Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA (4/10)

Those of you who know me, or have been reading this blog a while, are probably saying “Wait, he’s actually reviewing an Imperial IPA?  He’s actually drinking an Imperial IPA?  What gives?”

Well, this is “New Belgium Week” on Columbus Beer Scene.  The Fort Collins brewer has been kind enough to bring its products to us, so I’m going to give seven of them a write-up this week.  I received this beer as part of a gift pack back in September.  But you need to know up front that I really don’t care for IPAs.  Too many of them are all about cramming hops in a bottle with little concern for what else is in there.  If that’s your thing, that’s fine with me.  It’s not mine.  I prefer a smoother, easier-drinking, more complex flavor profile.  That said, let’s begin.

The beer pours a clear amber with a two-finger-thick head of whipped cream like white foam. 

The aroma is undeniably hoppy, with a strong pine element to it.  I also get some grapefruit.  As with most IPAs, that’s all I really get in the aroma.  If you can smell the malt or anything else, your nose is better than mine… or maybe I’m just allergic to hops?

The flavor is less hoppy than the aroma would indicate.  That’s not to say it’s not a hoppy beer.  It is.  It clocks in at 85 IBUs, which is pretty bitter.  Still, it’s no Stone Ruination (100+ IBUs).  If I was asked to estimate the IBUs on this one, I’d clock it in a bit lower, maybe at a 70.  On the other hand, this is a 90-day-old bottle of Rampant, so maybe it’s mellowed a bit.  Or maybe my hops tolerance is a little higher.  Beer Advocate’s reviewers described it as a “hop bomb” – which you can take for what you will.  For me, it’s an indication that I’m probably not the target market for Rampant.
Like any other IPA, there isn’t much to the flavor of this, at least for me.  There’s a hint of citrus, a lot of pine, and only the barest notion of malt being a part of the beer.  And no, I don’t particularly like it any more than I do any other IPA.  The lack of much complexity in the flavor combined with the sledgehammer approach to hops just doesn’t work for me.  I love you, New Belgium, but I don’t love this beer.  Your Trippel is good.  Your Abbey double rocks.  Your Cascara Quad, I absolutely adore.  But Rampant… this is simply not a beer for me. 

Beer Advocate doesn’t love it, either, giving it only an 84 out of 100 or “good” rating.  Rate Beer loves it a bit more, offering up a 92 out of 100 rating.  For me, it’s just another IPA, and those don’t rate well with me.  I give it only a 4 out of 10, which means in my world, I’d rather drink a Budweiser, Miller, or Coors product. 

This beer isn’t available in Ohio, yet.  You’ll have to travel outside our fair state to pick up a bottle.  Their Ranger IPA is in stores now, and sells (at least this week) for $2.99 for a 22-ounce “bomber” bottle.  Personally, I prefer the Trippel, which is also $2.99 a bottle.  Those beers can be found at Kenny Road Market, Giant Eagle stores, Ale Wine and Spirits in Powell, and probably many other local retailers.

Flavor Profile:
Sweet, Malty, Dry, or Bitter:  Bitter
Spice Level  None
Hops Level:   High
Dominant Flavors:  Pine and grapefruit hops
ABV: 8%
IBU:  85
My Rating:  4/10

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