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Belt's Beer Garden: It Ale Comes Down to This

With the MAC Championship game just moments away, here's the beers you should go get before the game starts. Hurry up!

"There is no such thing as a bad beer. It's that some taste better than others." - Jimmy Carter
"There is no such thing as a bad beer. It's that some taste better than others." - Jimmy Carter

Well, another season is in the books and again we have the Huskies and Falcons in the Championship game. To celebrate this occasion we drank beers from no where near DeKalb or Bowling Green. This time it was for...well, the same reason we do it every week - fun.

Norm and I will breakdown beers from Ballast Point and a relatively unknown brewery in Against the Grain. To start, here's Norm and his review of Tongue Buckler.

tongue buckler

Norm: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout was released on Black Friday. It took waiting in a line 100 people deep to get some.  But it was well worth it. I'm sure that's what the people who actually waited in that line are telling them selves.  I am not one of those people.

I decided to stay festive and pick up something with Christmas in mind. Christmas colored anyways...a red imperial ale by Ballast Point called Tongue Buckler.

The name should be a bit of a give away that this beer packs a powerful punch - bitter, hoppy, malty, and boozy. At 10% ABV, you need strong flavors for masking that much alcohol.

It pours to a deep amber, semi translucent color with a good two fingers of head. A Flowing stream of tiny bubbles roll up quickly and then disappear leaving a very nice lacing. The smell is mostly that of hops and malt. Sort of in the vein of an english ale.  A slight whiff of citrus as well. Nothing really to indicate the strength of the flavor coming next.

It's not that this beer is overwhelming in its flavor. It's just pretty bold in three obvious ways. It's bitter. It's sweet. And it's malty. Usually I'm not a fan of the bready, malt flavor. But with just enough hops added, I found them to be palatable here.

There's a nice caramel sweetness as well as some pine hop bitter. All of these bold flavors are doing their best to hide the 10% ABV from you. And they do a pretty good job of that. You will notice that alcohol burn at the end, but it's not nearly as bad as I've had in other beers at the same ABV.

Overall this was an interesting and bold beer. If you are looking for something to sort of wake up your mouth, I would say Tongue Buckler can do just that. I give it a seven.

7 beers 2

This week, I found something relatively new to the Chicago scene, but hopefully you can find them near you too.

citra ass down


Against the Grain is located inside Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky according to their website. However, the bottle claims they are from Westminster, I'm not sure where they are from, how long they have been around, or how they started. I can tell you that it's run by four guys who love joking and thinking up great names for beers (such as Polish Joak, David Lee Froth, and Kentucky Ryed Chiquen).

This double IPA is just as advertised. Citra Ass Down has a strong citrus aroma when opened and pours a cloudy gold color with barely any head. At first sip, you get a malt flavor leading the way but that quickly fades in to the citrus and hops that you'd expect. At 68 IBU, there is a lingering bitterness, like that of an orange rind but it doesn't last too long. It's a rather smooth beer, outside of the bitterness, and not too dry or too sweet. The beer clocks in at 8.2% ABV, so it's not one to mess around with, it'll hit you eventually. But until it does, drink up!

It's higher up on the price list, at $10.99 for a 22 ounce bomber and, I must confess, I originally bought it because it has one of the best beer names I've encountered (plus I like Citra hops). Despite the price, it's a solid DIPA and if I could find it again cheaper, I'd absolutely buy another bottle. It's not outstanding, but it is definitely a good double IPA. I give it an eight.

8 beers