Tyler Cox, head brewer at Fire Maker Brewing Co., was in the eye of the storm when the hurricane of New England IPAs began sweeping through the U.S. around 2016.
Cox remembers brewing his first of the style while working at a brewery in Connecticut. He described the process as “a learning experience.”
“Everyone had their own idea of what it was supposed to be,” he said. “Over the years, the hazy IPA has transitioned. It generally had to be hazy by nature, and it’s really how you use the hops. The whole idea is big, juicy, aromatic hops flavor with less emphasis on bitterness. You want to go more toward sweetness.”
Hazed and Blazed
Brewery: Fire Maker Brewing Co.
Alcohol by volume: 7.2%
Style: New England-style hazy IPA
Bottom line: Pleasantly pillowy and citrusy
At Fire Maker, which opened in Atlanta off Chattahoochee Avenue in March 2020, Cox concocted a New England-style IPA that embraces all of the lovely aspects of the style.
Hazed and Blazed offers a sweetness without being overbearing, all the while maintaining a soft, pillowy mouthfeel.
Cox said he brewed the beer with three different hop varieties including Lemondrop (yes, this is actually a type of hops), El Dorado and Mosaic.
The Lemondrop hops impart notes of Lemon Drops candy — which comes as no surprise — and the other two help accentuate the sweetness.
Cox said he felt inspired to make a beer that reminded him of the desserts he used to enjoy before watching his waistline
“I love sweets and ice cream, but as I’ve gotten older, I don’t eat them anymore,” Cox said. “I wanted to create a beer that played on my sweet tooth. I used to love a lemon drizzle on cakes.”
As someone who’s been drawing dragons since I could hold a pencil, I couldn’t resist picking up a pack of Hazed and Blazed, which fits into the brewery’s fire-breather theme.
Although I dove into my first sip with a little bias, I found myself pleasantly surprised. A rush of lemons and tangerine notes engulfed my tastebuds, accompanied by a soft body.
I’ve had several negative experiences with hazy IPAs, usually involving skunky flavor, teeth-rotting sweetness or uncomfortable bouts of bloatedness. Thankfully, Hazed and Blazed flew above the graveyard of my disastrous New England IPA encounters and conjured a beautiful balance of bitterness, sweetness and citrus flavors.
Despite coming in at 7.2% alcohol by volume, this beer is relatively easy drinking. It has become my go-to for online game nights, and one I plan to invite into my fridge regularly.
Hall residents can pick up a pack of Hazed and Blazed at Downtown Drafts on the square. If you find yourself in the Atlanta area, pop by Fire Maker, located at 975 Chattahoochee Ave. NW. For more information about the brewery, visit firemakerbeer.com.