New Belgium Ranger IPA

New Belgium's Ranger IPA
New Belgium’s Ranger IPA

These New Belgium beers started showing up in force, massive force, in local stores early in 2016. Apparently there is a well-funded marketing campaign going on here, but i have held back for two reasons: first, NB prices are damned high. Second, the label says they’re made in Colorado and North Carolina, which immediately makes me think that New Belgium is a schill for the Coors Empire, and thus not a “craft” beer at all. Weird that they hit the shelves with conspicuous display space devoted on day-1, with a half-dozen varieties all at once.

OK… i stand entirely corrected and blushingly sheepish. Wiki tells me that NB is not only independent, but employee-owned by the nearly 600 people who work there. They’re just a huge indy: the 8th largest brewery in the US. Wow, well done, fat tire guys and girls! The location in NorCaro is an expansion, not a shadow arm of a megabrewery. But the prices, once the stuff gets here, are still quite high.

But i did find a pack-your-own display which has the NB IPA, so couldn’t pass up a chance to try just one bottle of the IPA, then since i’m getting good at tasting IPA’s, if this one pans out then maybe i’d try the other 7 flavors New Belgium has out.

According to the label they use Simcoe, Chinook and Cascade hops, and after this many IPA’s, i’m starting to get an inkling that Cascade is the one which matches my tastes the best. And on the label there’s a best-by date which is in a font so small that it is a moot point. Mostly, the label says 6.5% alk inside.

Color is not so pale, a tad past golden, and the smell holds up a flag of hops as a welcome/warning, depending on your inclination. The color doesn’t lie here, and there is a decent beer body underpinning everything. But it’s not so burly as to deter the hops from taking and shaking your tongue. Said of which, the combo of hops plays nicely together, and the strength is solid puckerboi.

It’s a little bit sweet too, which really helps the multihopping reach out into new flavors. I taste peach and some kind of berry, and celery, oddly enough. The after-aftertaste is almost tomato. On the beer side, it nearly tastes like rye, because of all the odd things the hops are doing with that bit-o-honey sweetness. Towards the end of the glass, it gathers the creamy element which so many top IPA’s have. Why couldn’t that aspect jump out at first? Perhaps that’s why my Top Five are who they are?

Applause to NB for going all renewablish at their brewery, they even catch escaping methane from the process and use that for more green energy. They’re spreading the love even to the grunts in Shipping, and growing fast. If the stuff wasn’t expensive, i’d buy it just to support what that company’s doing. Or if i was rich, i’d buy more.

Wrap it up, this is a high level IPA. It won’t break into the Five because the balance between beer and hops is a touch off, but let’s call it 8.8 for Effort. It does a good enough job that i’m open to trying their Fat Tire Amber, but naturally that’ll be a bottle or two from the pick-a-six rack, since i’m not rich.

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