New Belgium "Voodoo Ranger" Imperial Black IPA

Oooo! Look at you! You're all dark and foreboding and crap. Well, this probably inspires a lot of people to try this beer. I guess you do have to set yourself apart when you're just in a cooler with all the other beers, but this really smacks of trying too hard. On the other end of the scale, Bearded Iris tends to make their cans a little too bland for my taste, but their beers are a totally different story. Let's see what this beer is like.

It says "black" on the label, and I can attest to it being close enough to black that I'll give the very, very dark ruby red beer a mulligan. There's not much head going on, and that is unusual for an IPA, but the color is also unusual, so this is going to be different than most of the IPAs that have graced these pages. The consequently unmuffled aroma of light molasses, earth, and toasted grains is a lot more malty than an IPA has a right to be, but there I go comparing this to a standard IPA again. It's been too long since I had the last Black IPA, I think.

First sip is thick, sweet, and rich. The roasted malts are combined with oatmeal, molasses, earth, dark fruits, and raisins. I'm not sure how many beers I have tasted raisins in, but I'm pretty sure the number of IPAs with that flavor can be counted on one hand. Actually, I can't think of a single one - it's usually a Belgian Ale kind of thing.

Tip-in is firey carbonation and a hitherto untasted tartness accompanied by smokey, lightly charred oatmeal and toasted bread. The middle stretches into the molasses and dark fruits with the smoke trailing just behind and the carbonation letting off just a little. The finish is an uprising of bitterness and a hint of coffee in the trail off.

Bottom Line: It's different. And it's pretty good.



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