Glassware: The refreshing hops and semi-sweet malts provide the perfect taste. These flavors are enhanced when the aroma can be fully experienced. The Speigelau IPA glass is the first choice with this IPA but a snifter, nonic pint, or Willi Becher pub glass will work perfectly.
Description: Ranger pours a light golden amber hue with bright white head that leaves a hefty lacing on the glass. The aroma has notes of citrus and semi-sweet caramel malts; it is a bit reserved but still showcasing a great selection of hops. The taste has citrus and grassy hops up front with notes of grapefruit, lemon, and oranges and backing notes of earthy hops before smooth caramel malts rush in and leave behind a long, dry, and delightfully bitter finish. The medium body and moderate carbonation give Ranger a smooth mouthfeel and aids in the highly easy drinking qualities of this beer. Ranger is a great IPA focused on balance instead of being a hop bomb and this makes it a great IPA for all craft beer fans to enjoy, even those just getting into craft beer.
Food pairing: The semi-aggressive hops and wonderfully sweet malts make Ranger a great choice for pairing with a large selection of dishes. This is a great beer for any final backyard cookouts of the summer and goes especially well with roasted pork smothered in barbecue sauce. Ranger is perfect with hamburgers piled high with toppings and barbecue chicken. The natural sweetness in both the meats and sauce are enhanced by the beer and the hops provide a wonderful backing citrus flavor. Another great pairing with Ranger is with salmon, a particularly delicious preparation for the dish is with lemon poached salmon as this will enhance both the malts and bring the citrus hops front and center. Dessert is also a viable option and Ranger goes especially well with carrot cake with cream cheese icing. The carbonation is still hefty enough to scrub the palate clean in between bites. This is most definitely a beer to experiment with and can find itself at home with nearly any dish.
The Final Word: New Belgium has built a strong following by brewing well balanced yet flavorful beers and this skill is on full display with Ranger. While the IPA style is undoubtedly the most popular among craft beer drinkers, it is still a style that many breweries have yet to find the perfect balance within, New Belgium has nailed it. The malts and hops are in perfect harmony and provide an incredibly easy drinking beer. If this is a sign of things to come from New Belgium than craft beer drinkers should rejoice and welcome the brewery to our area with open arms. If you are a craft beer lover but are still searching for that perfect gateway IPA than Ranger may be the beer you have been looking for and of course all hop lovers with love this beauty as well.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: New Belgium Brewing
Style: American IPA