We were amateurs when we made Half-Life in 2012. Before HL, we were mostly still recreating what our beer heroes already brewed. Their recipes were our templates that we then tried to improve and make our own. No shame in admitting that. It is all part of the creative process when you’re still learning.
The exercise of appropriating and then improving made us realize that something was missing. Something wasn’t being made at that time. And it was an IPA that we could drink all day.
When we developed Half-Life, we wanted to reduce the bitterness but maintain the flavor and aroma of the hops. Something that wasn’t being done at the time. To keep the malt and bitterness in balance, we reduced the malt. But it ended up having a kind of watery mouthfeel, so that’s when we added the wheat. Wheat beer is hazy because of the proteins in the wheat. That is also what gives it the soft mouthfeel. Hazy beers today typically use oats for this effect.
Half-Life was born, but it didn’t fit into a BJCP style, which made it surprisingly hard to sell when we commercially launched in 2016. We tried to call it a dry hopped wheat at the launch. Bad idea. That’s one way to scare off both your wheat drinkers and IPA fans. And bar owners and managers couldn’t figure out which tap to put it on. Was it an IPA or was it a wheat?
Several months after releasing it, the NE IPA style started to pop up in forums. There weren’t rules yet or even an official style, so we rebranded it NE IPA. And it worked. I think it was the first in Texas. Within a month, HL became our best seller, and we couldn’t maintain inventory.
While it definitely is not a true-to-style Hazy IPA today, the beer that is pure happenstance still nicely fits the category and our need for an all-day IPA.