Why Haze is Great, But Ambers and Blondes are Important

Make no mistake, both the Haze Craze and more traditional IPAs are popular among craft beer drinkers, and numerous breweries pay at least dutiful homage to a growing demand and appreciation for Hazy IPAs and other hopped up, higher alcohol beers. 

Alewife Brewing in Queens, New York can’t ignore the beer lovers who appreciate the haze or IBUs and seek it out, but it also believes in releasing simpler beers that pay respect to the earlier days of the craft beer world.

For May and June 2023, Alewife Brewing has eight crafted new beers set for release to the New York City metro area and Pennsylvania, including Death to Ego (Hazy IPA), Keir’s Bier (Zwickelbier), Vibes (West Coast-style IPA), Zea Mays (Mexican Lager; pictured above), I Dream in Peaches (Fruited Sour IPA), Queens BLVD (Imperial IPA), Sunnyside Blonde (Blonde Ale), ČERNÀ (Dark Lager), and a collaboration beer Sporadic Sorcery (International Pale Ale) with Stillwater Artisanal.

Count co-owner Pat Donagher among the owners who say classic styles deserve a prominent spot on the craft beer marquee, arguing that craft beer drinkers have largely traditionally agreed with this mindset.

There’s nothing wrong with Ambers, Blondes and Brown Ales, Donagher said, noting that traditional, simpler styles make up roughly two-thirds of their lineup. He still believes simple approachable styles like these can help a brewery grow the greater audience for craft beer.

“I started in the business 20 years ago, and I would love to see some of those beers coming back — the beers that were made by older breweries that got us hooked back on craft beer back in the day,” Donagher said. “I guess the haze craze kind of took over, but to me ambers and blondes were stepping stones for a long time for people, and their palates haven’t changed that much.”

Having these beers available at your brewery and explaining them to someone new to craft beer can be beneficial, Donagher suggested.

“If they tried these beers, they wouldn’t need to jump right into sweet Hazies,” he noted. “They can be less diverse with style. What we try to do at Alewife is try to remember what got us into this in the first place and remind people that these were freaking great styles back then. One of our blonde ales is our best seller, as well as our Amber.”

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