New Brew: New Belgium Ranger India Pale Ale

9 Feb

New Belgium Brewing has quickly expanded its line-up since it first entered the Wisconsin market last year.  Initially just a few standards such as Fat Tire and Mothership Wit in bombers, Wisconsinites are now privy to much of their catalog including seasonals and special releases like La Folie, their well-lauded sour brown ale (you know I have a bottle chilling in the mini-fridge – holler!).  Their latest is Ranger India Pale Ale – their first venture in true American-style (read: hopped-til-you-drop) IPAs named after the ambassadors of beer they’ve enlisted across their empire.

Beer: New Belgium Ranger India Pale Ale

Vitals: 6.5% abv; 70 IBUs; Hops: Cascade, Chinook, Simcoe; Malts: pale, dark caramel

Company Line: “So, here it finally is – New Belgium’s foray into the true American India Pale Ales. Bring out the hops! This clear amber beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. Brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize the hop flavor from start to finish, Ranger is a sessionable splendor for all you hopinistas. Thank your Beer Ranger! -newbelgium.com

My take: crystal clear amber under loads of soapy, lacy foam in the glass.  Aroma bounces between herbal and tropical fruit hop notes.  Palate surprises with a brief strike of…watermelon? between the varied hop characters.  Dry herbaceous and citrus notes from the Cascade are countered by pineapple and apricot from the Simcoe.  Malt presence is light and biscuity, lending a smooth, dry finish that scrubs any lingering hops resin from the palate and invited further sipping.  Aside from the slightly distracting watermelon note, this is a highly sessionable and pleasantly balanced take on the American IPA.  Flavorful without being heavy-handed.  Ranger gives the drinker the benefit of the doubt in assuming a sophisticated and discerning palate that looks for more than high IBU values in an IPA.  At $4 a bomber, you really can’t go wrong.

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