This article is part of a series of reviews on readily available hazy IPAs from some of the biggest craft breweries in the country.
Most craft breweries dabbling in the New England IPA release their hazy, hoppy brews directly from their taproom. Meaning, if you want to get your hands on some of the top-rated hazy IPAs, you’ll likely need to travel to the brewery, wait on line, and consume them as quickly as possible. But that’s not the case with Official Hazy IPA from Bell’s Brewery in Michigan.
Traditionally, most hyper-local IPAs aren’t considered “shelf-stable”; i.e., those juicy, mimosa-like fruit flavors will fade as the sixteen-ounce cans sit on a shelf. However, as bigger, more established breweries try their hands at hazy IPAs and ship them across the country to *gasp* sit on bottle shop shelves, they’ve figured out ways to make the haze last longer. Such is the beauty of Bell’s Official Hazy IPA.
Official Hazy IPA at a glance:
- This beer is a 6.4% hazy IPA brewed by Bell’s Brewery based in Comstock, MI.
- Official Hazy IPA is dry-hopped with Mosaic, Citra, Azacca, Amarillo and El Dorado hops.
- Official is available throughout the country in 12 and 16 oz. cans as well as on draft.
The Story Behind Official Hazy IPA
Bell’s Brewery is an American stalwart. The Michigan-based brewery has been operating since the mid-80s and has achieved critical and commercial success with beers that became instant classics. And, while they’ve more or less avoided any “hype” over the last few years, Bell’s has accrued some cult-like status among beer drinkers. Folks will cross state lines for the stunning drinkability of Two Hearted. And I think yearly verticals of Expedition Stout are still a thing? Regardless, Bell’s has, rightfully, earned plenty of goodwill from craft beer consumers.
And, as their colleagues began offering year-round, nationally distributed, Bell’s followed suit. But, in typical Bell’s fashion, their offering lacked pomp and circumstance; they let the beer do the talking. In March of 2019, Bell’s Brewery announced it would be releasing the simply titled “Official” Hazy IPA as a year-round brew. As a wheat-based IPA, Official draws from Bell’s genre-defining Oberon American Witbier to produce a soft, approachable, fruit-forward hazy IPA that aims to compete with the likes of Hazy Little Thing and Mind Haze, among others. But does Bell’s Official hold up?
What Bell’s Official tastes like:
Offical pours a dark orange–nearly copper–a bone white foam that sticks around for ages. The fizzy carbonation was almost ASMR-levels as the foam cap settled on the rim of my glass. It’s sufficiently hazy but not fully opaque.
I was a bit surprised to find the aroma slightly muted. With a stronger sniff I found some sweet malt notes and a sense of fresh bread with an orange marmalade spread. The first sip delivered more with a gentle and wheat soft mouthfeel. The flavors opened up with some bread sweetness, candied orange, lime. I found that any tropical flavors present played background while that sweet citrus took the lead. The overall experience is extremely smooth, like driving through a quiet town with the windows down. Maybe a slow John Prine song drifts out of the car speakers.
The Bottom Line
Official has been sold as a “mass-appeal” beer and while a cynic might say that would make the beer boring, I’d argue it’s accessible in its simplicity. I can completely imagine this as a great ballgame beer for someone who isn’t totally familiar with the style. It brings together the best of Two Hearted and Oberon in a subtly hoppy, wheat-forward beer.
On Untappd it sports a 3.79/5 and its earned an 87/100 on Beer Advocate. It might not excite seasoned hazy IPA drinkers but it certainly won’t offend, and it’ll likely introduce a completely unique audience to the style.
If I had a criticism, I’d want a bit of a bitterness to balance out some of that fruit sweetness and make it that much more refreshing. Regardless, it delivers on all of its promises and demonstrates that you can make a gateway hazy IPA without it being boring.
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