viva la haze

On a vanilla Wednesday afternoon I was at my desk working (aka thinking) about the next beverage I should review and out of the blue my craft beer loving colleague Jamie appeared at my desk and immediately muttered the words: “I hate to say it mate but the haze craze is over!”

Brothers Beer Viva La Haze / Photo:  @_____dusty_____

I honestly did not know how to respond to that comment, my whole social life and my beloved @hazzy_hunter Instagram page relies on myself and the people around me going crazy for hazy so at this point I took it upon myself to uncover the truth and find out if the haze craze really is over and if it is, to uncover the next craze to hit the craft scene so I can secure a witty Instagram handle before they all gone! (Some ideas I had were @stout_stalker, @lager_lurker and @seltzer_sifter).

Rewind time to pre-2020, before the earth was flipped upside-down by the pandemic, when new beer releases were once a fortnight and the only hazy that you’d find at your local supermarket or pub was Tuatara Hazy IPA and that’s only if the craft gods were watching down on you.

But something happened when the pandemic hit, maybe Kiwi breweries saw this as an opportunity to convert New Zealand to a haze nation while we were stuck at home with nothing else to do but drink cold beer and hoard toilet paper. What I do know for certain is that my local New World supermarket stepped up their game with their craft beer selection which has almost tripled in size in the past 12 months with at least 20 different hazies on the shelf and some of the big dogs in the local craft beer scene such as Garage Project, Behemoth and Epic are now pumping out a new beer on an almost weekly basis with the majority of these releases being sweet juicy haze bombs which I’ll never complain about.

With all this haze now in our lives, it seems like every man and his Heineken-drinking mate is now ordering a hazy at the pub and trying to spit tasting notes like they have the palate of a cicerone.

I feel like the novelty of venturing out to your local taproom to sample a freshly kegged hazy is slowly vanishing and its almost turning into a chore to try and stay up to date with new releases and even more of a chore to try to differentiate one from another, so I do wonder if the haze craze really is over.

Personally I think not and I just think hazies are entering the mainstream market which I believe is all positive as there is more variety, cheaper options and I also have more friends who are open to bonding over a hazy at 16TUN (Auckland bar) as opposed to a room temp Heineken at Headquarters (Auckland bar). But my opinion isn’t enough to prove Jamie wrong so I tracked down two of New Zealand’s most respected brewers, the ones who are fueling the haze craze, to get their opinions on this pressing issue so I could provide Jamie and the beer drinkers of New Zealand the answers they are looking for.

The brewery pumping out a new hazy more often than I post to Instagram Is Behemoth so I had to get in touch with founder Andrew Childs for a quick chat while he was racing around, making sure their growing team were keeping the hazies hazy. Straight off the bat I asked Andrew- “Is the haze craze over?” and before I could get the whole sentence out of my mouth he shot back with one word: “No.”

This got me excited and intrigued so I dug deeper. Andrew strongly believes the haze craze has only just started and the number of breweries brewing hazies, some reluctantly, has increased substantially in the past 12 months. He also noted that they have only scratched the surface when it comes to flavour as there are almost unlimited combinations of hop varieties, levels of hopping, malts, oats, rolled oats, wheats, yeasts and different alcohol levels that brewers have at their disposal to work their wizardry on to create more and more juicy beverages for hazy hunters like myself to enjoy.

After chatting to Andrew, I was fairly certain that the haze craze is not over but I like to cross my t’s and dot my i’s so I got in touch with Kelly Ryan, the brewery manager at Boneface Brewing, the baddest brewery in Upper Hutt for his take on the haze craze.

Kelly is (in)famous for never brewing a hazy when he was at Fork & Brewer but yet he’s on the same side of the fence as Andrew and also believes the haze craze is not yet over. Though he was rather hesitant with his response as he is worried that the obsession with hazies will result in more monochrome beer universe with bars defaulting to only serving hazies with no room for other beer styles to shine through and tempt our palates. Personally, even as a lover of murky beverages,  this isn’t the beer universe I want to live in.

So, with this recently acquired intel I was ready to approach old mate Jamie and tell him that the haze craze is far from over and is here to stay, but what is there to achieve from that? Nothing apart from a small dose of self-satisfaction. I am the hazzy_hunter after all and I’m not here to prove people wrong, I am here to educate and aid craft beer lovers on their hunt for their next hazy beverage.

While I was in conversations with Andrew and Kelly, I also asked them both for their expert opinions on what they anticipate will be the next craft beer craze. Andrew was confident in saying that lagers are the next craze as a lot of people naturally begin their beer drinking journey with a refreshing lager.

Kelly believes that due to New Zealand’s strong RTD culture, seltzer – which tastes more like an RTD than a beer – will be the next staple beverage in chillers and bars. But as a beer purist, Kelly really hopes that the recent spike in interest around classic west coast IPAs and well-made pilsners will be the next craze.

But if you ask me what I think that the next craze is going to be, I would say craft beer lovers will be going absolutely bonkers over a juicy @hazzy_hunter collaboration beer! (Breweries get at me to make this dream a reality).