All photos by Kevin Gibson.
Another year, another bunch of new beer releases. New Belgium Brewing in December and January rolled out several new brews that will be available throughout the year. That’s not such a big surprise, but the Colorado brewery did pull off one minor surprise when it discontinued three of its existing stock, replacing them with two new beers.
Gone is the Slow Ride Session IPA, as well as Shift Pale Lager and Snapshot Wheat. The brewery’s IPA line, which formerly included Ranger IPA, has now been branded Voodoo Ranger IPA, while the double IPA in the brewery’s product line follows through with the name and new artwork.
The all-new new beers include Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale, Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour, and Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale. Finally, New Belgium Bohemian Pilsner takes over where Blue Paddle Pilsener leaves off. A few other minor tweaks took place as well.
“This is our most ambitious portfolio reimagining since our beginnings,” said a New Belgium Brewing spokesperson, Bryan Simpson, in a media release. “We’ve got a lot of excitement, momentum, and energy coming out of the pilot system and that makes for a bounty of great beers with interesting twists. We are very much back into experimentation and risk taking and that is hugely energizing for the whole brewery.”
I managed to get my hands on a few of these beers, old and new. With the new, lighter-bodied beers, I got the feeling that New Belgium might be trying to find a middle ground area between the beer snobs and those just starting to explore craft beer. If so, it might not be a bad time to explore that marketing strategy.
Here are some quick takes:
Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour: Equal parts saison and Berlinerweisse, this one is Crisp, lightly tart, citrusy, lightly acidic, and with the ginger up front in both the nose and flavor profile. Newbies shouldn’t be put off by the word “sour” here – this is a tart and refreshing brew for spring and summer sipping, and at just 4.8 percent ABV, you can have two or three.
Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale: I’m not sure how exotic this one is; for my taste buds, it’s a solid blond ale brewed with some Persian lime. Now, it’s much, much better than a cheaply flavored lime beer (you know the one), but it is what it is. Enjoyable, nonetheless.
Dayblazer Easygoing Ale: This one works pretty nicely as a golden ale with a soft body, somewhere between a wheat beer and a cream ale, in a way. It carries a hint of sweetness and no bitterness, so it’s easy to drink, and is another session option at 4.8 percent ABV.
Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale: The name promises hops and delivers with an incredibly tropical nose like a full-on IPA. The finish is more like a pale ale, with very little hop bitterness or bite, and lacking that emptiness a so-called session IPA sometimes offers. Surprisingly well done balance. The one odd effect I noticed was that my palate expected the bitterness promised by the nose with every drink, but it remained dormant. I’m not sure that’s even a criticism, just a warning to hopheads.
Voodoo Ranger IPA: This one has the classic floral nose, with a hint of earthiness – New Belgium played it pretty straight with Mosaic and Amarillo hops being the main thrust. It’s a medium-bodied beer with a unique flavor, oddly sweet at first, followed by light acidity and classic IPA bitterness. Solid.
Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA: Exactly what you expect, with a big malt presence, a tantalizing blend of Mosaic, Calypso, Bravo, and Delta hops, and packing a big bitter finish and a hint of the tart citrus and piney qualities of modern IPAs. This is a good imperial IPA, but beware – this one hits you with 9 percent ABV. Sip ’em slowly, and savor.
In a separate media release, New Belgium announced it will begin distributing in four new states this spring: Oklahoma (Feb. 6); Vermont and New Hampshire (March 20), and Maine (April 24).