I was going to write a review, but then I found this video on New Belgium’s website which pretty much sums it up. I’ll give ‘em some mad props for creativity and introducing a new beer into their lineup. It looks as though NB is going with a new packaging scheme which I do not find as enjoyable. I purchased a 22 oz. bomber which was more than enough to cure my hophead fix for a while (not to mention my Cascade quote).
When you get down to brass tacks, this beer is essentially “triple hops brewed” with Simcoe, Cascade, and Chinook. The three are used during the boiling stage and then it is dry-hopped with more Cascade for a bigger aroma. Ranger was not one of those IPAs that rocks your nostrils at the point of opening. I had to get my nose in the glass to experience the floral and fruity hop notes. There was a citrus aspect which my mind associated with pineapple. I received more of a woody, earthy, piney hop aroma, but for the most part it was very fresh. One of my favorite parts of homebrewing is that initial smell of hops just before I had them to the boil. Ranger definitely brought me back to that place in time.
The color was lighter than most IPAs I’ve had, but the malts did lend a semi-sweet aroma and taste. They of course rode shotgun on this excursion, but they helped to navigate accordingly. Upon commencing, I was hit with a barrage of hoppiness that was rather abrasive at first. I understand that hop heads probably love this aspect of IPAs, but for some reason it did not seem to suit this beer well. I was able to pick out the three hop varieties having used them in various homebrews (something to look forward to when trying Ranger because they support each other well). The bitterness mellowed on the backside of the sip and was rounded out with a dry finish. Actually, the aftertaste was pretty oily and resinous, but I enjoyed the piney/earthy qualities left the roof of my mouth.
Overall, this was on the weaker, lighter end of the IPA spectrum in regards to color, hoppiness, malt flavors, abv (6.5%), and aroma. I will say that my hiccups were wonderfully laden with a floral hop stench. Ranger is a good beer, but rather mid-range in its quality.