New PoP Feature: Judging Beers by Sam Fitz – Vol. 1 Ranger IPA

Ed. Note: After we spoke about Fat Tire last week a reader wrote in suggesting a regular feature on beers. As a lover of beer I thought it was a great idea. As a drinker of Budweiser I knew I needed an expert. Welcome Sam Fitz from Meridian Pint who will (along with other guest posters) tackle a beer every week. If you have a specific beer you’d like reviewed let us know in the comments or send me an email at princeofpetworth(at)gmail.

New Belgium 22-ounce bottles are being sent to bars, restaurants and stores across Washington today, but they’re not just distributing Fat Tire. Yes, it is exciting that one of the country’s most sought-after beers will finally be regularly available here in DC, but New Belgium makes a range of other beers well worth drinking. Three of their staples–Ranger IPA, Trippel, and Hoptober Golden Ale (seasonal)–also hit shelves today.

Lips of Faith, New Belgium’s highly prized experimental line of beers, is coming too in the form of two new brews, Clutch and Kick. The first is a dark sour ale and the second a cranberry pumpkin beer that also resides on the sour side.

As exciting an addition as both of these beers are to the already exploding DC beer culture, Ranger IPA, which should be available year-round, is worth a closer look. At 6.5%, Ranger IPA isn’t too boozy but, at a very high 70 International Bitterness Units, it’s a bit of a beast that will leave your palate stripped of the capacity to taste anything else–other than another sip of Ranger, of course. This beer is not for the light-hearted, but it does offer a big bouquet of tastes and aromas that reward those who are brave. Ranger pours a very clear, deep golden color with a moderate amount of off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The aromatics of this beer are vibrant and are perhaps its greatest feature. Pleasant but almost abrasive resinous piney smells from Simcoe hops fade into a softer tropical fruit sensation. Cascade (the hop that made Sierra Nevada famous) and Chinook hops impart this grapefruit/pineapple presence that is enhanced by additional dry-hopping with Cascade.

The first sip is surprising. Initially, the beer is light on the palate, Pale and Dark Caramel malts make themselves known but don’t overwhelm, but then the dry, grapefruit pith-like bitterness explodes and lingers long after swallowing. This definitely is a West Coast-style IPA, and it’s certainly not for everyone but, like the rest of the New Belgium line, it’s undeniably worth a try.

Sam Fitz is a Certified Cicerone® and the Beer Director at Meridian Pint and soon to open Smoke & Barrel.

32 Comment

  • Dig the new feature. And the Ranger.

  • I HIGHLY approve of this new feature.

  • Unreal new feature. I also like how beer beat wine to PoP feature status.

  • i really like this feature too but posting photos of a delicious beer at 12:30 is a little cruel for those of us trapped in cubicle farms!

  • The consensus on the twitters linking to this post seems to be that we need to teach PoP how to brew his own beer. That’ll wean you off the fizzy yellow stuff real quick.

  • This is great, Thank POP and Sam.

  • I’d like Sam to stop stacking his Meridian Pint beer list with 75% ales and pale ales. Hops are getting really boring.

    • austindc

      Yeah but there are hundreds of ales that aren’t overly hoppy and many craft brewers primarily do ales and very few lagers.

    • Ale sells better, generally, which is probably why as a business he has so much of it. If you want to see more non-ale beers, go in and drink yourself silly on porters and lagers.

      • austindc

        Well, I believe lagers make up about 95% of beer sales worldwide. Ales probably just sell better at Meridian Pint. Also, I believe one would classify porter as a type of ale, though the beer experts out there may correct me.

        • claire

          Correct. Porters are a type of ale. The difference between ales and lagers are the yeast (ale yeast is active at room temperature, lager yeast works in colder conditions). Lagers include pilsners, dunkels, and bocks. Ales encompass most craft beers you’ll see (because they’re easier to brew, not requiring a refrigerator) – IPAs, ambers, porters, stouts, saisons, tripels, etc. Though I believe Jimmy Crack Corn was referring to IPAs, pale ales, and amber ales, not all ales.

    • agreed. though I had a nice kolsch at MP recently which was welcome.

    • I’d like Sam to keep doing exactly what he’s doing. I usually find more beers I’m excited to drink out of Meridian’s 26 taps than Churchkey’s 55. Great Work, Sir! Keep this feature!

  • Like the new feature.

    Regarding this post, I’m having some IPA fatigue. I like IPAs, actually a lot, but the hops overload in American beers is getting out of hand.

    • Love the feature. On the other hand, I’ve actually started eating handfuls of hops as an afternoon snack and can’t get enough of them…… (I kid, but I do like me some hops)

    • agreed.

      100% agreed. I can barely stand most american beers because of the over-hoppyness of the beers.

  • claire

    Love the new feature! I’m a big beer lover (and homebrewer) myself – actually have a part-time job giving out beer samples too!

    Here’s what I want to know though: Where can I find the New Belgium Lips of Faith series beers? I heard they’ll be at Whole Foods around here – can anyone verify?

  • austindc

    Wow, I love this new feature! I will be checking it out regularly.

    Also, had the Ranger IPA out in Colorado a few times. I liked it pretty well. I might pick up a six pack and see how it compares to my new favorites in the mid-Atlantic.

  • Lips of Faith Clutch & Kick will be available citywide, including at the Pint tonight for 25% off.

    • claire

      Thanks for the info! Unfortunately, having an open house to pick a new roommate tonight . . . but maybe I’ll be able to make it out afterwards . . .

  • Good stuff, the Ranger IPA (but I’m partial to the piney/resiney overload found in the good west coast IPAs). I definitely agree with the above-poster’s complaint about American brewers’ recent obsession with seeing how many hops they can squeeze into an IPA (or even Pale Ales, I had one the other day that stripped the buds off my toungue). Hops are great…but even better with balanced flavors.

  • Genius new feature. Can we make it like three a day?

    Whole Foods keeps stocking new beers faster than I can drink them.

  • Welcome to DC Fat Tire, Let the great Fat Tire sycophancy begin! ! !

  • Last night I bought a Sierra Nevada “Best of Beer Camp” 12 pack. I’ve only tried two of the four in it. I’m leaving work early today and should be sipping on one by 3:00.

  • andy

    This is a great feature!

  • with all the super IPAs out there now 70 IBUs is pretty tame

Comments are closed.