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Belt’s Beer Garden: It’s a Toss Up

FiftyFifty’s West Coast Haze - a unique twist on the hazy beer craze

FiftyFifty Brewing Co. (or 5050) is located right by Lake Tahoe in the small town of Truckee, California. If you’re on I-80 near the California/Nevada border, you’ll pass right by them and might not even know it.

But it’s a place you need to stop at - especially if you like stouts. The folks at FiftyFifty are known for their Eclipse, a series of stouts that are released every year - using their Totality stout base and then aging it in different barrels and filling them with different adjuncts - that are worth every penny. But they don’t just focus on the dark beers. Their Tahoe Pils just won gold at this year’s US Beer Open and their IPAs are supposed to be damn good too.

I have never actually had an IPA from them so when I went to Reno a few weeks ago, I decided to stop in and get myself a few brews on the way.

Today I have their West Coast Haze, an IPA that is a unique twist on the typical New England-style brew. This IPA was packed with a five hop combo of Amarillo, Azacca, Calypso, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops. Each can comes complete with 6.25% ABV and a four-pack of 16-ounce cans will run you about $18.

It poured a bright, but murky, golden straw color with about two fingers of hefty, eggshell white head building up. The dense foam fizzled down some but left a full quarter inch defense barrier to the beer below that had the similar flowy but thick appearance that cappuccino foam does.

The aroma was absolutely beautiful. It was juicy and tropical, floral yet grainy, balanced and sweet. Peach was easily identifiable as the leading characteristic but there were also big notes of flaked grains (like wheat and oats), orange and lemon, and a bit of mango. Between the grist and fruits, it was slightly reminiscent of Fruity Pebbles but with more going on.

Each sip begins with a pillowy soft feeling that expands over your entire mouth while a fizzle of carbonation shoots straight down your tongue. The flavors begin to appear after the zip of bubbles clears. And up first is a soft and subtle peach ring flavor that is complemented with some floral sweetness.

That is followed by some light mango, orange and lemon qualities that quickly disappear. In fact, all the flavors seem to disappear quite fast with nothing packing a real punch or lasting for more than a few moments.

Towards the end, the grains add some of that cereal-like flaked wheat and oat notes which are joined by a bit of hoppy bitterness that lingers on for a few moments.

While the mouthfeel was fluffy and soft, the beer drinks quite light and watery. It’s a weird blend of West Coast crushability and New England haze. I do like the flavors and how easy this beer is to drink but it is lacking something. All the flavors seem a bit too light and a bit too soft…but when they’re there, they’re great. It’s quite an interesting beer.

Worth getting a four-pack? Absolutely
Something to keep stocked in your fridge at all times? Probably not.

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