One of the most respected and storied craft breweries in the biz can remain nimble, and Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing IPA is proof: It offers plenty of bright fruit flavors like pineapple, tangerine, orange, and grapefruit while providing a balanced bitterness on the finish. Fans of hazy IPAs and newcomers to the style alike will both find something to enjoy.
Style New England-style IPA
Company Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Brewery Location Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina
MSRP $10 per 6-pack
A bright, juicy IPA that encapsulates the modern approach to the style
Affordably priced and widely available
An updated offering from one of the pioneers of the craft beer industry
A versatile beer for food pairings
Lacks the smoother finish some might expect from a hazy IPA
Some may find floral flavors in the beer soapy or offensively aromatic.
Purists may bemoan changes from the traditional approach to the style.
Color: As advertised, this beer pours an opaque, hazy golden yellow-orange in the glass, producing a thick head of foam that lingers and laces the side of the glass between sips.
Nose: The most prominent aromas come forth as orange peel, charred pineapple, and a mix of tropical fruit. A floral hoppiness gives the beer a fresher impression than most widely available IPAs.
Palate: Bright tropical fruit flavors carry over from the aroma onto the palate, with fresh tangerine, Meyer lemon, pineapple-flavored Lifesavers candy, and cantaloupe preceding mildly dank hop notes. It remains smooth and medium-bodied on the tongue with soft, fine carbonation.
Finish: As soon as you swallow the beer, a lingering mild hop bitterness appears at the back of the tongue. Its refreshingly dry finish enhances its balanced flavor profile.
Whether you consult a die-hard craft beer purist or a budding novice, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a negative opinion of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Since opening its doors in 1980 with $50,000 in loans from friends and families, the small California upstart has become an indispensable household name in the industry, thanks to its early and sustained success with the iconic hoppy pale ale that soon developed into a broad portfolio of impressive brews. Today, after expanding from the West Coast with a production facility in North Carolina, the third-largest craft brewery in the U.S. remains as influential and revered as ever.
Despite its status as a storied and pioneering brewery, Sierra Nevada has stayed relatively nimble, and its Hazy Little Thing IPA serves as a perfect example of this agility. Compared to the West Coast-style, resinous, and clear pale ales and IPAs that dominated the market until very recently, this 2018 release is hazy and fruity, showcasing the company’s ability to adapt to the New England-style IPA trend. For the scale at which it’s produced, it’s an impressively bright and refreshing brew that exemplifies—and in some cases surpasses—other versions of the same style currently flooding taprooms from coast to coast.
Hazy Little Thing is also very affordable compared to its one-off craft competitors without sacrificing much in the way of flavor or complexity, an impressive feat when you consider it’s widely available in practically every market and craft beer shop across the U.S.
Flavor-wise, the beer has the potential to serve as a “gateway IPA” for anyone who may have found previous popular takes on the style to be too resinous, piney, and bitter. It’s a little too high in ABV to be considered a session beer, but its juicy flavor profile makes it more easy-drinking than the dank, heavy-hitting IPAs of yore. And while its complex aromatics and flavor profile make it a fantastic partner for everything from braised meats to Neopolitan pizza, the beer is also a solid option if you’re looking for an everyday IPA you can crack just because.
Hazy beer is relatively new to the IPA world: As you might’ve guessed, the filtration step is entirely skipped over before packaging, but the style also involves a few extra steps. In the case of Hazy Little Thing, Sierra Nevada uses wheat in the malt bill and adds lupulin hop dust for extra flavor.