Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Belgium Rampant

A new beer approaches.

Rampant's official release date is March 4th, and here on March 2nd, it is being tasted, examined, and written about.  

Mosaic hops seem foreign. But Calypso and Centennial do not. And anticipation of this beer quickly becomes anxiousness.

So, let's dig in, and crack open a Rampant IPA.

Rampant Imperial India Pale Ale
8.5% ABV
85 IBUs

Rampant's tint is surprisingly pale.  The beer produces a thick, remarkably stable head.

Its color is slightly darker than wheat and mostly transparent.  Rampant blurs images from the opposite side of the glass, but only slightly. 

After a minute or two of patience, the head decreases to about half its height, but leaves plentiful lacing.  

Expecting a shade darker, the hue was of some surprise...

...Rampant's scent is not.  Some adjectives are common to IPAs: floral, piney, and even "dank."  Another one that is common, and certainly applies to Rampant, is citrusy. 

The aroma offers lemon and orange zest, and is about medium in strength

Rampant's mouthfeel is immediately noticeable for its thinness.  Carbonation is mild to the point of near non-existence and is especially benign for the style. 

The flavor profile is dominated by a lemon/lime quality.  It's very tart. Imagine the taste of a freshly squeezed lemon minus most of what induces puckering.  Such is presented to the palate by Rampant. 

A sour note does strike the back of the throat.   


New Belgium claims 85 IBUs.  While science makes for a hard opponent to argue, the bitterness seems to be missing here.  

Everything about this beer is subtle.  If Rampant does, in fact, consist of 85 IBUs, than Surly by Furious is off the charts.  

Given 8.5% ABV, Rampant is amazingly easy to drink.  It's wonderfully smooth. The modesty of this beer makes New Belgium's claims difficult to believe.  

85 IBUs? 8.5% ABV?  Really? 

Perhaps there may be some danger in that. The ease in which this beer goes down can only lead to the unassuming consumption of many, and to personal adventures thereafter.  Likely regrettable.  Actually, there is no doubt. 

New Belgium describes Rampant as an Imperial India Pale Ale.  "Imperial" may be a bit much.  This is average to decent as a regular IPA and totally underwhelming otherwise.  

There are so many great beers in the class.  Where to start?  Sculpin.  The aforementioned Surly.  Bell's Two Hearted.  Not to mention the standouts of the class offered by Drake's and Russian River.  

So, how does Rampant rank? 

Not very well.  It's easy to drink.  And, really, that's its fault.  Rampant leaves so very much to be desired.  "Imperial" invokes boldness.  Yet, Rampant is so very dull. 

Rampant is best described as "timid."  And nothing "Imperial" should be described as such. 

1.5 out of five stars.  And, given the plentiful IPA and richer Imperial IPA options, Rampant can not receive's recommendation. 


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