Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Belgium's First IPA

After 17 years in the business, the Fort Collins brewery known for its Belgian-style creations and experiments in sourness has crafted its first India pale ale, due to hit shelves on Feb. 1. And Ranger IPA stands out from the crowd in one particular way: it is one of the lightest IPAs you will taste.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on what you want out of your hoppy beers. But the straw-golden body and slightly floral-citrus nose immediately indicate that the IPA you are drinking here is not one of the scorch-your-palate hop bombs that breweries like Stone and Russian River have made into the very definition of the style.

The lightness present here isn't without taste. Indeed, the warmer it gets, the more that the grapefruit characteristic wafts to the surface and makes its presence known. In fact, once you prepare yourself for the lack of taste bud assault to come, you admire the core easiness that is present here.

And maybe that is what one should take from this newest entry into the IPA market. New Belgium hasn't given to the beer world a creation that will re-define the style or make you wonder how much earthy, grassy flavor a brewer can drop into one glass. It is, instead, an easily accessible beer that drinkers not fond of the big, bold flavors that dominate the style can still drink. And enjoy.

This won't go down as one of New Belgium's master strokes, like the far-less accessible Le Terroir that pushes the boundaries of sour beers but leaves you shocked at its complexity. This is just a smooth, palatable take on the IPA - take it or leave it.


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