Piss and Vinegar: How to Choose a Hazy IPA

This is “Piss and Vinegar,” a special opinion column by blogger Bill Night. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The New School:

Hazy IPAs.  They’re tasty, juicy, and nutritious.  Nevertheless, ten or twenty years from now I suspect that we’ll look back at them as the bell-bottom jeans or pet rocks of 2018.  The nation was in an uproar, we needed something outrageous to indulge in, so we drank these sludgy beers that no one from any era before or since would find attractive.

Still, there’s no way around this craze we have to go through.  We might as well enjoy the best the style has to offer, right?  In that spirit, I want to offer you a simple rule of thumb for choosing a Hazy IPA.  Actually, the title is a little misleading; this rule tells you how not to choose a Hazy IPA.  Are you ready?

Never drink a Hazy IPA whose name is a pun on the word “haze”.

Simple, right?  No sense tattooing it inside your eyelid, in case a different beer fad supplants hazies in 2019.  But it can help narrow the field next time you’re confronted with a taplist that’s half hazy.

It sounds capricious, but I can tell you that a similar rule I have about Thai restaurants has held up over many years, and it has saved me from many a bad meal.  If a Thai restaurant has a pun on the word “Thai” in the name, stay away.  The pun tells you there is nothing else to recommend the place–the only thing going for it is the name.

I suspect a similar dynamic is at work with Hazy IPAs.  Everyone has to get on the bandwagon,whether they want to or not.  So as the brewers brainstorm a way to produce something cloudy enough to appease the masses, one of the first orders of business is choosing a name that will show just how hazy and clever the beer is.  Who can blame them?  With so many similar beers launched at once, it’s sort of an arms race for attention.  If you can come up with a real groaner, you might stand out on that hoppy, fuzzy taplist.

There will be exceptions of course–are you thinking of one now?–but with so many options out there, don’t take a chance on a beer where more thought went into the name than the recipe.


For the last several years Bill Night has been writing a Portland-centric beer blog called It’s Pub Night, named after the ritual weekly phone call or email rounding up friends for a night out: “Hey, it’s pub night!”. Despite his advanced age, he is lending a hand to the New School with a monthly rant called “Piss and Vinegar”. The name of the column comes from the British colloquial phrase “taking the piss” — making fun — and the sour character of Bill’s rants. He will continue to maintain It’s Pub Night, and he invites you to take a look at some of the fun things over there, like the Beer Review Generator, the Portland Beer Price Index, and the Six-Pack Equivalent Calculator.

Bill Night
Bill Night


  • Hume Looper
    Hume Looper
    Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:45 PM

    In the spirit of Piss and Vinegar:
    Yes, “tasty, juicy, nutritious”…. just like a fruit smoothie… and I do enjoy fruit smoothies from time to time but it’s not what I have in mind when I think of having a beer. Not telling people what to drink; everyone should drink what they enjoy the most. I just want to encourage others, who share my taste in beer, to swim against the silty tide and not be shy about speaking up for yourself.

    Cheers to all (including NE IPA lovers)

    • Dave
      Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:35 PM

      “we drank these sludgy beers that no one from any era before or since would find attractive”

      Cheers to a dude holding a Hoegaarden in his profile pic for having the courage to write that.