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Why Oat Milk Might Be the Next Big Thing in Craft Beer

Dogfish Head released Hazy-O!, a Hazy IPA that proves oat milk can make beer better-tasting and better for the environment.

a hazy ipa beer can poured out into a glass
Dogfish Head

Pastry Stouts (or Dessert Stouts) and New England-style IPAs often utilize lactose, or even milk, as an ingredient to lend a creamy mouthfeel to beer. As a vegan myself, this is a fact that can be difficult to deal with at times. Thankfully, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione has a new solution: oat milk.

Dogfish Head is known for blazing trails in craft beer. And that’s especially true when it comes to IPAs (continuous hopping and Imperial IPAs can be attributed to Sam’s ingenuity). But oat milk? Oats and oatmeal have been putting in beers for a while now, but oat milk is different, and Dogfish Head's new beer Hazy-O!, released in Dogfish Head’s home state of Delaware on October 2 and available nationwide in early 2021, is one of the first beers to take a swing at it. It may be a game-changer.

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Plenty of studies have shown that our diets, specifically meat and dairy, have played a large part in climate change. A report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication earlier this year stated: "The production of livestock generates the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, whereas the production of fruit and vegetables generates the lowest levels."

Plant-based diets, of which oat milk squarely fits into, are one of the smartest choices we can make to have as little impact on the environment as possible. And oat milk has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any milk alternative — it's also one of the easiest to make yourself at home.

Calagione said the idea struck him when seeing an ad for oat milk in a magazine. He and the Dogfish Head team enlisted the services of Elmhurst out of New York to get the science right. Elmhurst was a family-owned dairy company for over 90 years before shifting to plant-based milks as alternatives for a better planet in the last few years.

In Hazy-O!, four forms of oats are used: malted oats, rolled oats, naked oats and oat milk. All of this creates the cloudiness attributed to Hazy IPAs, a silky mouthfeel and a subtly nutty flavor. Combined with eight different hops (Citra, Mosaic, Azacca, Centennial, Simcoe, BRU-1, Mandarina Bavaria and Sabro), the results are a hop-forward NEIPA that is incredibly smooth and drinks less than the 7.1 percent ABV — the creaminess is beyond anything I've ever tasted in a NEIPA and I was constantly thinking I was drinking some sort of creamsicle concoction. Hazy-O! is a true embodiment of the NEIPA style: overwhelming citrus notes and taste, a smooth, frothy mouthfeel, and a satisfying sensation that's more refreshing than expected.

Dogfish Head is by no means the first brewery to put oat milk in a beer — DuClaw Brewing put it in a limited Imperial Stout earlier in 2020. But from what we can gather, Hazy-O! will become the first oat milk beer to be nationally available to American beer drinkers. Look out for it.

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