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Belt’s Beer Garden: 200th Beer! And I might need to move to Oregon...

We hit a milestone...BBG’s 200th beer review! Plus two amazing beers from the Beaver State

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This post will begin with the 199th beer and end with my 200th review. And what better place to hit #200 than from Oregon...as Oregon might be my favorite state beer-wise.

Portland and Eugene are great but they’re not the only places you can get awesome beer in the state. Located right in the middle of Oregon are Bend and Redmond...and they both have a lot to offer. Don’t believe me? I’ll show ya.

First I stop in Redmond, Oregon, which houses just under 30,000 people. But the small town is home to two very good breweries: Cascade Lakes and Wild Ride.

Wild Ride began as an idea back in late 2011 but didn’t open until May of 2014. And since then they have brewed over 40 styles of beer and are distributed throughout Oregon, the Seattle area, and just broke into Idaho this year. I found one of their year-round IPAs: Hopperhead.

I’m expecting a big bite from this IPA. Hopperhead has hops added throughout the brewing process and then again while fermenting just for good measure. I was a little surprised that it only claims a 75 IBU rating…which is high but not terribly high.

The beer poured out a dark copper, nearly amber color with plenty of sediment floating around. About a finger and a half of sticky, cloudy off white head built up and slowly evaporated down into just a tiny dusting around the edge of the glass.

On the nose this beer was certain hop-centered. Loads of pine resin and dank citrus fruits are emitted with caramel malt backing it all up. I can pick up on grapefruit, mango, and some pineapple…but it’s really the pine and caramel that stand out above the rest.

My first sip was actually really nice. It had a smooth, slightly creamy mouthfeel to it with very little carbonation up front. The sweetness from the caramel malt and the citrus fruit blended really well up front; grapefruit and mango dancing lightly on my palate before fading off. I was quite surprised at how little the pine aroma permeated the taste…it was barely there - just a dash of hoppy pine as the beer faded from my taste buds.

Hopperhead was really smooth and, honestly, went down easier than I expected. Yes, there was that pinch of bitterness that all IPAs have but, for as heavy as this beer is, it’s also quite easy to drink. It’s light, crisp, and finishes nicely…with only a tad bit of dryness lingering after each taste.

The sticky foam from the top made sure I knew just how sticky it was. Or maybe they’re just as lazy as me…because, as the beer was drained from my glass, the bubbles sure didn’t want to move. Instead they just clung tightly to the side of my glass where they were when I initially took my sip, leaving huge, interweaving webs all down my cup.

At 6.7% ABV, this beer isn’t crazy but it’s certainly no slouch…especially if you have the bomber (and for just $4.99…why wouldn’t you get the big ol’ 22-ounce bottle?!).

Overall, I was really surprised (in a good way) by Hopperhead. The menacing looking snake and all this talk of huge bites had me a little weary…as did the huge hoppy pine aroma in the beginning. But this beer is more rattle than actual bite.

I don’t mean that in a negative way at though. This beer has a LOT going for it. The price is certainly right. But, more importantly, it has really nice flavors that are balanced perfectly…it’s kind of hoppy yet still pretty sweet and mild. And as the beer warms those flavors stay consistent and remain tasty. At first I was skeptical but Hopperhead certain grew on me! 8.5/10

8.5

For #200 I wanted to make sure it was not just a great beer, but from a brewery that deserves to be heard. And I found that in Silver Moon, which is located just a few miles south (17 to be exact) of Wild Ride.

They began as Bend, Oregon’s first brew shop before evolving into the cities third brewery. I can’t find their full distribution but I know you can get them in Oregon and, if I recall correctly, Spokane, Washington…if not more places.

In addition to a handful of season and specialty brews, Silver Moon only offers three year-round beers: Chapter Two (a casual ale), Get Sum (a pale ale), and IPA 97 (hopefully you can guess what style this is). Naturally, I grabbed their IPA. Six 12-ounce cans will run you just about $7.99 so the price is certainly right.

IPA 97 poured a bright orangey copper color with just over a finger of head bubbling up to the top of the glass. The foam was a thick, sticky white that didn’t last too long before slowly fizzling down to a dusting.

This beer screamed Northwest IPA on the nose. It was big on juicy tropical fruit; boasting especially large quantities of grapefruit, pineapple, and mango. There was a little bit of melon as well and a hoppy pine backing that didn’t do much to stop the fruit. I was excited to dive in after smelling this beer.

My first sip started with a creamier mouthfeel and barely any carbonation. From there the grapefruit and mango took control of my palate; the fruits dancing on my tongue for a few moments before slowly beginning to fade off. The pineapple was muted by the grapefruit and mango and the malts added just a dash of sweetness while not getting in the way of the fruity flavors.

At first, as the flavors subdued, there was no lingering aftertaste and no bitter or sticky qualities from the hops…IPA 97 simply left my mouth dry but wanting more of this beer. However, as it continued to warm up, there was a piney flavor that remained with the dryness but it still wasn’t anything too hard to swallow (pun very much intended).

As the beer was drained (quicker than intended) from my glass, the little bit of head showed just how sticky it was. While it didn’t leave defined lines, there were huge web-like designs strung together all the way down my glass.

For a beer with 75 IBU, there was no really hoppy bitterness to it. And for a beer with 7% alcohol packed inside I was really surprised at how smooth and easy to drink this brew was…the booze was hidden completely behind all those fruits vying for attention.

Silver Moon might not be well know anywhere east of Oregon…but man, they should be. This is a really good IPA that should be shared with the country. It has amazing flavors, a great price, is so easy to drink, and is the perfect Northwest IPA. Props to Silver Moon! I can’t wait to try more of their stuff…and grab more IPA 97! 9/10

9 beers

Cheers to the first 200 beers!!!