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Belt's Beer Garden: Having a draft of my own

This week while watching to see where the MAC prospects end up, pour yourself one of these draughts too.

There may be seven rounds in the NFL draft this weekend, but I've got two draught picks you should be trying too!

With the first pick this week, I've decided to select Brutal IPA, a strong player from the powerhouse that is Rogue Ales, one of America's most well-known craft breweries.

brutal ipa

Rogue opened in Ashland, Oregon way back in October of 1988 (which is like 150 years ago in craft beer time). Rogue is possibly the most well-known craft brewery out there because of their affinity to make great variations of all types of beers, bold new ones - like their bacon/maple/doughnut ale or their peanut butter and banana ale (among others) - and give back to their community. Rogue is available in all 50 states, so there should be no problems in you finding them.

The strong aroma of pine, bready yeast, and just a touch of citrus are emitted when first pouring Brutal IPA. The beer pours a cloudy copper color and is topped with just a touch of foam, and mildly laces the glass as you drink it down.

When first sipping Brutal, the pine and citrus collide, creating a smooth, tasty product. The citrus hits your tongue first, but only lasts a short while before the pine makes an appearance.

The bready malt that I smelled is all but hidden in the flavor, which I personally was thankful for. However, neither of the flavors that showed up lasted too long nor is there a lingering aftertaste, which makes this a very enjoyable, and easy to drink, beer.

It's mildly carbonated, as the beer fizzes on the tongue when drinking, and has a medium body to it. There's a bit of bitterness to it (rated at 46 IBU) and it clocks in at 6% ABV, meaning it's not too strong in either regard. And being priced at only $6.99 for a 22 ounce bomber, it makes it a very solid beer choice.

It's a very plain beer. And by that I mean the taste doesn't overpower you one way or another (citrusy or malty), the aftertaste dissipates quickly, the ABV isn't too high, it is priced right, and any fan of beer (whether they like IPAs or not) could drink this beer easily.

Being plain doesn't mean it's bad by any means possible! In fact, I haven't had many Rogue offerings in the past, but of the one's I've had, this is by far my favorite. 8/10

8 beers

With my second selection this week, I went for a sleeper pick - Half Acre's Ginger Twin.

ginger twin

Chicago is home to many breweries that we've already featured here on BBG. But we've got one more here from Half Acre - the same brewery that brought us Daisy Cutter a while back.

Half Acre began in 2006 in a spare bedroom of all places and has since become a huge hit in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago. They are currently working on opening a second brewery and expanding. As of now, you can find their beers in parts of Illinois and Pennsylvania, but that should change shortly.

Ginger Twin is an India-styled red ale, so naturally it pours a really rusty, red-copper color with about a finger of creamy tan head topping the beer. It gives off the aroma of sugary caramel malts with some hoppy bitterness adding to the backbone of the beer.

It tastes like it smells, an earthy malt with some caramel undertones and a hint of hops. Initially there isn't as much bitterness as the smell would indicate, as the hops just peak slightly through the malts. But after a second, there is a fizzy bite from the hops on your tongue, just as a reminder that they are there. The sting isn't very bad and doesn't linger too long either.

It's a well made crossbreed between a red ale and an IPA. It has the hoppyness of an IPA while maintaining the strong amount of malts and caramel used in a red ale.

As to the name, I was surprised that there wasn't much, if any, ginger to this beer. I love the taste of ginger and I was hoping to get a hint of that flavor in this beer, however, the major flavor was the caramel malt with ginger no where to be found.

Ginger Twin rings in with an ABV of 7%, so it's no slouch. Nor is it a slouch when it comes to price - $8.99 for a 22 ounce bomber. But, despite the lack of actual ginger, it's a really nice, really smooth red ale. Every sip is as easy to drink as the last. The hops and malts work incredibly well to create a superbly balanced and easy to drink beer.

Overall, this might not be as good as their powerhouse, Daisy Cutter (which is the only other Half Acre beer I've had so far), but it's definitely a very nice compliment to it. It's a really smooth and tasty hybrid of a red ale and IPA. 8/10

8 beers