See-through clarity has been considered a positive attribute in most beer styles ever since the 19th century, when transparent glassware replaced metal and ceramic tankards.
But the craft beer movement has turned this on its head. Originating in northeastern USA, the New England India Pale Ale (NEIPA) genre has brewers actively pursuing haziness.
The solids in these beers act as a vehicle for the juicy, predominantly tropical fruit characters resulting from outrageous additions of new world hops.
Also labelled as hazy or East Coast IPAs, this broad church of beers continues to splinter into sub-genres such as lower ABV NEPAs and milkshake IPAs.
Recipe for success
As the name would suggest, beers of the latter extreme are completely turbid, with the addition of lactose (milk sugar) making for a richer, creamier outcome.
Brisbane's Felons Brewing Co is among a growing number of brewers to have experimented with this style, creating a 4.4 per cent ABV Hazy Pale in collaboration with Brewsvegas, the annual Brisbane beer week scheduled for March 12-22 this year.
Felons head brewer Tom Champion says astringency – that warm, dry feeling you can get from the tannins present in both wine grapes and hops – is the enemy of brewers joining the 'haze craze'.
"When you have that level of suspended solids and that level of hopping, you can very easily have what I call 'hop burn'," he says.
"You're expecting a beer that is juicy, sweet and silky, with nice fruity lush aromas, but you can very easily drift into territory where it feels uncomfortably warm on the back palate."
Cloudy with a chance of beer
Champion says Felons turned to more protein-rich grains, oats and wheat, in its pursuit of lasting cloudiness.
"We've done a hazy IPA in the past, but to be honest, we haven't hit the level of haze that we wanted," he says.
"You want it opaque these days, that's what people are really going for. We hit the mark visually on this one, which we're pretty proud of."
Sydney's Philter Brewing released its first hazy creation last year, dubbed simply 'Haze'.
"We were probably two years out from when 'hazies' first hit our shores," says head brewer and co-founder, Samara Fuss.
"I've never been one to really jump on a bandwagon, and I kind of wanted to ride it out and see where the style really went."
Breakfast of champions
Fuss says her intention with Philter Haze was to create a beer somewhat akin to "alcoholic brekkie juice" in style.
"I'm not a massive fan of those milkshake-looking ones," she says.
"I still wanted to have it quite hazy, but I wanted to keep it clean as well. I wanted each element of it to 'pop' as it should, without being overshadowed by that real 'fat' load on the palate."
Freshness is key when drinking beers of this style. As such, brewers often release them in small batches that disappear from the market quite quickly, so move fast!
Click the gallery above for a selection of some of the best hazies to look out for in 2020.
James Atkinson is creator of the Drinks Adventures podcast and a previous editor of Australian Brews News and drinks industry publication TheShout. A Certified Cicerone® and 2017 winner of the Australian International Beer Awards media prize, James regularly contributes to other publications including Halliday, Good Food, QantasLink Spirit and more.