India Pale Ales can be intimidating to the hophobic, but New Belgium Brewery's Ranger IPA is inviting and refreshing. Lacking the bitter overly hopped smack stronger IPAs may wallop the Ranger is nicely herbal, offering a wildly floral bouquet.
Poured in a chilled pint glass, the beer develops a substantial, lasting head. As the suds crash against the tongue, a pleasant citrus taste overtakes the mouth.
The packaging complements the beer's subtle robustness. With three pounds of hops per barrel, a seasoned drinker would expect a more intense flavor profile, but the brewmaster's skill shines though with a joyous malty finish. Four hop additions of Simcoe, Chinook or Cascade result in a delightful medley.
The beer's smooth taste deceptively masks its hefty alcohol content (6.5% ABV). The New Beer Board's expert palates could barely detect the hidden hooch, though our reddened cheeks may have shown otherwise.
Overall, the Ranger is a welcome addition to New Belgium's consistently solid lineup. The Colorado brewery has yet to produce an underwhelming brew, and this one is no exception. It tastes great and is approachable for even the most hop-sensitive imbibers.
Best enjoyed when: You want a strong, tasty beer you can sip on as you watch the sun setting over water.
Best served: In a chilled pint glass poured from a bottle or on draught.