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Ranger India Pale Ale. New Belgium is Stylishly Late for the IPA Party.

May 10, 2010

New Belgium Brewing Co. out of Fort Collins, CO has a lot going for it. Fat Tire tap handles adorn darn near every establishment within the 26 states that NB distributes to and that particular brew is often cited by those who have had a recent beer epiphany (although I’ve heard it mistakenly called Flat Tire countless times.) New Belgium also garners publicity for it environmental awareness and being listed as one of the best places to work in America. As if that wasn’t enough, the Brewer’s Association just listed New Belgium as No.3 on their list of top 50 Breweries of 2009 behind only the mighty Boston Beer Co. and Sierra Nevada. So, you could say things are looking up for this brewery already located in the thermosphere.

Although I do not consder myself a “fan” of New Belgium I do pay attention when they release a new brew. Where I’m from in Central Illinois we are mostly relegated to Fat Tire, 1554 (which is fantastic), Sunshine Wheat, Mothership Wit, and the rotation of seasonals. I always read press releases of the newest Lips of Faith or other star-studded brews being released, but they never seem to make it to Peoria, IL. It seems that even New Belgium’s latest year-round staple, Ranger India Pale Ale, is hard to come by in these parts. I managed to come across a 1 pint 6 fl oz. bottle of Ranger and I couldn’t pass it up.

Named after New Belgiums “Beer Rangers” who I guess go around drinking beer all the time (don’t we all?) Ranger IPA is the result of beer fans craving hoppy brews. Not that Mighty Arrow or Hoptober are lacking in the hops department, but New Belgium had never done an all out IPA. This is quite surprising coming from the nations third largest craft brewer, although, I’ve never run across a Samual Adams IPA either…odd. Anyway, my fellow beer law enforcers have spoken and New Belgium whipped up Ranger India Pale Ale using Cascade, Chinook, and Simcoe hops to deliver 70 IBUs and 6.5% ABV.

REVIEW

Into my standard pint glass goes this Ranger. What devours the emptiness is a clear and bright copper colored liquid. The head is tall, off-white, and standing strong. The lacing is chunky and clings to the side of the glass like the remains of a cicada; only this wont be near as much fun to torture an older sister with.

The aroma is above-standard IPA fare with a boquet of hops leading your nose down a path of different hop varieties. I’m picking up on herbs, spice, and flowers followed by musty blanket and a distinct fresh pine cone aroma. I’m not blown away, but with IPAs a dime a dozen nowadays who really is impressed by hops anymore? It smells good. And hoppy.

Pleasantly surprising is the strong malty backbone that presents itself before taking a bow  and letting the humble hops take center stage. Act I is filled with toasted malt and bread notes. Act II is full of a light, fluffy, popcorn butteryness that seems oddly out of place. Oh wait, that was the handful of Act II popcorn I just ate. Act II of Ranger’s flavor profile is a slow rising bitterness full of resiny pine flavors. Well done! Bravo! Encore!

Ranger India Pale Ale is light in the mouth, slightly carbonated, and highly drinkable. I do not see a six pack of this in my near future, but this just might be the shining light atop a tap handle stage filled with “Light” brews.

Score: 79/100

Beer Epiphany Percent: 73%

Fat Tire is the spokesbrew for craft beer. It makes people feel warm and fuzzy inside when they choose it over Bud or Miller, but it’s not something I seek out or register among other quality micros. However, Ranger IPA is a bit more abrasive and flavorful than its older brother. With hops currently dominating the beer scene this would be a wonderful way to introduce your illigitimate beer friends to the hoppier side of life.

LINKS

New Belgium Brewing Co.

Ranger at Beeradvocate.com

Ranger at Ratebeer.com

Beernews.org Press Release

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