This Hazy IPA Will Have You Seeing Dots

by Bill McCool on 08/19/2019 | 4 Minute Read

While there’s no denying this has been the summer of hard seltzer and the White Claw Apocalypse, some of us continue to turn our attention to Hazy IPAs (and please, no HASHTAG HAZEBRO, please). 

These New England-style IPAs are well known for their hazy, unfiltered appearance and excessive-to-the-point-of-ludicrous juiciness. We don’t know if Lizzo turns to this dank, hazed-out juice, but it wouldn’t come as a great shock. Fair State Co-op and Modern Times collaborated on this hazy IPA back in 2018, but they re-released it into the wild earlier this year, and it’s a welcome addition to anyone’s local bottle shop with its eye-popping design.

To learn more about one of our favorite craft beer designs, we turned to Little creative director and VP Mike Schacherer and Fair State Brewing’s co-founder Niko Tonks to hear more about this tasty brew that has us seeing, well, dots.

 

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Mike Schacherer: Spirit Foul is an unfiltered (or hazy) IPA, a style that has gained in popularity recently due to its amazing aromas, juicy flavor, soft mouthfeel and an incredible glowing opacity in the glass. Some have called it the first beer style made popular by Instagram.

 

Niko Tonks: Spirit Foul is, like many hazy IPAs, very soft, low bitterness, and emphasizes 'juicy' and tropical flavors. On its best days, I get flavors and aromas reminiscent of the Dole Pineapple-Orange-Banana juice I remember from childhood. The unique part of Spirit Foul is that we built it around a relatively new and exciting hop variety from Oregon called Strata. 

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We started using Strata some years ago when it was an experimental hop variety, and have always been pleasantly surprised by the intense tropical notes we get from it.

Mike: Like any of our work with Fair State, it begins with a conversation about the beer, hearing what they're excited about, and often includes getting more information about what drove the name (because brewers love coming up with names almost as much as they love brewing beer). 

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The name "Spirit Foul" came from a couple of inputs. First of all, two of the three Fair State founders went to school at Carleton College in Minnesota, an institution which has an almost unhealthy love for ultimate frisbee. In that sport, a "spirit foul" is an infraction that breaks from the spirit of the game, if not the actual rulebook. And that represented the connection to the beer. Normally, an IPA is known as a translucent beer, and its clarity is one of the hallmarks of the style. Hazy IPAs throw that convention out and go a totally opposite way; an infraction of the spirit of IPAs. 

With that information, I launched into the design, trying to create something that visually linked to frisbees, as well as having a nod to the aesthetic of Modern Times, who does some amazing packaging full of colorful patterns and great typography. It was a high bar. 

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I wish I could say start to finish was harder than it was, but that can came together in a couple of hours. Sometimes, when you hit on something, you just know it, and there's no reason to go any further. I texted a screenshot to Niko (my main collaborator on the packaging), and he loved it as much as I did.

 

Mike: With the explosion of craft beer in recent years, our biggest goal is always getting noticed. There is so much good stuff out there, and the retail area devoted to craft beer keeps growing and growing. If we don't do packaging that rises above the clutter to get noticed and get purchased, it doesn't matter how good the beer inside the can is.

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Mike: We’ve designed the Fair State Co-op brand from the very beginning. At this point, we've designed about 40 cans for Fair State, along with at least another 40 bottles and a handful of limited-time taproom-only brands.

For the core line-up of beers, we intentionally let the "infinity pint" be the focal point - this is the logo we designed to represent the continuous relationship between the brewer and the beer community - and the beer used super-simple naming conventions like "IPA" and "PILS." It's big, it's bold, and it stands out on the shelf. We hoped that over time the infinity pint would come to signify that great stuff is inside, regardless of beer style, and thanks to Niko and the rest of the brewing team at Fair State, it has.

For the limited-time-only beers, we have a little fun, with more creative names and designs that spin-off them, either literally or conceptually. Since we're so buttoned-down on our core offerings, it lets these departures feel different.

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