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Belt's Beer Garden: Double Fisting

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We're back bringing you two new selections from the world of craft beer.

"I'm gaining weight the right way: I'm drinking beer" - Johnny Damon
"I'm gaining weight the right way: I'm drinking beer" - Johnny Damon

Once more I was left to double fist the beer reviews and again I gladly accepted the challenge. But this week something major happened - I found my new favorite beer and I couldn't wait to share it with the rest of you. This is a huge moment in my life (man, I wish that was sarcasm)! Come celebrate with me by drinking one of these two beers.

First up, the beer I've labeled as my new favorite: The Charlatan by Mercenary Brewing.

charlatan

Mercenary Brewery and Distillery is located in the Logan Square area of Chicago, Illinois. There's not a whole lot of info on their website, so I'm not even sure if they distribute outside of Chicago or how long they have been open. I do know that it was started by two lifelong friends who began making beer together eight years ago...and that's about it. So why am I featuring this beer?

Because as soon as I opened the bottle, I knew I wanted to drink it. I was immediately hit with a beautiful tropical aroma with just a slight hint of hops in the background. When you pour The Charlatan, it is a golden copper color with only a dusting of foam on top. With my first sip, you could taste the citrus and grapefruit straightaway with a slight bitterness lingering for a moment or two after. But at only 35 IBU, it isn't very bitter at all, just rather dry. There is not much malt taste to it, it's almost all citrus and hops, which to me is sheer perfection.

My suspicion of it being delicious was confirmed, and I quickly regretted only buying one bottle. At $6.99 for 22 ounces it isn't the cheapest, it isn't ridiculous, but (to me at least) it is worth every cent. It's not a beer that will knock you out, as it's just 5.9% ABV, but it is a beer you'll want to enjoy over and over and over - maybe even multiple times in one night...that's your call (and my plan). I didn't originally plan to use this as Beer Garden piece because the distribution is so small but, after tasting it, I decided I wanted to let the internet know how good this beer was. As I said, it is one of my new favorites and you should try it if you get the chance. I give it 9.5.

9.5

The other beer I tried this week is almost just as good but much more widely available  - as it is from Stone.

cali-belg

Stone Brewing Company is out of Escondido, California but can be found just about everywhere in the US - here is a handy locator to find the closest place that sells their wonderful beers. Founded in 1996, they are known for their abundant of use hops and brew mostly IPAs and other stronger ales. They began brewing Cali-Belgique back in 2008.

This Belgian IPA clocks in at 6.9% ABV and pours a cloudy golden color with just under two fingers of head. At first sniff it smells strongly of pine with hints of citrus, but the smell seems to fade the more it sits. Drinking Cali-Belgique is rather easy, as it is very smooth and, at 77 IBU, it's not terribly hoppy. There is that Belgian sour taste that follows the beer, but that's to be expected with this combination, and it doesn't last long.

Stone used some simple math to bring us this rather tasty beer: $5.99 for a 22 ounce bomber of two-thirds Stone IPA, one-third Belgian Ale. And, as Stone is another one of my favorites (everything they do is great), it's a combination that really works. It's like the running combination NIU had last season - Lynch being the IPA and Stingily being the Belgian part - it just worked so well together that you didn't want it to end! I give it an 8.5!

8.5