Black IPAs might’ve been a hot trend of the late 2000s, but in today’s haze-crazed world, they don’t get much love. Industry veteran New Belgium Brewing, however, begs to differ with the release of Voodoo Ranger Imperial Black IPA. A bold, big beer at 10% ABV, it’s a well-balanced IPA that will leave you questioning why you don’t drink black IPAs more often.
New Belgium sets the stage for this new Voodoo Ranger series release with a simple matte black, silver, and bronze color scheme on the beer’s packaging and 16-ounce cans. Coming out of the can, the beer pours an slightly hazy coffee brown with a thick, light tan foam that persists well after serving. While the Imperial Black IPA name might imply this style should be dark as night, in reality beers in this category can range from dark brown to black.
There’s a lot going on in the aroma of this beer, so it took me a few moments to break it all down. Up front, a grassy, roasted malt character—like coffee—comes through. This is blended with subtle hints of dark chocolate and smoke.
New Belgium’s take on the black IPA style is aggressive, yet well-balanced.”
New Belgium gives the palate a veritable hop bomb with Voodoo Ranger’s Imperial Black IPA, which clocks in at 90 IBUs. At first sip, Weyerman and Carafa malts contribute a delicate sweetness which quickly leads into robust roast malt flavors and suggestions of dark cocoa. However, it is hop bitterness that ultimately takes the main stage, with heavy pine and herbal notes coming forward thanks to the Azacca, Centennial, and Columbus hops used in the recipe. For a big beer, this Voodoo Ranger iteration finishes dry, which I suspect is in part due to the added bitterness that roasted malts impart.
New Belgium’s take on the black IPA style is aggressive, yet well-balanced. Neither the malt nor the hops components overpower the other. Moreover, it is deceivingly smooth and finishes clean. It’s a beer that’s easy to appreciate, and if it ever becomes a regular member of New Belgium’s IPA lineup, it’s one that I’ll be drinking more often.