It's a good idea to visit Spindletap Brewing Co. every few months, if only to sample its most recent hazy or hoppy concoctions.

On a recent trip I tried some March releases: Too Green and Tiny Gypsies. The former was a little too resinous and aggressively dry-hopped (dry-hopped meaning hops were added not in the boil, which is customary, but after fermentation, making their impact stronger) for my tastes, but the latter—given a heavy dose of Citra, Wai-iti, Azacca, Vic Secret, and Motueka hops—sang with tropical and creamy notes and was colored like orange juice. It was the kind of balanced but potent New England-style IPA that I've come to appreciate from Spindletap.

Moreover, Tiny Gypsies is Spindletap's Daisy Chain beer, meaning it utilized a yeast strain passed down from another brewery. Having several of the Daisy Chain beers this year, which erred on the conservative side, I found Tiny Gypsies that much more impressive.

The problem with Too Green and Tiny Gypsies (especially Tiny Gypsies) is that you might not get to drink them ever again. They're one-offs not in the regular lineup, just there to show off some creative muscle, or at least some hop experimentation. Catch 'em if you can.

That's why I'm so glad that Houston Haze is around. Available year-round, both at the brewery and in grocery stores, Houston Haze is the little pink wonder that sets the bar for the city's NEIPA scene. Haze is heavy on the Citra hops (giving it that tropical character) plus Galaxy hops, which come from Australia and have insane amounts of rich essential oils, which are the key to flavor. Moreover, the beer is double-dry-hopped, meaning all those tropical, punchy, juicy flavors are even stronger because they're not lost in the boil.

But all that juice box flavor is tempered by the malty bones of its yeast, called London Ale III. That means it's not the kind of fruity explosion that haze chasers dream of experiencing; instead, Houston Haze is a restrained, almost sessionable NEIPA that acts as a fine introduction for style newcomers. After having a few of these, you can then show your friends the wonders of that one-off hazy beer that gets the people talking.

Rating: 7.6/10


Explanation of ratings: 9.5-10: as good as the best beer in America; 9-9.4: the best beer in Houston; 8-8.9: among the better beers in Houston; 7-7.9: really good beer; 6-6.9: try this beer at least once; 5-5.9: if you’re stuck, this won’t hurt; 3-4.9: among the lowest-quality beers in Houston; 0-2.9: as bad as the worst beer in America.

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