Belt's Beer Garden might focus on a lot of Chicago/Illinois based breweries, but I wanted to make sure other states get some love too. That's why this week Carter and I decided to bring you a dual review of Michigan brewery Founders Brewing Company.
Founder's is one of the larger craft breweries around. They call Grand Rapids, Michigan home and have been brewing "complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor" basically since they began back in 1997. Currently you can find them just about everywhere east of Texas and most places west too. If you're not sure if they're by you, just check this handy tool here.
I decided to go with their seasonal release, ReDANKulous.
This imperial red IPA pours an incredibly dark red, almost a brown color, with just under a finger of thick tan head that lingers atop the beer for a bit.
A strong aroma of citrus (specifically grapefruit, mango, and tangerine) and hops is emitted from the beer...and I, for one, was excited to dive into this.
My first sip was just as expected: there's a strong citrus flavor upfront along with some mild carbonation. Then the hops kick in, making a bitter statement that they are sure present. Finally, the citrus comes back on the tail end of the sip.
I will say this brew does end with an small alcohol burn (nothing crazy) that the citrus can't fully cover up, which doesn't really surprise me as ReDANKulous comes packed full of booze, carrying a 9.5% ABV.
ReDANKulous also carries with it a rating of 90 IBU which means it's pretty bitter and not for the timid. The hops sting your tongue with every sip before giving way to the other flavors. But, even with the high IBU, this beer could be worse. The caramel flavored malts and tropical fruit notes really cut down on the hop sting.
As I continue to drink, the thick head leaves some sticky lacing around the glass. It's not a lot, but definitely enough to mark each and every one of my sips.
This is a really solid Imperial IPA. The Caramalt and barley used make this darker than most imperial IPAs, but don't be fooled, this drinks just like most DIPAs. The Chinook, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops combined nicely to create a tropical, yet slightly piney flavor before they assault your tongue with their bitterness.
And yet, this is still quite a smooth beer to drink (as far as DIPAs go). At $9.99 for the 750 mL bottle it's a kind of expensive but definitely not overpriced. This is a quality beer from a very solid brewery. If you haven't gotten your bottle yet, you better act quickly because they won't last long. 8/10
Up next, Carter takes on their Spectra Trifecta.
Carter: On first whiff, this beer smelled pleasantly light and lemony. Unfortunately these days, referring to a beer as "lemony" requires some clarification. So, to be clear, when I say that this beer smelled lemony, don't think of a shandy and don't think of lemonade. Think of the flavor of actual lemons. Spectra Trifecta smells like Founders dumped a bunch of lemon juice into it.
The beer is a hazy golden orange color and pours with about a finger of foam topping it off. At 5.9% ABV and $9.99 for a six-pack, this beer is affordable and wont knock you down.
Tasting the beer, it's very refreshing and wholly different from what the smell led me to expect. The truth is that it's a Kölsch brewed with lemongrass (hence the smell) as well as ginger and chamomile. The ginger and chamomile were a nice surprise to me. I had this beer at a bar, so I didn't have a label to let me know what I was getting in to.
There's almost no bitterness to it and a pleasantly light spice from the ginger makes this a very easy to drink beer. This would be a good drink on a hot summer day, especially for beer drinkers who find they don't like IPAs or shandies. That's not me, but I'd still give this brew a solid 7/10.