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Belt’s Beer Garden: Neighborly love

I didn’t have to go far to find these two brews!

neon3

Chicago sure has its fair share of breweries but few are as close to each other as Arcade and Maplewood. The two facilities are separated by a mere 1000 feet in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.

And if those two names sound familiar, it’s because both have already appeared on BBG.

In fact, for being as small of a beer company as it is, Arcade sure has made quite a few appearances on BBG. This marks the fifth time the Chicago-based brewery has been featured here…making it tied with Green Flash and Short’s for second most appearances (Pipeworks leads the way with six).

They currently share a production facility with Ale Syndicate and can only be found in the Chicagoland area for now.

I found one of their rotating brews, Citra World!, a double pale ale. The 22-ounce bomber will set you back $8.99.

This beer was made with Cascade, Citra, Columbus, and Fuggle hops and, despite its name as double pale ale, it shouldn’t be as hoppy as its DIPA counterparts while still keeping the higher alcohol content. Arcade World packs a punch with an 8% ABV while managing to have less than 40 IBU (clocks in at 39.5 to be exact).

It pours a hazy dark amber color with just under two fingers of tan head building upwards on the beer. The foam is quite thick and sticky with some solid staying power.

On the nose Citra World! has a slightly dank hoppy smell with, as the name would imply, some nice citrus notes poking through. However, the smell is actually more malt forward and has a sweet caramel and slightly bready aroma that really stands out above the citrus. The Fuggle hops, which are a traditionally British hop, also add a bit of pine to the product.

When the moment of truth finally came and I tried the beer, Citra World! had a medium to heavier body with a smooth, but thicker, mouthfeel to it. It began with some carbonation and a hoppy punch of subtle grapefruit and orange but then, like the smell indicated, it was the malts that took over.

The sweetness of caramel and doughy bread like qualities coated my palate after the hops assaulted them initially (although this beer was not that bitter, it definitely seemed like it had more than 40 IBU).

Towards the middle of the sip the alcohol flavor makes a brief appearance, reminding you that it is indeed a strong pale ale. Then, the malts and hops both work together to cover up that boozy flavor by imparting more of the caramel and a dash of woody pine, the later of which lingers on the tongue for quite a little while after the sip has been swallowed.

As the beer starts getting drained away the head continues its sticky ways, coating my glass nicely with solid consistent coverage down all sides.

All said and done, this is another good beer from Arcade but, once again, nothing really stands out. Between the hops and malts, it’s a pretty balanced beer but leans more towards the malt-forward side of things. Citra World! can hit you pretty hard with that high 8% ABV but, once the beer warms up and you get over the initial shock, the boozy flavor seems to fade away – just letting the effects of alcohol to take over. 7.5/10

7.5

Next up, I take the .2 mile walk to Maplewood, who is responsible for my favorite Chicago beer of all time…The Charlatan (which I discovered and reviewed almost exactly two years ago).

Since then the brewery’s name has changed (from Mercenary) and they have expanded their beer selection from two to now 12 brews. And I have tried every single one I have found, which is all but three - still looking Crushinator, Distant Arrow, Juice Pants (so if you have seen those, let me know please!).

Today, however, I found Son of Juice.

It is the “sequel” to Juice Pants and was released a few weeks ago on September 2nd, as a take on a NorthEAST IPA (not the usual Northwest style I go for) and was made with Mosaic, Nugget, Simcoe, and Warrior hops.

Inside the 22 ounce bottle is an ABV of 6.3% and “low IBUs”, which is about 25, according to Maplewood. The bomber set me back $8.99 but I was more than willing to pay that for one of their beers.

When I poured it into my tallest glass, I could see why they called it Son of Juice…immediately it was like a tropical fruit smoothie was just blended in the room with me. There were loads of pineapple, grapefruit, mango, papaya, and even a dash of peach. It was simply amazing.

Son of Juice was incredibly hazy and was a light golden color towards the bottom that darkened up to a straw color near the top. Two fingers of sticky, dense, white head topped the beer and were there for good amount of time.

But it was time to see if the beer was as good as it smelled. So, very excitedly, I took my first sip…and to this beer I say YES!

It was everything that that the smell (and Maplewood) promised it would be. Initially I forgot I was drinking a beer during my first sip…it was that juicy. There was a mild carbonated fizz up front before huge flavor pockets of juicy mango, grapefruit, lemon, and pineapple danced across my tongue for a few brief moments.

Towards the end there was a light caramel malt that cut into the sugary fruit flavors and balanced out the whole beer…while still keeping it nice and sweet.

The entire bottle stayed consistently tasty. Every sip mimicking the last: awesome juicy tropical fruit flavors followed by some balancing malt and ending on a slightly dry note. Sip, score, repeat.

As the beer (quickly) vanished from my cup, there was nice lacing throughout – creating a tapestry of bubbles down the sides of my glass.

Son of Juice had a pretty thin, borderline watery, mouthfeel to it and wasn’t nearly as hazy as all the promotional pictures made it out to be - and like most Northeast IPAs are. But it’s the taste that’s the most important aspect of a beer and Maplewood NAILED that (yet again).

Overall, this was such an easy drinking, sessionable, flavorful, tasty IPA. This brew had everything I could hope for in an IPA called Son of Juice. I just wish it didn’t cost so much :/

Regardless of price though, this is the reason I love Maplewood. They create amazing, citrusy, easy to drink IPAs time and time again. This is one challenges The Charlatan for best Chicago beer...and is one of the best beers I have ever had. It’s one you shouldn’t miss! 9.5/10

9.5