Podcast Episode 293: Old Nation’s Travis Fritts Applies German Training and Precision to Hazy IPA

Michigan’s Old Nation didn’t set out to brew hazy IPA. Yet when they tackled the project, they did it with the analytical rigor one would expect from disciplined brewers trained to brew lagers.

Jamie Bogner Mar 5, 2023 - 7 min read

Podcast Episode 293: Old Nation’s Travis Fritts Applies German Training and Precision to Hazy IPA Primary Image

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Travis Fritts didn’t set out to brew hazy IPA. In fact, the initial plan for Old Nation was far more conventional—brew traditional American craft beer styles such as stout and pale ale, include some European standards such as altbier and weizenbock, make the beers good, slap some cool branding on them, and wait for the sales to come. But that was 2015, and beer drinkers had other ideas.

To survive, Old Nation starting looking at new and evolving styles, trying to understand—from a technical perspective—how they worked. The project ultimately led to M-43, a hazy IPA that has twice landed in the Craft Beer & Brewing Reader’s Choice Top 50. It is now a mainstay of Old Nation’s production and sees distribution to upwards of 20 states.

In this episode, Fritts recounts that process of reverse engineering as they set out to understand what makes hazy IPA tick, later touching on his approach to brewing helles. Along the way, he discusses:

  • why biotransformation isn’t all that important to the style
  • how the lipids in oats provide an important building block for haze stability
  • the contribution of London Ale III yeast to mouthfeel
  • dialing in the perfect water chemistry
  • nailing a pH of 4.4 for longer stability and to underscore fruit flavors in hops
  • building just the right “snap” from bitterness
  • giving each hazy beer small amounts of eccentricity through smaller, out-of-left-field hop additions
  • helles passing the “sauf test”

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].