The haze is all the craze.
And, arguably, no brewery has been doing it as long as Blue Moon Brewing Co.
The Denver brewery that put hazy beer on the map for many U.S. drinkers with the release of its flagship Blue Moon Belgian White Belgian Wheat-Style Ale was honored over the weekend for another hazy beer, a hazy pale ale called Moon Haze.
Moon Haze, which is brewed at Blue Moon's brewery in Denver's RiNo neighborhood, beat out 136 competitors in a blind tasting to win a gold medal at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival® competition for the best juicy or hazy pale ale.
The victory represents Blue Moon's 12th medal at the world's largest professional beer competition, which is presented by the Brewers Association. And it sent Blue Moon's brewing team into shock, says John Legnard, Blue Moon's brewmaster.
"Any medal is well-earned at GABF, so to win a gold is truly special, especially in a highly competitive category," Legnard says. "I am very proud of this medal, as it shows Blue Moon continues to innovate and be a leader in the craft beer industry."
Legnard calls the victory "a great team win. This beer had so many collaborators and helpers to get it to the medal podium that I can't possibly thank them all."
The last Blue Moon product to win a medal at the Great American Beer Festival was Blue Moon Mango Wheat, which took home a silver in 2016 in the fruit beer category.
The RiNo team first brewed Moon Haze in May 2019 as a New England-style hazy IPA and later adjusted the beer to a juicy pale ale that checks in at about 5.7% alcohol-by-volume and 30 IBUs. The beer, which is dosed with a late addition of hops in the boil and dry hopped with a special blend of hops, pours a deep hazy golden with a thick, dense head that holds citrus aromatics. The additions of wheat malt and oats to a pale malt base give the beer a creamy mouthfeel, but Moon Haze finishes with a slight bitterness and a hint of juice that lingers until the next sip.
"What makes it especially juicy is the special addition of dried whole oranges during the brewing process to infuse that flavor into the beer," Legnard says. "The resulting beer is simply magical."
Moon Haze is available in pints and to-go growlers at Blue Moon's RiNo brewery in Denver, which boasts a rotating cast of 24 draft lines and serves as an innovation lab for the brand. It is able to receive near-instant feedback from wait staff and customers, which allows brewers to tweak beers so they more closely match consumer expectations.
In addition to Blue Moon Mango Wheat, a handful of other innovations available nationwide got their start at the RiNo brewery, including Blue Moon Iced Coffee Blonde and Blue Moon LightSky, the top new innovation in beer in 2020, per Nielsen data.
Moon Haze's gold medal is the latest in a line of "amazing wins for Blue Moon RiNo," says Mara Schaefer, senior marketing director at Molson Coors, who oversees the Blue Moon brand. "It's a true testament to the history of innovation and experimentation for the Blue Moon Brewing Company. We could not be more proud of John and the entire RiNo team."