Before we get to our reviews, as some of you may have heard, the Duquesne Brewing Company will be "honoring" Penn State's iconic Joe Paterno with a special beer this year. It came out to mixed reviews, as there has been some backlash saying the beer does nothing to improve his legacy nor is it even necessary.
While that might be true, and whatever your stance may be, football (and especially college football) revolves around tailgating and beer. So anything that integrates the two is, in my opinion, a good idea. I just hope they give it a cool name. Which brings me to two questions I pose to you all.
What would you name the Paterno beer?
And If your school was going to create a beer, who/what would you want it honor and what would you call it?
If you have a great name for either the Paterno beer or a MAC beer, I'll give you bonus points AND might even buy your first round sometime (probably not, but maybe).
But now on to the regularly scheduled program.
As usual, Norm is up first with a Jurass-kicking beer from Chicago:
The focus of the Belts Beer Garden is to present and review new beers for the consuming public. I'm going to get off that path for just a moment and turn it into an advice column. Not advice pertaining directly to tasting new beer, but advice on one way to find new beer. My advice is this - get to know your favorite liquor store workers. You know, the guys who roam the aisles and ask if you are finding things OK. Talk to a few until you find one that really knows his stuff.
Most of the larger liquor stores now have employees who don't just sell beer, but they love it as well. There's a good chance there's at least one that knows far more than you and can lead you to some great discoveries you may never have found on your own. Also, if you get in good, they'll let you know when certain things are arriving and occasionally let you know that that high demand beer that is now gone from the shelf, well there's a couple bottles in the back.
So when I went into my favorite liquor store searching for the ever elusive Crimson Snapper from Pipeworks (if anyone has some, please message me! We can work something out) it was all gone as I had expected. But after a good 15 minute talk with an employee about all things beer, he suggested I give this local beer a try: Highly Evolved IPA from Arcade Brewery. Only $8.99 for a 22 ounce bomber that has 9% ABV.
I always advocate local drinking. Plus this bottle had a dinosaur on it! What's to lose?
When the top was removed the first sent is that of malt and caramel, a bit of a surprise for an IPA. It had only the faintest aroma of hops and basically no citrus. Slightly floral though. Ok, look alike we're dealing with more of an English Pale Ale.
Evolved poured an opaque burnt orange with good lacing and plenty of carbonation. No sediment, but a heavy looking beer.
The taste was more pleasant than my nose would have told me. Malty IPAs are just average in my book. But this one kept its malt in check and balanced itself out with just enough hops to leave me with a very nice beer experience. It was sweeter than most but really a very decent offering. 7/10
Dave: I figured I'd do a smaller brewery too. This time, however, it's not from my native Chicago area but from Indiana.
Since it's finally summer we can start drinking farmhouse and saisons and have it be considered "normal". As I like to say, summer is the saison...yeah ok, that was very bad. And that's why I chose Figure 8's saison ale, Lost Saint, this week.
I'm not too sure how many of you have heard of Figure 8, I know I hadn't. They call Valparaiso, Indiana home and began back in 2010. They get their name from the knot used to tie the safety rope to a climbers harness when sailing and rock climbing. From what I can find online, they are only available in Indiana and the Chicagoland area but places in Southwest Michigan and Northwest Ohio could find them too.
Lost Saint is a very cloudy, dark orange color. There wasn't a lot of foam to this saison when poured from the bomber into my glass, however, what head that did top the beer was retained for quite some time and leaves a strong lacing around the glass the further you drink.
It has a nice aroma of honey, some grassy hops, and some floral notes to it but it doesn't smell as yeasty or spiced as most farmhouse ales so I was interested to try it.
My first sip went down really smooth. There wasn't a whole lot a bite or carbonation to it at all. The grassy/floral hops lead the way in flavor initially. The honey comes through in the aftertaste that loiters on you tongue for a little while. The aftertaste also contains hints of the coriander and grains of paradise that Figure 8 used.
However, I'm surprised at how watery it is. It almost reminds me of like a weak green tea that somehow has an ABV of 6.5%.
It's an odd saison as it lacks the really foamy head, normal yeasty flavor and smell, and the spiciness that most have. It's not bad. But it's not spectacular. It lacked a distinct flavor and, instead, ended up only having that weak tea flavoring from the honey and the coriander. I happen to like that combination of tastes, but even I think it's kind of bland.
Overall, Lost Saint was a smooth, easy to drink beer...mostly because it didn't have much of any one flavor to it. At only $5.99 for the 22-ounce bomber, it wasn't too expensive so I say it's worth a chance. 7/10