You can count on Americans to be as divisive with their beer preferences as they are with everything else in life. In the IPA world, your passions will skew you towards the hazy and fruity camp, or the unclouded and bitter scene. Every now and then, you'll find something that plays to both sides. And these are such reaching-across-the-aisle brews.
2 Row - Happy Day IPA: It's not hazy, but not filtered either—just a natural-looking beer. The orange/goldenrod color comes with a thin, retentive head of bone-white foam that lasts and lasts. Good legs and nice structure overall; the lace is a bit drippy instead of being super consistent or overtly amazing, but it'll do. The nose is a nice, big, juicy hit of citrusy and tropical hops, as expected, right off the bat—very saturated and pronounced, with strong overtones of orange, pineapple and tangerine, plus light backing notes of mango and ripe guava. The Citra seems very pronounced here, with a little bit of the odd berry-like note of Mosaic helping out. I don't think it congeals as well together as some other people do, but it's mighty fine in any case, and certainly does a good job with the hops in question.
The flavor profile is a little better, mostly due to its heft and the way it carries itself. Happy Day IPA has a nice aroma, but the flavor is a different beast, a bit maltier and more balanced, with a deftly creamy and, well, juicy feel, bringing with it lots of orange, pineapple, tangerine, and orchard fruit flavors. A touch of pine and bitter resin in the finish round it all out. On the tongue is where the beer really shines.
Overall: Since the taste of a beer itself is the most important part of judging it, this definitely makes the cut, and it's a sublime citrus-hopped ale.
Squatters - Hop Rising Hazy: The nice thing about beers like these is that you can control the amount of clarity. Rouse the can, and you'll get it murky; an easy pour, and it will just look unfiltered. I went with the easy pour, and got an orange body with some golden highlights. The aroma is full of fruit juice, citrus, orange peel and tropical fruit—very fresh, hoppy and enticing, with an appealing hop flavor, at least judging by the aroma.
The taste starts out pulpy, fruity and citrusy, with lots of Sunny Delight-ish muddled fruit juice and muted citrus (i.e. there's no fresh orange peel or luscious mandarin or anything crazy-acidic). The result is balanced, smooth, pulpy, medium-bodied, wet, well-carbonated, refreshing despite its approachable 9.0 percent ABV. It's also more textured and thicker than many large production IPAs, which elevates its fruit juice flavors nicely at the expense of drinking clean and easy—though its 9 percent ABV is shockingly well-disguised, to be fair.
Overall: The back end of this beer reminds me a little of some Citra-hopped beers of old. Less juice, yes, and actually a little blah for the first half. The back end really brings citrus rind, orange and grapefruit, with a little more zest of the smaller fruit and pith of the larger.
At 7.4 percent Happy Day IPA is easily approachable, and the 12-ounce bottle easily helps to manage your consumption. You can find it at the brewery and better beer pubs around the city. This is a smaller than normal batch, so move on this one pronto. Hop Rising Hazy is a much larger batch, and these 12-ounce cans will also be showing up in DABC very soon, so keep an eye out if you're not near a Squatters/Wasatch outlet. As always, cheers.