Beer Review: New Belgium Ranger IPA

New Belgium Brewing

Ranger IPA

The Details

Style: India Pale Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%
Color: Deeply Golden
Brewery: New Belgium Brewing
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

Although I’ve always loved a great tasting beer, I didn’t always love IPA’s. As a matter of fact, I hated them for as long as I can remember. I normally stuck to palate pleasing pilsners and wheat ales, enjoying the full-flavors without the hops. However, somewhere along the road and hundreds of mildly-hopped brews later, the iconic taste of hops began to appease my palate more and more. I don’t know if I was just getting tired of the same old thing, but I like to think I became more sophisticated, you know, like a grown up or something. I thought to myself, “yes, the deep bitterness of the hops works quite well with the refreshing crisp of an ale”. And so my love of beer grew even further.

A quite interesting note is that Indian Pale Ales aren’t from India at all! They originated in Britain around the late 1700’s when fisherman and sea merchants found they couldn’t transport beer on ships to India - because the brews wouldn’t keep and went rancid by the time they arrived. A smart London brewer added large amounts of hops to the beer, which acted as a preservative, and because of this, the beers could make the long journey across the sea - if the fisherman didn’t drink it all first! This new, hoppy style became known as an India Pale Ale. Brewers have created thousands of variations over the years, and they don’t seem to be slowing down at all!

New Belgium Brewing certainly isn’t a stranger to IPA’s. They brew a couple of different styles year round, and have created countless seasonal and specialty varieties of hop-infused ales in the past. The intensity of hop flavor varies from beer to beer, but their Rampant IPA is a classic, as far as I’m concerned. Neither too strong nor too weak. A fantastic example of what an IPA should be, it has strong characteristics without being overwhelming to the palate.

I like to pour my beer into a frosty glass, letting the flavors remix and form a nice, white head on top. This might be my inner beer geek talking, but I think drinking out of a glass really opens up all the different flavors a brew has to offer. This brew is highly carbonated, much more than your average IPA. I tend to like a highly carbonated beverage, so this is a definite plus for me. The color is a deep golden hue, alluding to the fact that you are about to experience many flavor proportions. New Belgium has packed this brew full of a variety of hops. They use Cascade hops (giving a nice citrus flavor), Chinook hops (adding a nice floral characteristic), and Simcoe hops (for that pleasant, fruity flavor). With all this variety, it’s easy to see why this brew has so much going for it. It has a broad spectrum of well-balanced flavor without overload.

Lastly, New Belgium chose to dry hop this IPA with even more Cascade hops. Dry hopping is the process of adding hops once the beer has already been brewed and adds a dry, crisp hop finish to each sip. Since heat helps hops to release their flavor, you now know why when you burp after drinking a dry-hopped beer, you taste hops galore - your body temperature helps to release the flavor! Pretty interesting, isn’t it?

After you’ve experienced all the hoppy notes this beer has to offer, you may pick up on hints of delicious malts that act in the same way that celery and ranch dressing does to buffalo wings, cools everything down a bit. This is why this beer is so pleasing, can’t talk enough about the awesome balance of flavors!

I hope you’ve learned a good bit about IPA’s and the brew-worthy wonders of New Belgium’s Rampant IPA. Next time you’re feeling a little hoppy, give this balanced brew a try!