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Belt's Beer Garden: All the colors of the rainbow...well, blue and green anyway

This week we're celebrating the colors blue and green.

For this week's installment, I've found two seemingly unconnected beers to review. But in reality...there is still no connection, just good beer.

The first brew comes to us from the Mitten - New Holland's Blue Sunday Sour.

blue sunday

New Holland Brewing is yet another great brewery from the state of Michigan. They operate out of Holland, Michigan (about 30 miles west of Grand Rapids) and have been brewing since 1996. If you live east of the Mississippi River, odds are you can find them. According to the Facebook page they are available in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Dakota, Connecticut, and both Carolinas.

Blue Sunday Sour is part of New Holland's Cellar Series. I found the 19th edition of the beer, which is the newest version - released this year.

The beer is aged in oak barrels and released for just a few weeks every year. When I saw the label - and the price tag read just $7.99 for the 22-ounce bomber - I knew I was buying it right then and there. I've had my fair share of sour beers but never a barrel-aged sour...until now that is.

When poured, the beer is an incredibly dark ruby color...nearly opaque at first. There was a rush of bubbles that created about a finger of head that almost immediately fizzed out into just a slight dusting of tan foam around the edge of the glass with some tiny clouds floating in the middle.

On the nose, you get that tart aroma you'd expect from any sour. But you also get hints of blueberries and a robust oaky scent. The smell was interesting to say the least, and that only peaked my curiosity even more. Would the sour over power the oak? Would the barrel-aging cut out on the tartness? I needed to find out.

My first sip was quite good. There was a nice fizzy start to the beer, with a tart berry flavor. The sweetness was countered by the woody flavors the barrel added to the beer, creating a nice, but slightly thin, finish to it.

The aftertaste was a battle between the sour and oak each time. Both flavors danced on my tongue between sips, creating an interesting profile after each taste. The tartness was always there but on some sips I would get more woodiness, which calmed it down really well.

This version of Blue Sunday has 7% alcohol packed into the bottle, and it's hidden really well behind all the other flavors. At 18 IBU, it isn't bitter at all, but might make you pucker up some. There is a medium carbonation to it and it's got a lighter to medium mouthfeel to it - like I said, it was kind of thin on the backend.

Overall though, Blue Sunday is one of the more interesting beers I've tried in recent memory. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into but, after trying it for the first time, I was happy I bought it. This is an interesting collaboration of two styles of beer. The tartness of the sour mixed with the oakiness of the barrel-aging process created a cool, tasty libation. 8.5/10


Next up, no stranger to BBG, Green Flash has a new collaboration out:

hand shake

Hand Shake IPA is another collaboration between Green Flash and Alpine Brewing, this time to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the union between the two breweries. Green Flash calls San Diego, California home while Alpine Brewing is about 30 miles further inland in Alpine, California. You can find this beer just about everywhere in America...only five states don't get Green Flash - so hopefully you don't live in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, or Alaska.

The beer pours a transparent golden color with just over a finger of thick, sticky, off-white foam that dissipates slowly. It was brewed with El Dorado, Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops so there is a very inviting aroma of tangerines, oranges, mangos, and other citrus fruits with a slightly peppery hop backing. The malts are pretty much non-existent in the smell.

On my first sip, the taste almost mirrored the aroma. There was a mild hoppy, peppery start to the beer which faded quickly into the citrus fruits. Then on the backend, the citrus and pepper fused together to leave a slightly bitter taste that sticks to your tongue for a brief moment in between each sip. The malts, again, seemed completely hidden from the beer.

Hand Shake has a nice medium body with mild carbonation and a sticky, dry aftertaste. The flavors packed inside this IPA are quite nice. I really like the strong citrus taste mixed with the spicy pepper to create a smooth, yet bitter, brew that most people would probably enjoy.

The head might have finally dissolved into a slight dusting on top of my beer but the little foam that remained laced my glass perfectly - creating distinct sip marks to remind me how much I imbibed each time I raised my glass.

The beer hides the 7% ABV really well. In fact, this drinks like a sessionable beer despite the fact that it should feel heavier.

Green Flash's beers have always been reasonably priced, and this is no different. The 22-ounce bomber will set you back $7.99 which is a nice price for the quality of beer you're getting inside that bottle.

Overall, this is citrusy/peppery IPA is quite good. I'm not sure how long it will be around, so try to find it while you can. I have yet to have a Green Flash (or Alpine) beer I didn't like. This is no exception. 8.5/10