in the beer market and what I consider a proper hazy IPA to be. Some would say that if the beer is cloudy it is a hazy IPA and that my definition is too strict. I respect that point of view but also respectfully disagree. The standard for hazy IPA exists and has been set by Other Half and Tree House. I have give up blind buying hazy IPAs from most breweries I can find in local liquor stores because I have gotten far too many that in one way or another don’t have the level of flavor or the creamy mouthfeel that I associate with the style.
There is a reason that people living in the areas around Tree House, Other Half, and Monkish drive to the breweries on a regular basis to buy a large amount of cans. There is a consistent quality these breweries have obtained that is not so common at other breweries. In the San Diego beer scene, many breweries are releasing hazy IPAs and some are usually hazy, but none are at the level of quality or consistency of Tree House, Other Half, or Monkish. Some have told me this has to do with the water that brewers have to work with in San Diego and that Modern Times brewery has become more consistent after they opened breweries in Portland Oregon and Downtown Los Angeles.
So far the one brewery I consistently buy Hazy IPAs from at my local liquor stores in San Diego is Seattle’s Fremont Brewing Company because they understand what Hazy IPA means and are committed to a certain level of quality for their beers. The majority of other breweries shipping their hazy IPAs into San Diego currently from throughout California have not achieved a consistent level of quality. A few breweries that have consistently produced excellent Hazy IPAs that I would love to see more of in San Diego are Fieldwork and Cellarmaker in San Francisco and Fort George up in Oregon.
Please feel free to correct me if you know more about this issue than I do. I may have some of this wrong. You may think this is much ado about nothing. My husband certainly does and is tired of hearing me complain about beers that aren’t properly hazy.