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The craft-beer landscape is rotating faster than a TikTok trend, and “hop fatigue” is a common byproduct.
Pop into any brewery, bar, or bottle shop, and a common narrative will surface: Where once the biggest and boldest IPAs reigned supreme, there’s now a softer, more approachable option in the mix. And people are seeking it out.
Behold, the hazy pale ale.
Like most consumer experiences, craft-beer lovers tend to explore the extremes at the margins — think Imperial IPAs, supercharged sours, or sultry stouts — before returning to something a bit more predictable.
“The arc of exploration is real,” says Brendan Carroll, owner of Bronxville’s longstanding and prolific bottle shop, Beer Noggin. “Our customers tend to start hoppy and heavy before settling into something more familiar and sustainable — highly aromatic, flavorful, and textured but with a lower ABV and cleaner finish.”
Even breweries that are known for the hoppiest, juiciest beers around can grapple with striking the right balance between audacious flavor, appearance, and mouthfeel, and what’s commonly referred to as “hop fatigue” — our palate’s natural tendency to want to balance the overly bitter, floral, piney flavor of hops with something like a crispy pilsner, malt-forward lager, or a lower-ABV hazy pale ale.
“In a sea of ephemeral beer styles, we’re seeing a palpable shift in taste from bold-flavored hoppy beers to more palatable and reliable pale ales,” says Carroll.
To parody an age-old adage, beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder. You just have to know where to look.