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Belt’s Beer Garden: Two Year Anniversary!

A special something to celebrate BBG’s 2nd birthday

neon3

Well guys after two years of putting others’ beers under the microscope and critiquing them…I feel it’s only fair I turn the tables and shine a light on myself.

For the second anniversary of Belt’s Beer Garden I wanted to share with all of you my first beer.

That’s right! A few weeks ago I just finished my first home brew, a SMaSH (single malt and single hop) IPA that I made with Centennial hops and pilsner malt.

I wasn’t sure how the beer would turn out, I decided to call it “Sorry if it Sucks…”

As you can tell, I was all about managing expectations with this beer. If you’re looking for all the beer-geek info…sorry to disappoint but I’m not fancy/experienced enough to have the ABV or IBU specs on this brew, so I apologize for that.

Nor can I legally sell it…so there is no price tag for it. But should you want to find it/try it, you simply have to ask me nicely for one of the few bottles I have left and maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll give you one! You can also check it in to Untappd should you be one of the lucky few to have a bottle.

It pours a dark amber color with about a finger of off-white foam topping the beer. The semi-thick head doesn’t stick around too long and, instead, fades down to a half inch ring around the outside of my glass while leaving just a dusting of tiny bubbles in the center.

Surprisingly (for anyone that knows me), the hop profile is overpowering on the nose and instead it’s more balance. The hops give it a slight citrus aroma but it’s more on the floral side of things. Behind the hops, there is a sweet, caramel scent as wells as some grassy characteristics.

So now the moment of truth: does “Sorry if it Sucks…” actually suck?

It starts with a bit of a watery mouthfeel and a dash of carbonation then the hops and malts kick in. The floral notes and caramel hit my tongue first, making for a slightly sweet, but pretty balanced attack up front. Then it became a sort of roller coaster of tastes.

After initially being balanced, there was a huge surge of caramel sweetness for a brief moment. Once that surge, it was the hops that took a turn as, towards the backend of the taste, a nice hoppy bitterness emerges as the flavors fade out.

This beer finishes with a hint of dryness and some of that ending bitterness sticks around for a little while.

But overall, I have to say…it doesn’t suck. So that’s certainly a confidence booster.

It’s it the best I’ve ever had; not by a long shot. But it’s certainly not the worst (looking at you Cave Creek Chili Beer!).

It’s actually a pretty balanced IPA…which, with my love of hops, was a complete (happy) accident. And, sure, I’m bound to be biased on this review…but I have to say I did alright for a first timer. 8/10 (Note to self: add more hops next time!)

8 beers

But I can’t just review one beer a week...so I paired it up with an Elysian brew that I thought might follow up my beer (had it actually sucked).

I know I just reviewed an Elysian beer…but this time I have their Loser Pale Ale.

A quick recap; Elysian began back in 1995 in Seattle, Washington and now has five different locations. You can find them in 15 states today, mostly on both coasts…not so much the Midwest (with the exception of Missouri).

I first saw Loser a few years ago online but wasn’t able to get my hands on any. Well, this year when I drove out to Washington, I made sure to get this beer. The label says “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” but, in an ironic twist, Elysian just sold ownership to Anheuser-Busch last year and is now owned by a huge Corporation. All that being said, I still wanted this beer…regardless of who owns the company.

Loser packs a 7% ABV and has a price tag that’s pretty reasonable: $8.99 for six 12-ounce bottles (or $4.99 for a 22-ounce bomber).

It poured a dark copper color with just over a finger of airy tan head building up. The head quickly dispersed into a mere dusting around the edges around the glass and a small pool in the center of the liquid.

This pale ale appeared to be more malt forward as the main aroma was that of yeasty bread with just a hint of pine and some light citrus hiding in the background. It was quite doughy and slightly earthy...no wonder it was so dark in color.

On my first sip, the beer started with a mild malt sweetness and wasn’t nearly as bready as the smell had indicated. The malts were certainly the star of the show though. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of hoppyness; a piney flavor near the end of a sip…some tropical fruit struggling to break through the malt (mostly mango and pineapple when they did appear)…a tad bit of bitterness here and there (it has 53 IBU but it’s really not bitter at all).

The Crystal and Pale malts provided a nice sugariness with out turning this beer overly malty. As I love hops more than malt, at first I was quite skeptical about this beer…but the more I drank the more the balance came through. While the malts were certainly the ring-leader, the hops did a nice job of balancing out the flavor and making it a pretty enjoyable pale ale. The higher alcohol content was hidden really well by the nice balance of flavors…you could hardly tell it was 7%.

As I continued to imbibe the beer, the off-white foam laced its way down pretty well. There were a few solid lines but mostly it was a collection of little bubble pools that clung to the sides of the glass.

I’ve wanted this beer for a long time. When I first poured it, and even through my first sip, I was skeptical. As a fan of hops, not malts, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this beer. But the malts and hops balanced out really well to create a sweet, less hoppy, yet still enjoyable, beer. Bud might own this company, but that doesn’t mean Elysian has stopped making solid beers…don’t be turned off just because they are owned by the big guys (even though that sucks!). 8/10

8 beers