For this installment, I wanted to step out of the Chicagoland area yet again. Michigan is one of the largest beer producers out there and, naturally, I have to try them all.
Up first, a brand that's making its fourth appearance on BBG: Short's.
Short's has been one of the most reviewed breweries on Belt's Beer Garden...but never by me. In case you don't know by now, Short's is from Bellaire, Michigan and began way back in 2002 but didn't start making beers until 2004. Since then they've expanded a ton by opening a new branch in Elk Rapids in 2009 and renovating their old building in 2010. Currently though, they are still only available in Michigan...but that has to change soon...right?
Regardless, when my friend came back from Michigan with a few of their beers for me to try, I figured I'd review one of their beers since I've never had any in my possession before. I debated for a while between the three I had but finally settled on MMMKay.
MMMkay is an "India style pale lager" and pours a hazy straw color with just about a finger of head that disperses rather quickly to just a mere dusting around the edge of the glass. There is a strong aroma of hops with a solid citrus backing and a hint, just a hint, of nuts and pine.
On my first sip the citrus made itself present, as guava, mangos, and some pineapple flavors hit my tongue. After the citrus, the piney/nutty flavors and malt hit you on the back end and linger for a while.
The hops also make themselves known on the backend as well, showing up in the piney flavors. At 85 IBU, this is probably one of the more bitter lagers you'll find.
MMMkay is rather dry but doesn't have much carbonation to it at all - which would explain why the little amount of head that was left barely laces the glass as I continue to drink.
To me, the short citrus burst doesn't last as long as I would have liked (we all know I love citrusy beers) before the nutty flavor took command. It's a smooth, solid beer; but flavor-wise, it's not something I would drink over and over again.
At just 5% ABV and only $1.85 for a bottle ($10.99 for a six-pack), it's not going to break your bank or get you messed up. It's right in the middle...nothing too fancy. Just a solid beer. 7.5/10
Next I try my first ever beer from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales opened its doors way back in 2004. They call Dexter, Michigan, home - which is right in between Ann Arbor and Hell. You can find their beers across the country, including the entire #MAClands, most of the West Coast, and regionally across the East Coast.
Luciérnaga is a Belgian pale ale made with coriander, grains of paradise, and is, sadly, is a seasonal beer. Even though that season (summer) has now passed, and this beer will be hard to find, I wanted to get this out there so you can plan accordingly for next year.
The beer pours a clear, amber color with a mountain of foam that continues to grow atop the brew for quite a while before slowly dissipating. The thick, white head built its way upwards of four fingers, as you can see in the picture above.
When the foam finally faded away enough, and it took quite some time, I was at last able to taste and smell this artisan beer. There was a nice aroma of coriander and spices with a backing of lemons and citrus. It smelled a little sour as well, almost like a gose beer.
The taste didn't differ from the smell too much. The coriander and grains of paradise showed themselves early on in the sip before the sour lemons came through on the backend. The beer didn't taste nearly as carbonated as it would appear to be and was rather smooth to drink - not too spicy, not too sour.
It's light and crisp, yet rather dry on your palate. There's a slight bitterness to it but mostly it's the yeast and bready malts that are noticeable. It's a really well balanced beer. The 6.5% ABV is hidden really well behind all the spices and citrus, making it really easy to drink the whole bottle by yourself should you chose to...and it's quite a large bottle (500 mL).
As I said, Luciérnaga is the first ever Jolly Pumpkin beer I've ever had...and at $14.99 for the 25.4 ounce bottle, it was also one of the most expensive beers I've ever purchased as well.
Overall it was a really well made Belgian pale ale. Spicy, tart, and smooth...all you could ask for. There were just two problems with it - first, there was so much head with every pour that I had to wait like TWO whole minutes before I could drink it...I know head is really important when it comes to beer, but I'm kind of impatient!
Secondly, it does cost a pretty penny. That means, as this review might come a little too late for you to get this beer this year, you should start saving up for it now so you can get it early next year. 8/10