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Sam Adams Just the Haze Review

Just the Haze

A polarizing, potentially successful juice bomb

NON-ALCOHOLIC

Tasting Notes

Nose

Orange, tropical fruit, Frosted Flakes

Palate

Orange juice, frosted flakes, peach. Sweet, low bitterness, but not soda/syrupy sweet. Tastes back-sweetened, like actual orange juice is in there. Medium-full body. Nails Wicked Hazy flavor profile

Finish

Very light bitterness. Frosted Flakes & orange sweetness

By the Numbers

Calories

98 calories/12oz

Alcohol

<0.5% ABV (Non-Alcoholic)

Ingredients*

Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, White Wheat, Golden Naked Oats, hops, natural flavors.

*Comprehensive ingredients list unavailable

Hops

Citra, Mosaic, Sabro, Cascade

The founding father of Craft Beer goes non-alcoholic

Sam Adams (the man) is known as one of the Founding Fathers of these fine United States, and Sam Adams (the brewery) is known as one of the Founding Fathers of American craft beer. So does Just the Haze mark the beginning of a revolution in craft non-alcoholic beer? Let’s find out.

Just the Haze is currently one of the more popular non-alcoholic IPAs that doesn’t come from a brewery rhyming with “Shmathletic.” Thanks to the marketing and distribution brawn of one of the largest and oldest American craft breweries, it keeps showing up on more liquor store shelves, bar menus, and stadium concession stands across the country, particularly up and down the East Coast. 

Following remarkably closely in the footsteps of their flagship New England IPA, Wicked Hazy, Just the Haze uses a similar malt blend and hop mix to create an accurate non-alcoholic replica of the full-strength version, even if Sam Adams doesn’t go out of their way to explicitly link the two beers. I’m generally a fan of Wicked Hazy and its little cousin Wicked Easy, but both carry some unique tasting notes that could be polarizing among the crowd of IPA fans, and these notes continue directly into Just the Haze.

What Does it Taste Like?

Just the Haze—on paper—hits all of the right marks for a New England IPA, with big tropical and citrus notes on the nose and palate, moderate to light bitterness, and a full body. The execution is where things get interesting, and where Sam Adams probably took the most risk in their process.

On the nose, Just the Haze starts off with big whiffs of orange, tropical fruits, and Frosted Flakes (hopefully you’re friendly with Tony the Tiger; this sweet corn flake note will be a common theme throughout this review). In short, take the alcohol burn out of Wicked Hazy, and you have the nose of Just the Haze. 

On the palate, we see more of that strong orange flavor, peach, and those Frosted Flakes. Here, the Frosted Flakes are coming through in a strong sweetness that accompanies the full body. To be clear, it’s not syrupy sweet like a soda through most of the body; rather, it has a fullness that’s probably being mellowed by the hops, only to pop out alone towards the finish. And juicy—as in, almost too juicy. Similar to Wicked Hazy, this guy has a juciness that feels a bit too vibrant and forced to be coming from just hops and malt ingredients, though it’s not wholly unpleasant. We’ll analyze more below, but I suspect that the wheat is making up a relatively large percentage of the malt base, and I wouldn’t be surprised (though can’t confirm) if some of the added “natural flavors” in this beer are doing a lot of the heavy juice lifting.

The finish continues the orange and Frosted Flakes theme, balanced by medium to light bitterness from the hops. The last note to linger is that orange sweetness, which is restrained from being too annoying by the underlying hops.

Is Sam Adams Just the Haze Any Good?

This is where I could see the polarization appearing — Just the Haze is citrusy, tropical, juicy, and one of the fullest bodied N/A beers I’ve had. Yet, the way that Sam Adams gets there feels somewhat…forced. Let me explain.

Spin a can of Just the Haze around, and you’ll notice it contains a whopping 98 calories. For context, Untitled Art’s Juicy IPA — one of the thickest, fullest N/A IPAs I’ve ever tried — comes in at 55 calories for a 12oz can. Athletic’s Free Wave has 70 calories, and even a 4.2% ABV Miller Lite has 96 calories. The alcohol itself accounts for ~82 of those calories! Now, none of these have a tremendous amount of calories in the grand scheme of beers, but the higher value from Sam Adams aligns with the sweetness and body we were noting earlier. 

As a general rule,  perceived body directly increases with sweetness, and adding sweetness will usually bring up your calorie count if you’re not leveraging a no-calorie sweetener. Just the Haze doesn’t taste syrupy sweet like a soda, but there is an underlying juicy sweetness that sit on top of the full body. And this isn’t your typical NEIPA juice — it actually tastes a great deal like orange juice. If you told me that the brewers at Sam Adams added orange juice post-fermentation, I wouldn’t doubt you for a second.

An adjunct that is explicitly added and contributing to this flavor profile is wheat. Wheat is commonly added to beers for its lighter citrus and fruit flavors, and it pops up in a lot of non-alcoholic beers in particular. That being said, I would guess that Sam Adams whole Hazy line goes heavier on the wheat than most wheated IPAs.

What does this all mean? It means that Just the Haze (and Sam Adams’ other Hazy beers) are juicy in a way that I haven’t experienced outside of fruited IPAs. If those are your jam, then I would definitely give this a try. If you want something more straightforward, leaning more on the hops — there are other NA IPAs out there for you.