After leaving the drinking to me last week, both my co-writers have once again joined me in the pursuit of beer. So with out further ado, let the beers flow.
First up, I reviewed a fresh-hopped beer from Oregon in Deschutes Chasin' Freshies.
Deschutes Brewery was established in Bend, Oregon way back in 1988. They get their name from the river the brewery overlooks. They have gained significant attention for their many great beers, but seem to focus their distribution on the western side of the Mississippi River. You can find them in most MAC states however, as they are available in Illinois, Ohio, and some parts of Michigan. Here's the link to see if you can find them.
This is another fresh hop IPA, which takes hops from vine to kettle in an incredibly short amount of time to increase the flavor. For the 2014 version, Deschutes is using Mosaic hops. When pouring Chasin' Freshies, it's a light, cloudy, copper color and has almost no head whatsoever, but it was rather potent. Immediately you could smell the hops and some citrus and pine. At first sip, there is a rush of bitterness that subsides quickly. The citrus, and whatever malts there are, take a backseat to the hops. At the very end, you get a taste of the alcohol peeking through and, at 7.4% ABV, that's to be expected. As you drink, the beer shows you the progress you're making by leaves a steady stream of lacing down the glass.
At only 65 IBU, this beer tastes more bitter than it is listed but it is still a rather tasty IPA. It will only set you back $5.99 for a 22 ounce bomber of this beer, so if you can find it, try it. It wont last much longer, as they only distribute it October through December - just like weekday #MACtion (coincidence?! Probably). Overall, it's a nice, crisp IPA but not outstanding. I give it an eight.
Carter decided to mix things up and sampled a witbier from Avery Brewing Company.
Carter: This week I tried out Avery White Rascal, a year-round offering from Avery Brewing Company, located in Boulder, Colorado. White Rascal is an unfiltered Belgian witbier with 5.6% alcohol by volume and just 22 IBU, which might as well be 0 for an IPA drinker like me. I'm not usually a big fan of the Belgian-style wheat beers, but I was in the mood for something a bit different and figured I'd give this one a try.
On first impression, you can definitely tell that this beer has not been filtered. Although it's lightly colored -- about the color of pineapple juice -- it's extremely cloudy (again, not unlike pineapple juice). The nice solid head makes it easy to smell this beer, which has a strong yet delicate smell of spices and orange peel. It's listed as having coriander, a common spice for a witbier, and although that's not a spice I'm really familiar with, it certainly could be what I got a whiff of. Whatever the spice, it's a pleasant aroma. On tasting the beer, I picked up more of the spice influence and almost lost the hint of orange that was so present in the smell. The mouth feel is creamier than you'd expect from a Belgian White, but still light.
On the whole, even though they brew and sell it year-round, this tastes like a holiday beer. Unlike most "holiday" beers however, I'm not using the word here as a euphemism for Christmas, but rather Thanksgiving. This would be a great drink for watching an NFL game while recovering from your turkey dinner, and would go perfectly the next day with some Black Friday MACtion. It would also go well with spicy foods such as curry, pad Thai, or a salsa with a good kick. In fact, I'm going to make a Thanksgiving fusion suggestion just to pair with this beer: turkey pad Thai. Just think about it.
White Rascal comes in bottles, cans, cases, and kegs. I tried it on tap at a bar, where a pint was $4.50, with 22 ounces costing $5.75, based on which I'd guess you could find a six-pack of bottles in most of MAC country for about $11. I'm not normally a big Belgian fan, but I'll give this one seven. It's possible that if you're a witbier drinker you might rate this lower for the uncharacteristic creaminess, but I liked it pretty well.
Finally, Norm tried a beer that wont last long on the shelves - if they still have it at all.
Norm: In reviewing my second beer for the Belt's Beer Garden, I've decided to deviate a little from my normal beer passion, IPA's. I've gone way, way out on a limb here and have challenged my beer palette with something a bit different, an APA. I know, it's basically the same thing, right? Pretty much. To compare it to, say coffee, it's like a cup of Pikes vs. a cup of Dark Roast from Starbucks. They're both coffee, but one has a touch more bite.
The beer I'm reviewing is from that wonderful west coast, but now also Chicago based, brewer Lagunitas. As far as Lagunitas IPA's go, they're top notch. Hop Stoopid, Sucks, Maximus, A little Sumpin' Extra, Double Dry Hopped. The list goes on and on. All of them are excellent IPA's. World class even.
I guess when they feel like toning their IPA's down a notch, or maybe when they run low on hops, they put out a few APA's. The best of which is called Born Yesterday. This is a limited release American pale ale that came out last week. If you're lucky, you may be able to find some at your liquor store depending on when they received it. Last week at my local Binny's it was not on display, but I had to ask for a sixer from the back room. It had just come in and was on a "for those who know, ask" sort of deal. It pays to chat up your liquor store employees for this very reason.
Once I took this treasure home, it did little to disappoint. I could see it was different from an IPA the moment I poured one. It filled my glass with a clear yellow-orange, and had only a slight haze. Light filtered through it easily. Not the cloudiness of it's stronger relative. Letting you know immediately that this was going to go down a little smoother.
The aroma was mostly citrus notes, sweet orange and grapefruit. A very tropical whiff for the nose. Not overwhelming at all, but more so refreshing. A slight dankness is noticeable along with the obvious hops. A good balance exists here between the two.
The taste anticipation from that aroma was quickly, and happily, realized. You are expecting an initial burst of citrus flavor, and that's what you get. Sweet and tropical dominates your first taste. It's followed by a pine and hop bitterness on the backside. Not very bitter, but enough to let you know that, hey, I'm still a pale ale ya know.
Overall this is just a great beer. It tight ropes the line between an IPA and an APA, with some of the best qualities of each. The alcohol is still slightly higher, at 7.5%, but nothing to stop you from enjoying a few of these beauties. It's a beer I really hope Lagunitas puts out with more regularity. I highly recommend you try to find some of it before it's all gone.
One last thing. Lagunitas was founded by Northern Illinois University alum Tony Magee. So for all the other MAC fans, remember, every time you have a Lagunitas, you're putting a little of the Huskies inside of you. ENJOY!