Mitch Steele on Hazy Like a Fox
Mitch Steele on Hazy Like a Fox
When we started planning New Realm Brewing in 2016, the beer world was pretty different than it is today. We had planned on 4-5 core beers for a long time, and just assumed that our IPA would be our flagship, because IPAs were (and still are) the number one beer style in craft beer. But in the 2 ½ years it took us to get New Realm Brewing open, peoples tastes changed, and we recognized that we didn’t really have a great grasp yet on what beers would work well in Atlanta.
Our first beers were a mix of the types I had been doing at Stone Brewing, my last job: a West Coast IPA of 70 IBU, a Coffee Porter, an Imperial IPA and a Triple IPA, mixed in with some styles I never could brew at Stone, including a German Pilsner, an American Pale Ale, a Munich Dunkel, and an historical recipe Barleywine. My partners and I naturally assumed the West Coast IPA would become our best seller and boy, were we wrong. It was too bitter for Atlanta tastes, and very quickly after getting some feedback from our guests in our restaurant we realized we better start brewing some additional beers.
In the time I had spent planning New Realm – and not brewing – New England IPAs had become the hot style, and we were admittedly late to the game. The primary reasons were that we didn’t open until December of 2017, and that I needed to learn how to brew a good one! So for the first three months after we opened, I researched the brewing ingredients, processes and taste profiles that the best hazy IPA brewers were doing and started some pilot brewing.
It took us a few tries to get it right, and that beer became Hazy Like A Fox, which we released in the spring of 2018. It has become far and away our best selling beer, and now also our flagship.
It was a fun process to learn about the style. The most memorable moment for me was tasting the real effects of biotransformation after a mid-fermentation dry hopping. It was eye opening to see how the hop aromatics changed from floral and resiny to orange juice over the days following the dry hop.
I love learning about new brewing techniques and the biochemistry of brewing, and it was cool to see how this really worked. Developing the beer also presented some challenges, one of which is that we can’t recover the yeast from a beer that has had hops added mid-fermentation. Yeast is expensive, so we are still working on finding a better solution.
The hardest part was getting a stable haze in the beer, which as we progressed in the development of the beer I learned is a real challenge for a lot of larger craft brewers. At New Realm we tried all sorts of combinations of malted and raw wheat and oats, different yeast strains, and other quickly abandoned techniques that we had “heard” other brewers were using. But still, our first few batches cleared up.
In one of our pilot batches, when we nailed the hop combination we wanted, I enthusiastically ran samples up to my coworkers, and the first comment I got from our sales manager was “It’s not hazy enough.” My response: “Would you please taste the beer? We nailed the taste.”
We figured it out though, and Hazy Like A Fox became the first Hazy IPA we put into distribution. We sometimes work with a well known brewing consultant, and when he tasted the beer, he told us it would be our number one seller within a year. He was right. We landed on a combination of El Dorado, Azacca, and Idaho 7 hops that give a great blend of orange juice, mango, pineapple and lemon hop flavors, and used the same English ale strain that so many brewers are using. The grist includes flaked oats and barley and a heavy dose of wheat malt. The IBUs reached 45 and the juiciness and tropical character were a hit with our customers in both Georgia and Virginia.
Hazy Like a Fox is a great beer to pair with our menu at New Realm, working so well with our signature Mac and Cheese dish, our Beer Can Smoked Chicken, burgers, Buffalo wings, and pizza. Our chefs in each location also use the beer as an ingredient in some of their dishes and love that, with its lower IBU, it doesn’t overwhelm lighter dishes, yet has enough substance to allow it work well in more heavily flavored and spicy dishes, as well.
Flagship beers were chosen by the individual writers with no input from the #FlagshipFebruary partners or sponsor breweries.