Given the era in which we live right now, I suspect most eyes will be drawn to the words "Hazy IPA" on the label of Stone & Wood's tenth Counter Culture release. In such cases, drinkers attuned to brekkie juice-like DIPAs might be a little surprised by the low level of opacity in The Holy Grail. In my case, I have to admit its appearance in the glass had me thinking of saisons; with hindsight, that could be down to the label directing my subconscious towards the Olde Worlde stylings of Belgium (rarely a bad thing).
That said, it then occurred to me that the prominent, sweet-yet-dry toasted malt (plus extras) character wouldn’t be out of place at the heart of a rich Belgian ale. In fact, for all that a hazy IPA, by its nature, should be centred around its hops (here, Sabro, Galaxy, Citra and HBC 475 combine in a creamy coconut, sweetly tropical, slightly spicy nature) it’s that malt character – one that's found swirling amid vanilla, honey and coconut like baklava blended into a Greek yoghurt – which pulls everything together.
Chasers of 40grams per litre hopping rates in their hazies will be disappointed; those interested in exploring the space where the hype sectors of hazy ipa and dessert beer intersect will, however, find much to enjoy.
PS Speaking of hindsight, in the cold light of the morning after, it would appear this focus on the malty side of the beer was the whole point: The Holy Grain. Duh...