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Belt's Beer Garden: St. Paddy's Day Special

This week we're celebrating the best Irish holiday a few days early with two new beers.

"Ohh, it's been St. Patrick's Day for hours and I'm still not drunk yet." - Homer Simpson
"Ohh, it's been St. Patrick's Day for hours and I'm still not drunk yet." - Homer Simpson

Well it's just about that time of year again - everyone is about to pretend they're Irish and drink a whole lot of booze. So to make sure your friends are green with envy at what you're drinking, Norm and I have two more beers for you to show off this St. Patrick's Day.

Norm:

conways irish

For a country whose biggest reputation is that of being the biggest of drinkers, Ireland does not have the abundance of beer choices you might think. Sure, there is Guinness and all the Guinness brands: Harp, Smithwicks and Kilkenny. Then maybe there's Murphy's...but that's about it. For a country whose national pastimes both involve double fisting, drinking and fighting, it's got to be from all the whiskey, not the beer.

But it's obviously that time of year when we do our very best to celebrate the Irish in us all, with a holiday that's based on the premise of over indulgence of beer - better known as St. Patrick's Day.

So I dug a little deeper into the beer vault to find an Irish ale that's not from Guinness. In fact it's not even from Ireland for that matter.  It's a celebration for the Irish-American and it's called Conway's Irish Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Co. out of Cleveland, OH.

This is a seasonal Irish red ale that runs about $9.99 a six pack.  It packs a moderate 6.5% ABV.

Red ales always have a deep, rich, beautiful color in my opinion. Conway's is no different. It poured to a lovely copper and amber hue that was very clear. It left minimal lacing and had just average head retention. The carbonation is mild. The aroma of Conway's is that of caramel and roasted malt and a definite breadiness is present.

I'm admittedly not a huge fan of Irish ales, they're generally on my take it or leave it list, but this was actually quite enjoyable. Conway's has a sweetness that is well balanced with the biscuit malts and the mildest touch of hop bitterness. It's very smooth and also very drinkable. In a word - mellow.

So if you're looking to get your Irish up on this most blessed of beer holidays, here is a beer that anyone named O'Malley, Finnegan or Houlihan would be proud of.  I will be looking for this Irish offering again come March of 2016.  7.5/10.

Happy St. Pats!

7.5

Dave:

As Norm pointed out, there aren't too many Irish choices when it comes to beer that everyone hasn't already heard of or tried. So this week, instead of drinking an Irish ale, I just found the most green thing I could drink. Green Flash's Green Bullet. If this is what people meant by going green, sign me up!

green bullet

Just about three months ago I tried a Green Flash beer, I liked it enough to try another. In case you forgot (or didn't see) Green Flash comes to us from San Diego, California and has been around since 2002. Their West Coast IPA made them famous and has gathered a huge following. Green Flash loves to experiment and create limited releases and seasonal beers quite often. They aren't shy on the hops and use tons of varieties, just like this one - which uses hops strictly from New Zealand. You can find all over the US but to see where they're closest to you, here's their beer finder.

Green Bullet is a Triple IPA, which means it's very strong and hoppy. It pours a cacophony of colors - a light golden color at the bottom fading to a dark copper color towards the top, which is covered with about one finger of head. Green Bullet clocks in at 10.1 % ABV and has a very imposing aroma of malts and hops which, I'll be honest, made me nervous to try it. This beer used hops I had never had before - Pacific Gem and Green Bullet - which, as stated above, are both from New Zealand.

When I finally gave in to temptation and sipped Green Bullet, there was a bready malt that first hit my tongue. But that was followed by a wave of hops, pine, and some slight fruit - but the malt/pine flavor dominated. Of course I went back for more. And sip after sip was the same - malt, slight citrus, more malt, try again. There's a hint of carbonation that lingers in the beer, but not enough to be bothered by it. And be warned, it is hoppy. There is no definitive number given for IBU, but the bottle says 100+, which means it's probably too damn hoppy for most people.

It's not a bad beer, just a tough beer to finish all by yourself. The high ABV and flavor profile make it a beer I would want/need to share the next time if I got it again. And yet, as far as triples go, this is more of a double hiding as a triple - as the hops and flavor point more towards the DIPA side. At $8.99 for a 22 ounce bomber, it doesn't come cheap but sure gets the job done. Is it worth it? If you're sharing with a friend, absolutely. By yourself, depends. I'm glad I tried it, just wish I wasn't the only one drinking it. The more you drink the harder it goes down (so a partner is worth it). 7/10

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