Last week I wrote about the haze craze that isn’t going away any time soon in my bi-weekly beer column for The Advocate (read it here). I mentioned in passing that even classic West Coast-leaning Sierra Nevada had introduced a hazy NEIPA, called Hazy Little Thing. Just after the article was published, a new hazy IPA from New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger lineup (Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA) showed up on shelves. Of course, ever the fan of side by side taste tests, I had to test them out against each other. Here’s what I thought.
Here’s what Sierra Nevada has to say about Hazy Little Thing IPA:
A hop-heavy, unfiltered, hazy little thing called IPA.
As brewers, we get the privilege to sample our beers straight from the tanks in all their raw glory. Some beers need a little polishing to get ready to go out into the world, while others—the hop-heavy, rowdy, crowd-pleasers—should just be left alone. We wanted to share this brewery-only treat with you, so we present this Hazy Little Thing, our unfiltered, unprocessed IPA, straight from the tanks and into the can.
Sierra Nevada says Hazy Little Thing is brewed with Magnum bittering hops, then finished with Citra, Comet, Simcoe, El Dorado, Mosaic hops. Two-row pale, Munich, oats and acidulated malts are used along with ale yeast, and it weighs in at 6.7% ABV with 40 IBUs.
New Belgium has this to say about Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA:
Packed with bright tropical aromas and brilliant citrusy flavors, this unfiltered IPA wraps up with a pleasantly smooth finish.
Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze weighs in at 7.5% ABV, 42 IBUs and is fermented with American Hefeweizen yeast (curious). They used pale, wheat, crystal 80 and oats as the grain bill, and Citra, Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, Nugget hops.
I had previously been drinking (and enjoying) the Sierra Nevada offering, but my curiosity got the best of me when I saw the New Belgium version on the shelf at my local grocer. How would it stack up?
Both pour hazy (shocking, I know) with the New Belgium version appearing a bit more murky than the Sierra Nevada, which is a touch more orange hued. They aren’t too different looking, however, as you can see from the image.
The Hazy Little Thing has an aroma of tropical fruit, orange with a little pine. The flavor follows suit with the orange taking the lead. The finish is a bit resiny, but easy with a medium body. It’s easy to drink with a nice flavor profile. It doesn’t have that big creamy mouthfeel that is prevalent among the upper echelon of NEIPAs, it’s one of Sierra Nevada’s better efforts and shows that they are in tune with what the consumers want. While it doesn’t wow any of the senses, it is a solid IPA that should be easy to find. And it’s canned. I like cans. A lot.
Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze, on the other hand, has a more muted aroma, but with pineapple, mango and lemon notes, as well as a bit of yeast coming through. Oddly enough, the flavor isn’t hoppy enough and I thought the finish was almost chalky. It’s almost like a fake creamy mouthfeel that becomes unenjoyable. I really wanted to like this beer, but in my opinion, it was a swing and a miss. Using hefeweizen yeast may have made the beer more hazy, but it didn’t do any favors for the flavor and mouthfeel.
In closing, if you’re in a place where you can’t find any local hazy IPAs and your choices boil down to some of the heavy hitter national breweries, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab the Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA, but would pass on the New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA. In fact, the Sierra Nevada would be something I wouldn’t mind having around on a recurring basis.
Have you tried both of these beers? If so, tell me your thoughts in the comments.