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Belt's Beer Garden: we've hit the MOTHERload

You're mom might not drink beers but here's two for you to try.

Mother's Day Weekend is upon us! That means many of you will be spending time with family...but that doesn't mean you should be drinking lesser beers. Norm and I have once again got two beers that you should be trying.

Norm's up first with a brew from Michigan:


This week I'm reviewing a beer by the name of Big Red Coq, a red IPA by Brewery Vivant out of Michigan.  Hey, I don't name these brews, I just taste them.  This comes in a four pack of 16 oz. cans and sells for around $9.99.  It checks in at 6.5%ABV.  So with that said, here's how Big Red Coq tastes.

When you pop the top of the can there's a very sweet, hoppy aroma.  Grapefruit and tropical notes balanced with the Citra hop and the slightest hint of caramel.

For me, red ales have the best appearance of any variety.  Deep amber hues give a warm, rich aura to your glass.  Big Red has a nice reddish brown color and generates a smaller white head of foam that left only a little lacing.  The carbonation is minimal as well.

What started off as a beer I had high hopes for quickly failed to meet my expectations.  The taste is ok mind you, just not as good as my nose and eyes led me to believe. The hop bitterness isn't quite as well balanced with the citrus sweetness. I did not find this beer to be very malt forward as the brewer describes it.  I found it to be quite mild in most flavor areas except in bitterness.  If you're a fan of bitter beers, then maybe you'll enjoy this more than I did.  It's a Belgian style ale that seems to be non-committal on its Belgian side, leaning more to its American side.  Just a dry, hop flavor with just a hint of grapefruit and pine.

It's certainly drinkable and a decent beer, just nothing to rush out and buy.  Turns out I'm just not a fan of Big Red Coq. 6.5/10.

6.5 beer

Dave: This week I went for a different style as I try a California porter.

victory at sea

Ballast Point has the distinction of becoming only the second brewery with three or more beers reviewed on Belt's Beer Garden (Short's from Bellaire, Michigan is the other). They are stationed in San Diego, California but you can find them in the vast majority of the country.

Victory at Sea, like most porters and stouts, pours a deep black color with a thin layer of tan foam head topping the beer. The aroma of vanilla beans, coffee, and spices filled my nose as I went to sip it for the first time.

At first this porter tasted like all the others - coffee, slight vanilla, and some spices. However, the more I drank of it, the better it got. Sure, it could have been the 10% ABV, but who knows the real reason.

Initially you get hit with the coffee taste, then a slight vanilla flavor follows that, ending with a bitter dark chocolate flavor that lingers on your palate. There is also a caramel undertone that allows for a certain sweetness to it, but it's a subtle taste that is mostly masked with the vanilla and coffee. It's rated at 60 IBU but the bitterness is hidden rather well; instead of a bitterness, you get a sort of spiced flavor from the vanilla.

I don't hide the fact that I'm a big fan of hoppy beers and don't drink porters/stouts too often anymore. However, this one has changed my opinion on things. Not that I'll stop drinking IPAs anytime soon, but maybe...just maybe...I'll begin to experiment with more porters and stouts.

Victory costs a cool $8.99 for a 22 ounce bomber, which means it's higher up there in price. But the flavor and alcohol content is quite worth the cost (I've paid more for less...sadly). This is a surprisingly good porter from a self-proclaimed hophead. Try it if you can find it. 7.5/10