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Belt's Beer Garden: Norm's BACK!

Norm makes his triumphant return this week.

It's been a while since anyone has joined me on here but Norm found a special brew he wanted to share with you all.

So first up Norm's review of one of his favorite limited released beers:


Timing, as they say, is everything. Just as my favorite beer happened to recently hit the shelf for its once a year, very short appearance, my beer-bro Dave asked if I could help him out with a review this week. Seeing as this must be in print if you're reading it, I obviously and excitedly said "sure Dave".

I make no excuse for being first, and foremost, a hop-head. There is a world of beer styles and I gladly try and enjoy them all. But my favorite is still the bitter and citrus overload of hops in an IPA. While there are just so many great IPAs these days, I do have one favorite. That beer is Abrasive from Surly Brewing out of Minnesota.

Abrasive is a double IPA containing one of everyone's favorite hop, the citra. It also uses the warrior hop and packs a very bitter 120 IBU's. Abrasive comes in at an ABV of 9% and will run you a good penny to purchase. Around $18 for a 4 pack of 16 oz cans.

This IIPA pours to a hazy, dark golden glow that fights to maintain any of its minimal head. Lacing hangs on like a sock to a shirt right out of the dryer. It's really a beautiful beer to look at.

Please be seated when you smell this. You're still going to get knocked to the floor, but at least you'll be that much closer to it when it happens. This is a blast of hops unlike almost any I've smelled. Orange and pineapple dominate as well as a nice pine aroma.

Can the taste measure up to the look and smell? You bet it does. As long as you really enjoy your beer very bitter, bold, sweet and citrus filled. Yes it's very hoppy and dank with a resinous feel, but there is a bit of malty goodness as well. This one is extreme on many levels, but all comes together wonderfully.

Being that this is my favorite IPA I am admittedly biased in my review. Sometimes beers become your favorite for reasons other than their quality. It can be because of a great night out when you first had it. Maybe because it's a beer you discovered and shared with your friends. But whatever the reason, Abrasive is my favorite beer and for that I'm giving 9.5/10


Next up, I travel around the world to review a New Zealand beer:


Moa (oddly pronounced "more") started back in 2003 far, far away. They are located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand which is famous for its wines. Moa got its name from the now extinct large flightless birds that used to inhabit the lands. Fun fact: Moa were the only species of bird that didn't have wings at all (see, beer can teach you a lot!).

I can't find their distribution range, so I'm not sure if they're near you...but I know from personal experiences that they're at least available in Chicagoland, San Diego, and Phoenix.

Their Pale Ale, also called South Pacific Pale Ale, will be the third Moa beer I've had. I loved their Breakfast (a fruit beer that tastes nearly identical to Twizzlers!), and St. Joseph's, a Belgian triple. Those were actually the only two Moa beers I had seen in the US until I found this one today.

This brew is made with New Zealand's own Nelson Sauvin hops and is quite decorated; at least the bottle tells me so. The label says that it has won at least two gold medals (at the Asia Beer Awards) and a bronze (at the Australian International Beer Awards) my expectations have just been bumped up.

It poured a dark gold, almost blood orange, color with just under a finger of foam dusted across the top of the beer. On the nose the malts were definitely more present than the hops. There was also a hint of pine and some funk to it. The smell reminded me of Grolsch or a stronger Heineken...well, any beer that comes in a green bottle really.

Not too impressed with the aroma, I still went forward and tried the beer. The taste was better than the smell. Up front you get a pine flavor with hints of lemon and other citrus notes; but mostly the malts give it a strong breadyness to it that takes over on the backend. Initially the malts and hops are rather evenly distributed but, at the end of the sip, the hops leave a slight bitterness lingering on my tongue.

The beer is on the drier side and quite carbonated (maybe too much so) as it's rather fizzy on the palate. But, at just 5% ABV, it's not too strong. The price tag of around $5.49 for the 11.2 ounce bottle is a little steep...but how often do you find beers from New Zealand?

Overall, this is a decent beer. There are just two problems I have with it: the aftertaste and the smell. Both are reminiscent of European lagers that come in green bottles - you know the ones with that funky taste to them. That's what this beer leaves in your mouth after each sip. If you like Carlsberg, Grolsch, and the like then this beer is for you. 6.5/10

But definitely check out Moa's fruit beer Breakfast! It was delicious!

6.5 beer