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Belt's Beer Garden: David vs Goliath

This week we review beers from a small microbrewery and a worldwide powerhouse.

If Goliath was a beer company...Guinness would be a good representation for him, as they are well known and distribute beer worldwide. There are so many craft beer "David"s though...but this week, I found one from the #MAClands of Michigan to take on the giant.

First up, the little guy: Odd Side Ales.

Dave: I love to find beers and breweries I've never heard of. And that 's exactly the case here, as I tried Odd Side Ales for the first time ever...and (spoiler!) they made quite an impact!

citra pale

As I said above, I had never heard of Odd Side Ales before my friend came back from Michigan with a few bottles of their beer. They call Grand Haven, Michigan home and have been brewing since 2010. They are only available in their home state for now, but hopefully they'll get a larger distribution soon.

Their Citra Pale Ale pours a cloudy dark orange, almost amber, color with just a dusting of head topping the beer.

The aroma of sweet, juicy citrus and tropical fruits filled the glass. On my nose I got tons of mangos and grapefruits in this beer. There was also a nice malt backing, with very little hop presence in the aroma. This beer smells delicious! Even before I tasted it, I had a strong feeling I was going to really like this beer.

But would the taste live up to the smell? In a word: YES!

There's a mild carbonation and hop tingle to start but that quickly fades into the awesome flavors the beer's aroma gave off. The mango and grapefruit dominated my palate on the backend. And, unlike some beers that can leave a sticky feeling in your mouth from all that sweet flavoring, Citra Pale Ale doesn't do that. The flavors linger for a moment on your tongue then fade. No smacking your mouth to clear a sticky residue.

This beer is on the dry side, so you might need another sip to get your mouth wet again...but that's a really small price to pay for such an awesome flavor.

And, just like in the aroma, the malts are more present than the hops, making this a very smooth, with almost no bitterness (IBU rating is only 35), so everyone can enjoy it.

To go with the great taste is a great price: a 12 ounce bottle is only $1.85! And, at only 5.75% ABV, it's quite sessionable...so load up with a six-pack for just $10.99! You can't beat that!

I'm really glad my friend found this beer for me. It's one of my new favorites and I know I'll be looking for it again. If you live in Odd Side's distribution area, you need to try this beer. In fact, I'm going to do something I rarely do...I'm going to give this beer a rating that only two other beers have gotten from me (Pliny the Elder and The Charlatan). 9.5/10

9.5

Next up, Carter reviews a new style from an old classic; Guinness Blonde:

Carter: I'm not usually much of a Guinness drinker but a co-worker of mine is and, for whatever reason, he got a few of these. I don't know what exactly possessed Guinness to think that fans of their Irish stout "meal-in-a-can" would go for a blonde-style American lager just because the brand is the same. Apparently in this case it sort-of worked, because he bought them.

IMAG2208.jpg

The first whiff as I pour is extremely floral. It looked dark in the bottle, but it seems to just be a dark bottle, because it is a light-colored beer once it's in a clear glass. Giving it a closer nose, it has the sweet, malty odor characteristic of the style.

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It was actually lighter than it looks in this photo.

Alrighty, time to dive in for my first sip, and...not much there. I can tell what style they're going for, and I guess it fits, but compared to some of the Midwestern blondes I've enjoyed (Strawberry Blonde by Arbor Brewing Company and Blonde Bombshell by Indigo Imp come to mind), it just doesn't have much flavor. Not bad, but not particularly good either.

After closer examination of the bottle, I see that this is an American-style beer, brewed and bottled by a Wisconsin company operating in Pennsylvania, using hops varieties from Washington. As far as I can tell, the only things Guinness provided are the name and the yeast. I'm wondering now if this was some kind of brand extension cooked up by parent company Diageo. Whatever the source of the idea, I'll pass on seconds.

I'd drink it again if I were somewhere with a very limited selection, but there are many, many better beers. Don't know what it cost because it was a gift, but I wouldn't recommend actually paying for it unless you have no good alternatives. 6/10

6 beers