Beer Review 0362: New Belgium Ranger IPA

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New Belgium Brewing have a new beer on the market called Rampant, an Imperial IPA. We’ll be reviewing that tomorrow, but today, we’re going to give their Ranger IPA a look. I can’t think of why I’m only reviewing this 362 reviews in; I’ve had this beer many times and buy it as one of my mainstays several times a year.

New Belgium began production in 1991 after Jeff Lebesch biked through Europe and was inspired by all of the good beer over there. Upon returning, he started New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado; they became the first brewery to be powered by wind, showing they have an environmental conscience — and they offer ownership stake to anyone that has been employed by the brewery for one year.

Jeff’s wife, Kim Jordan, is New Belgium’s CEO. She was the company’s first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer, and financial planner. Whew!

Ranger IPA was introduced in 2010, and the beer celebrates New Belgium’s team of representatives that sell the beer across the United States (they call them Beer Rangers). Using Chinook, Simcoe, and Cascade hops, Ranger hits 70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and comes in at 6.5% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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Ranger IPA pours a large, fluffy, bright white head that retains nicely. The beer is classic IPA color, a rich, golden hue that has just a smidgen of hop haze. The body is clear, free of particles and sediment, allowing carbonation bubbles to really make a snowstorm show in the glass. Lacing was perfect, leaving behind one solid, thick sheet.

The aromatics are fairly typical for an IPA; heavy grapefruit and pine up front, but this one has a solid grassy component that becomes more focal as the beer warms. There’s a small note of tropical fruits, undoubtedly from the Simcoe, to polish the hop bill off; the malts are lightly present with some bready/grainy notes. Nothing overly impressive here but solid.

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Ranger greets the taste buds with a punch right away, but not of bitterness; instead, there’s ample lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Some dark, almost dank pine opens the palate up to some caramel malt and then… lots of bitterness. The bitterness continues to amp up on the finish, leaving the mouth with a grassy flavor, some grapefruit rind, and crushed aspirin. The bitterness level is almost too much, and it is quite drying, but it doesn’t go beyond excessive levels. This beer is medium-bodied, with a medium, gritty mouthfeel thanks to the lively carbonation.

Ranger is a perfectly drinkable offering from New Belgium, and honestly one of their best. Not only is this brew good looking, it’s good tasting and is a solid regular star in my fridge.

New Belgium Ranger IPA, 92 points. Price: $7.99 US for a six pack.

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