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Belt's Beer Garden: Summer lovin'...and drinkin'

With summer finally here, Norm and I found some great beers for your next outdoor gathering.

Norm and I are back with some nice summer beers to supply at your next cookout, day off, or, hell, just after work. We don't care when you drink them, just as long as you're trying them.

Up first is Norm with a beer coming from the Silver State: Oskar Blues' Pinner.

pinner

With the longer days of summer comes longer hours for drinking beer (for most of us anyway).  And for the IPA lovers, like myself, long hours of high ABV pale ales can lead to regretful nights and difficult mornings. Sure, you can turn to a session IPA, but I happen to find most of those lack punch. It's a challenge to stay under 5% ABV and still get your hops on.

I found a beer that comes pretty close to satisfying my extended summer day drinking.  Pinner Throwback IPA from Oskar Blues out of Colorado. It sneaks in just under 5%, at 4.9% ABV and will run you $6.99 for a six pack of 12-ounce cans.

When you crack that pop-top open, you'll get the nice citrus aromas of pineapple and orange, a bit of hop, and a touch of caramel. Needless to say, it was very pleasant and mouth watering.

Pinner pours a golden color with average carbonation leaving about an inch of head with decent retention.

The taste is pretty close inline with the aroma. A tad more malt and bread is noticeable but it's still hop forward with plenty of citrus and pine punch to it. It packs a bit of bitterness too, which I really liked. I may have guessed this beer was around 7% ABV had I not seen the truth on the bottle.

Overall this is just a good summer beer and one I will be supplying at my next cookout or day party as an all around good beer to have on hand.  8.5/10.

8.5

Dave: Before I get to my review, a quick word. As any craft beer fan should know, Untappd is a great app that lets you track and rate beers. With there being so many beers to try and only so many hours in a week, I just don't have the time write up longer reviews for most of the beers I try. So for those of you interested in what I'm drinking the rest of the week, feel free to follow me on Untappd, user name NIUfan86. Now, onto the beer!

This week I also found a beer I want for my next party. It's a limited release beer that you need to get your hands on if you're even close to Chicago. And, unlike Norm's, mine has the higher alcohol content...so it's got that going for it as well.

roe's hill

Ale Syndicate is one of the many emerging breweries from Chicago. It stated in 2012 but it wasn't until last year they were able to acquire a space in Logan Square, which they now share with Arcade Brewing.

On a recent trek to Chicago I got to meet one of the co-founders, Samuel Evans, who showed me their space and talked future plans with me. They don't have a tap room or much yet but are in the process of building a lot of cool stuff there. Currently they only distribute to Chicago and its suburbs, but hopefully that will change soon. To find out more about them, check out their website here. Now, on to the beer.

When poured, this IPL (India Pale Lager) is a light copper, almost amber color, and is topped with very little head. The many tiny bubbles rushing towards the top is a good indicator that this beer is pretty well carbonated.

As a result of the massive amounts of Simcoe and Mosaic hops they used, the aroma of tropical fruits - mango mostly - with a hoppy backbone hit my nose. It definitely smells more like an IPA than a lager - and, to me, it has a wonderful scent.

The first sip confirmed all my hunches. There is some carbonation in Roe's Hill but mostly the flavor of tropical fruits, citrus, and a slight hop bite flooded my tongue. The hop bitterness (at 55 IBU, it isn't too bad) lingers on the tongue for a little while but overall it's still rather smooth, just a bit on the drier side.

As you drink it down further there is very little lacing left around the glass but the flavors remain the same - every taste just as good as the first sip.

At 7.0% ABV, it's probably one of the stronger lagers you'll find, and probably one of the better ones as well. Maybe it's because it drinks more like an IPA than a lager, but this was a very solid beer. A four pack of 12-ounce bottles will run you $9.99, so it's not the cheapest but the quality is well worth the cost.

Roe's Hill is a limited release, so snatch this up while you can. I know I'm going back for more. 8.5/10

8.5