Reviewed: New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicifer IPA
Official description: Brimming with citrus aromas from Galaxy and Citra hops, this moderately sweet and hazy IPA is devilishly juicy. Malts: Pale, Munich, Oats. Hops: Citra Incognito, Galaxy, Chinook. 7.7% ABV, 50 IBUs
New Belgium Brewing Co – New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicifer IPA – 12oz can served in stemless snifter – 7.7% ABV
Voodoo Ranger is New Belgium’s sub-brand for…well something. Right now it seems to be their IPA lineup, but it also included Atomic Pumpkin as recently as last fall, a pumpkin beer with habaneros. I also reviewed Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze last year and was not too impressed. Voodoo Ranger Imperial Black IPA was excellent, but I’m not sure if it’s coming back for 2019. Voodoo Ranger Liquid Paradise IPA is one I would recommend, but I have not done a full review yet. Another release for this year is the Up Next Series Passion Fruit Kölsch, which was a colossal disappointment, especially when compared to the other Up Next Series beer, Brut IPA, which made my list of best new beers of 2018. Overall, New Belgium’s beers have been all over the place. I have no idea what to expect from Juicifer, so let’s try it out!
I’m sampling Juicifer IPA from a 12oz can with a best before date of 9/8/2019 and no packaging date. If we assume the industry standard of a 4-month freshness window, then this beer was canned on 5/8/19 making it less than 2 weeks old. Into the glass, Juicifer isn’t the soupy, hazy IPA I was expecting given the turbidity of Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze. Instead, this is a nearly clear beer that is cloudy after pouring mostly from chill haze. As it approaches room temperature, it clears up nearly all the way. Topping it is a wonderfully thick head of beige foam that has incredible gloss and prolonged retention. So far, this is looking fantastic!
The aroma is a brighter mix of cantaloupe, Mandarin orange, peach, and pear. Fresh bread peeks through as the beer warms. Digging in, Juicifer has so much in common with my favorite clear IPAs such as Pizza Port Swami’s or even Russian River Happy Hops. Fresh, chewy sourdough is prominent as is oatmeal and even more whole grain flavors like bran and rye. There’s almost that raw, husky quality that I find in some Sierra Nevada beers. Chinook hops then punch through all that with a resinous verging on nutty bitterness like Brazil nut. The balance between sweet and bitter is perfect.
The mouthfeel is similarly impressive. It’s incredibly fatty/oily with amazing richness and density. It glides across the palate akin to the best IPAs out there today. I love the resinous quality from the Chinook addition coupled with the silkiness from the oats.
Perceived Specs for New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicifer IPA
Wow. Juicifer is not what I expected. Far from being a redo of the yeasty, hefeweizen-like Juicy Haze IPA, Juicifer is just a perfect example of a modern, clear IPA. Sure, it has a tiny bit of haze probably from the oats addition, but this is finished, refined, balanced beer with prominent bitterness – all descriptors that do not apply to Hazy IPAs. This may very well make my list of Best New Beers of 2019.
Sierra Nevada Tropical Torpedo, Pizza Port Swami’s, Russian River Happy Hops, Beachwood Amalgamator, El Segundo Mayberry IPA, Karl Strauss Aurora Hoppyalis, Belching Beaver Phantom Bride, Modern Times Booming Rollers, Alchemist Focal Banger, Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine.
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May 24, 2019 @ 4:41 am
Ranger is the epithome of acrid nasty ipa. One of the worst beers in history, vile, tastes like poison. Way overhopped, new belgium is way overrated. If you are stuck on new belgium try Abbey.
May 23, 2019 @ 10:37 pm
I don’t understand your negative comments refering to VR Juicy Hazy IPA. For its price range it kills it in the style. In Chicago (and you know Chicago breweries are dominating in craft beer quality) we are powerhouses in the NEIPA style. More, Noon Whistle, Marz, Alarmist, Maplewood…I could go on and on….Although the VR JHIpa isnt at that level, it’s a quality representation on the style for its price range…
So let’s compare similar price points:
Bells Hazy – weak not really a NEIPA
Sierra Nevada Hazy – same not really a NEIPA.
Deschutes Hazy – pretty good for the price point.
Firestone Walker – terrible, not even hazy.
Osker Blues CanOBliss Hazy Ipa – pretty good.
Of the mid level NE….Juicy Hazy is the best of the group.
Tell me why I’m wrong…….
May 24, 2019 @ 1:16 am
Thanks for the comment. I think this has to do with a couple of things. First, real hazy IPA was never meant to be distributed cross country. It’s an on-tap, at-the-brewery specialty like in Germany you have zoiglbier and kolsch that absolutely cannot tolerate packaging and distribution. Like you said, your favorite are locals in your region.
Second, it is very possible that I’m being unfair to Juicy Haze IPA. It continues to be in stores and people seem to be buying it. I don’t really compare beers based on price, so I yield to you on best bang for your buck. I agree that the Bell’s Official Hazy IPA was a big flop. And I think we agree that SN Hazy Little Thing isn’t a hazy IPA but it is good. I think where we disagree may be down to regional distribution. For instance, you liked New Belgium Juicy IPA (I did not) and I like the Firestone Walker Mind Haze (you did not). Perhaps if we both had fresher examples that didn’t sit in a truck, we may like both of them.
I have not re-tried Juicy Haze IPA, so concede that I may have been unfair. I think I spelled out clearly why I didn’t like it though. It was estery and yeasty, which I’ve never experienced with a hazy IPA before, and it was the worst kind of chalky like eating cement mix. So, I was pretty confident in my assessment that it needed improvement. But like I said, it could be due to shipping conditions, freshness, etc.