For my first set of reviews I’ll be starting with two beers from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo. The brewery offers many different styles of beers, from more commonly found tastes to the much craftier (and pricier) Lips of Faith series. And, best of all, a large amount of their products are available in 26 states, so you usually have a lot to choose from. I won’t be reviewing Fat Tire, the brewery’s most common and popular beer, in this post, but I will later. And as you see from the headline, one I like, and one I don’t. And check out the links page for the New Belgium Web site, which has cool features such as videos, recipes and food pairings for each beer.
Ranger India Pale Ale
This IPA is part of the brewer’s Ranger series. I look at Pale Ales and IPAs as the red wine of the beer world. They tend to be dry, aromatic, have a slightly higher alcohol content and offer the most complex taste. This IPA is no different, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s not too dark, not too light and has the perfect amount of hops. Before you even taste it, the fruity bouquet hits you. They use hops that produce fruity scents, and when you take a sniff you get a citrusy aroma, which to me resembled a grapefruit. The ale has a medium thickness and is bursting with flavor. At first a combination of savory bitterness and sweetness hits you right away, but not too overpowering. While some IPAs can be heavier and even wheat-like, which can weigh you down, this one is nothing short of refreshing. There is also a pleasant aftertaste that leaves your mouth slightly puckered and wanting more. In the wine world, if a wine changes taste from lips to throat, it is called “complex.” This, then, must be a complex beer.
I recommend this IPA to anyone that wants to try an IPA for the first time or likes them already. The hops are in great balance with the thickness of the beer; even though it’s on the lighter side for IPAs, it is chock full of flavor and it’s fruity note keeps you refreshed. I was struggling on the overall rating for this because I went from really liking it to loving it. In the end, it came down to one thing: each time I was almost done with one bottle, I was waiting to open another one. I just couldn’t get enough.
Overall 9/10 Notable Bouquet Citrus, Grapefruit
Blue Paddle is New Belgium’s version of a Czech lager/pilsner. America is known for lagers, so it seems to natural to produce one, plus many are seen as brewers’ “base” beers. I was not a fan of Blue Paddle, though. It didn’t have much flavor and wasn’t very smooth. It seemed to have a touch of carbonation. Lagers are meant to be refreshing, but this wasn’t. I didn’t like it at first but decided to give it more tries…after all, I did buy a six-pack of it. But nothing changed. During each one I didn’t want to finish it and I ended up giving some of them away. It took me a while to put my finger on another beer it reminded me of, and I was finally able to place it: Miller Genuine Draft. It surprised me too, but it tasted like MGD. So, if you’re a fan of MGD or are looking at this at the store, my advice is to save your money and just buy MGD.