The Hazy IPA is among my favorite types of beers. A mixture of the bitterness I seek from the traditional IPA and the citrus found in a tall, delicious glass of juice. Many brewers have taken on the challenge of developing this type of beer with mixed results. There’s a delicate balance between going too far with the citrus element, and not going far enough. A couple examples of this category I’ve always enjoyed are New Belgium’s VooDoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA and Bell’s Official Hazy IPA. Considering the appreciation most fans have of each of these brewers, I thought it would be a fun challenge to put them up against one another. Let’s see how it went.
|Better label||New Belgium VooDoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA|
|Better aroma||Bell’s Brewing Official Hazy IPA|
|Better taste||New Belgium VooDoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA|
|Better finish||Bell’s Brewing Official Hazy IPA|
|Winner||Bell’s Brewing Official Hazy IPA|
Tell us about it
The New Belgium VooDoo Ranger series artwork has always appealed to me. A gold toothed skeleton wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and Holden Caulfied-styled hunting cap below a mountie’s hat makes for an interesting visual. So I had to go New Belgium in that category.
While each beer’s aroma is a similar well-hopped citrus, Bell’s Official was unmistakably more powerful and it took the category for me. The lacing was solid for each, but a heavier foam rests atop New Belgium’s Juicy Haze. The colors are of a similar palate, shades of a peach, with New Belgium leaning orange and Bell’s yellow, an attractive pairing for sure. In taste I chose New Belgium, as it presented a slightly more complex, full mouth feel. However, the finish goes to Bell’s because of it’s staying power. If this were a blind taste test, I’m not certain I would be able to pick one from the other, so I’m forced to split hairs on each of these categories!
This duel was as close as they get for me. I knew going in that I really enjoyed both of these beers, but this is what I love about the dueling format. From several aspects of the beers qualities, you’re forced to choose one or the other. Being the winner doesn’t make one side reign supreme, and being the loser doesn’t make the other side unworthy of purchase. Often times, both beers are enjoyable, presenting certain subtleties that set them apart from one another. A more complex finish, an aroma that fills the room, a surprising twist to the taste, even a cool label design can be enough to form an unbreakable bond to a beer and it’s brewer. So these duels offer a format to dissect the pairing, letting our senses decide which one we like more, and everyone’s opinion is valid.