Well guys, it's finally happened. Belt's Beer Garden has been around for a full year now! Who would have thought what I began 365 days ago would still be going strong with reviews from Carter Adler, Norman Miller, and even our head-honcho Alex Alvarado.
But we're not just celebrating one year of beer reviews today...we're also doing our 100th beer review! That's right, so far we've reviewed 97 different beers from 68 different breweries and today we have three more reviews from two new breweries...which brings our total to 100 brews and 70 different breweries!
First up, another review from the man in charge. Here's Alex Alvarado's review of Arbor Brewing Co.'s Buzzsaw IPA.
Like a lot of 20-something year olds, I've had my fair share of India Pale Ales. I went to hangout with some friends back in Ypsilanti the other night and decided to try this one out because it was one of the very few beers that I haven't tried that the liquor store was selling at the time. That...and we were eating Mexican food.
I'd like to tell you that this is a great beer, but it's only fine if we're being honest. It definitely has a certain bitterness to it, with 51 IBU, and an adequate malt taste.
Actually, it's a little bit more hoppy than malty, which I prefer. The aftertaste doesn't sting, which is something that I think a lot of people that are new to drinking IPAs just have to get used to. The finish is dry, but it all goes down smoothly.
I would get this again. I know the microbrewery in Ypsilanti has this available, the pub in Ann Arbor probably should too, and I was able to get a 6-pack of this for around $13. If I'm visiting either place again, I might get this a second time.
This honestly wouldn't be my first choice...but I'd also consider bringing a 6-pack of this to a barbecue or something where there's a social gathering and food would be involved.
I could definitely see this going well with a burger or a pizza or just really anything you'd expect to fuse well with an IPA. Like I said though, I had this with Mexican just the other day...and gained six pounds because of it. 7/10
Next up, Carter Adler is back for the 99th review. He chose a nationally available beer, with Samuel Adam's Fat Jack.
It's October, so it must be time to put pumpkin in everything, and the beer is apparently not excluded.
Smelling it, I didn't really get any pumpkin, but what I did get was a delightful ale odor, warm and sweet with no bitterness.
Diving into the drink, the overwhelming flavor was...beer. Let me be clear: I mean that in a good way. This was a deliciously refreshing fall beer, warming my mouth and throat delightfully. Examining the label, the "special ingredients" listed are pumpkin ("real pumpkin", in fact), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
To me the dominant flavors are ginger and nutmeg (it's the ginger plus the 8.5% ABV that gave me the warming sensation). I believe the Boston Beer Company when they say they put real pumpkin in it but, other than the general sweetness, I just didn't taste it.
On the whole this is a fine beer for fall and winter. The sweetness, the spices, and the general warmth make it well-suited for drinking on a cold evening -- or a cold afternoon watching football.
There are better such beers, but you may have to go out of your way to find them. For a nationally distributed beer, this one is a winner. At $7 for a 22 ounce bomber at the store, it's not cheap (at least, not around here), but it's good enough that I'd get it again. 8.5/10
Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for...the 100th review on Belt's Beer Garden!
For Belt's Beer Garden's 100th beer review I wanted to do something special; like a beer from a brewery we haven't seen before or a limited edition brew. Well, I found both of those in Almanac's Farmer's Reserve Citrus.
Almanac Beer Company opened back in 2010 in San Jose, California. They are only available in California, Colorado, Washington, and New York but have recently expanded to the Chicagoland area too. I was able to grab a few of their beers but it was their Farmer's Reserve Citrus that really caught my eye.
This sour ale is brewed with Buddha's Hand citron, blood oranges, and yuzu and then it's aged in wine barrels. The label tells me that this beer was bottled just a few months ago in June. When poured, the cloudy straw colored brew barely has any head topping it, just a fine dusting along the edge of the glass.
Its aroma is rather subdued, but is a sour-smelling blend of tangy blood oranges, the yuzu, and other citrus notes.
Upon the first sip, there is a burst of sour oranges combined with a bunch of bubbles from the carbonation that quickly fizzes from your tongue. It's a pretty intense sour but only for a flash, as it's gone as quickly as it comes. The yuzu and Buddha's hand are the dominant flavors with the blood oranges taking a backseat.
There is a slight sticky-sour flavor that lingers on the back of your tongue for a bit after each sip. But, for me, it's almost like a reminder of my childhood. This beer is almost exactly like eating a yellow Warhead. It has the same flavor and lingering sour notes as the candy I used to love.
And every sip is like popping another Warhead into my mouth...but better! Farmer's Reserve Citrus has a 7% ABV, something no candy has. The negative; Warheads are a lot cheaper whereas the 12.68 ounce bottle (375 mL) cost me $10.99.
Overall, this was a really good sour beer. Even though it's initially pretty sour, Farmer's Reserve Citrus is still rather smooth on the backend and has great flavors coming out of it. The quality is definitely there but it's still a tad overpriced...8/10
A few stats from our first 100 reviews...Pipeworks from Chicago leads the way, with four of their beers being reviewed. Arcade, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Short's, Smuttynose, and Three Floyd's are all tied for second with three.
The highest overall rated beer (with at least two contributors reviewing it) is Pliny the Elder from Russian River, with a rating of 9.5 from myself and 9.25 from Norman. Second is Three Floyd's Zombie Dust, with a rating of 8.5 from me and 9.5 from Norm.
Let us know if you have any beers that you think we should reviewed.
We look forward to the next 100 beers!!