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Belt's Beer Garden: California dreaming

This week I feature two golden beers from the Golden State.

When I'm left to my own devices, it should come as no shock that I'm going to try some IPAs...and this week is no exception. For this installment I set my sights out west, with two California beers.

First up, from Northern Cali, a limited release from Sierra Nevada.

harvest idaho 7

Sierra Nevada is one of the biggest names in craft beers and comes to us from Chico, California. They have started a new series of beers named Harvest, which consists of five different varieties of IPAs, including this single hop one. This IPA contains the newly created Idaho 7 hop, which gave off a nice aroma of apricots and tea leaves when I opened the bottle.

When poured, a strong flow of bubbles escaped to the top, creating a large barrier of foam between me and the orange/copper colored beer. The head grew from just a touch to about two fingers worth in just over a minute.

After waiting as patiently as possibly for the head to subside, I finally gave in and tried the beer about three minutes after first pouring it.

It did not disappoint. Despite all the bubbles and foam, there wasn't any sense of carbonation. Instead, the taste of black tea flooded my mouth with just the smallest sense of apricot and orange riding the tail end. There is also a slightly spicy aftertaste left by the tea but it is a really nice taste compared to most beers.

Harvest Single Hop leaves a nice, thick lacing around the glass with every sip, creating a trail of lines telling me how much I consumed every time I put the glass down.

The bottle "claims" it's an IPA and has 55 IBU...but it certainly doesn't drink like one and, to me, there is very little bitterness at all. I was not expecting this beer to be as easy to drink as it is. In fact it's so smooth I forgot it was even beer I was drinking...I was certain it was an herbal tea. I had to check the label over and over to tell myself that this was, indeed, a beer.

The only time it ever tasted like a beer was the final sip. My very last gulp reminded me I was drinking an IPA, as the hoppy bitterness I was expecting all along finally kicked in.

Costing a mere $6.49, and sold solely in 24 ounce bottles, it brings a solid 6.5% ABV to the party. This could easily cause problems...and by problems I mean you'll be buzzed or drunk after just one (and if you're like me, you'll want to go back and buy more of it).

Sierra Nevada creates a lot of good beers but this one right here is fantastic. A new top-5 for sure! It's so easy to drink and the taste is near perfect...really the only fault I can find is the abundance of head that started the beer (and that's a problem I'll gladly have any day!).

The only reason this beer doesn't tie (or overtake) Mercenary's The Charlatan is because I love the citrus flavor more than black tea. But it's dangerously close...9/10

9 beers

Next up, from Southern Cali, Palate Wrecker by Green Flash.

palate wrecker

This is the third beer by Green Flash that I'm reviewing, meaning they have tied Short's Brewing as the most reviewed brewery on Belt's Beer Garden. As you might be able to tell, Green Flash is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries, as all of their products have been tasty, hopped up, and loaded with alcohol. Green Flash is out of San Diego, California and is available just about everywhere in the contiguous 48 states (sorry Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia), so you most likely have them near you.

Palate Wrecker is a cloudy rust color and is finished off with just a touch of foam when poured. It is lightly carbonated, as only a handful of bubbles float their way up towards the top of the beer.

This doesn't smells very much like an imperial IPA, as it has a mango and tropical fruit scent to it; not the strong alcohol and hop odor I was expecting. For a beer that's 9.5% ABV and has 149 IBU, it smells amazing and quite inviting.

But as soon as I sipped it for the first time, I knew why they called it the Palate Wrecker. It's so strong and hoppy up front that your tongue immediately goes numb for a second or two, trying to figure out what the hell that was. However, when you regain the ability to taste, Palate Wrecker does taste very nice. The mango is there, as is some pine and malt, but the hops and bitterness strike hard! With every sip, my tongue fizzed from the sharpness of the hops. It's a weird feeling, but somehow enjoyable after a while, which is good because I had 22 ounces to drink.

The tropical fruit flavors also emerged the more I drank. Possibly because I regained the ability to taste after that first initial shock or possibly because the Simcoe and Centennial hops are just more present that the Columbus hops (where the pine taste comes from). It became easier and easier to drink with every sip.

At $8.99 for a 22-ounce bomber, or four 12-ounce bottles for $12.99, it's not the cheapest beer out there, but it's far from overpriced.

I reviewed another heavy hitting brew from Green Flash for St. Patrick's Day in their Green Bullet Triple IPA and said a partner was needed to finish that hop-heavy beer, but this one is different. I refused to share this one with my friends. If you're a hophead like me, this is the beer for you. It has a nice, balanced taste and comes loaded with alcohol and hops, what more could you want?! 8/10

8 beers