Has New Belgium become the Toyota of Beers?


Posted Sun, Mar 14, 2010

A Ranger IPA bottle awaits someone to open it and enjoy its taste, a new offering by New Belgium Brewery from Fort Collins, CO.

FORT COLLINS, COLO. – Anyone who knows about beer drinking in America and the micro-brewery explosion of the 1990s, could tell you that a small northern Colorado brewer named Jeff Lebesch not only helped pioneer a new industry – he also ushered in a new way of making beer.

The name New Belgium is synonymous with the term ‘craft-brewery,’ and as of late, has expanded its libation offerings with the most recent addition, Ranger IPA.

It all started with a younger version of Lebesch, now 53, touring Belgian villages by bike in 1989 where he tasted, sampled and lavished in the fermented suds of the old world. Taking ideas and ingredients from his time in Europe, Lebesch crafted two basement-brewed beers when he returned state-side, a brown dubbel which became Abbey and an amber known as Fat Tire.

At the beginning, Lebesch and his wife Kim were up and running with 3,300 cases produced by the end of 1991. By 1992, they had a place of business other than the basement and by 1995 had a brand new brewery cranking out 57,000 barrels of beer yearly.

More and more beers appeared in the New Belgium arsenal as the 1990s progressed. As the 2000s approached, seasonal varieties became a tradition with offerings such as Frambozen, Skinny Dip and 2-Below.

The newest addition, Ranger IPA, only adds to the brewery’s distinguished quiver of interesting and unique beers. It is, however, the brewery’s first time making a non-Belgian style beer, which has led some beer drinkers skeptical at the greatness new Belgium could brew into a style they don’t make.

One gentleman, Stephen Jaworowski, a patron of Argonaut Liquor Store expressed this about the new creation.

“New Belgium has been making good beers for a long time now, but with this new one, I mean I like IPAs, but really?” he said.

Argonaut Liquor employees also expressed their distaste for the new beer, which is in honor of the Beer Rangers, a job title carried by those New Belgium employees whose mission is to promote the breweries beers.

“Your really gonna buy that?” said one employee to Jaworoski as he was checking out.

One web site, www.Thenewschoolbrewblog.blogspot.com, did a private review with three tasters on hand to express their likes and dislikes for the new brew.

Reviewer one, named Samurai artist, commented that the body and mouth-feel was light but not too watery. The hops tasted very green and the bitterness stuck around.

However, the beer reminding him a lot of another IPA, which he felt was only middle of the road.

On the contrary, a customer service associate from Argonaut said that the beer is actually doing quite well and moving off the shelves with good frequency. The brewery has done a couple of promotions with the liquor store and says people are buying the new brew rather regularly.

Furthermore, a spokeswoman at New Belgium said that the brewery was receiving very positive reviews of the IPA introduction and that it is doing well since the release in February.

No data from New Belgium was available about the number of barrels being produced nor sales figures from the Ranger IPA.

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One Response to “Has New Belgium become the Toyota of Beers?”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    A comprehensive story. Good facts, and relevant to the Colorado business community.


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