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Belt’s Beer Garden: A good place to tart

A few sour beers to get you puckered up

neon3

This week it seems like everyone has been in a sour mood (at least around me anyway) and so I thought why not try a few beers that might get me in the same mindset as them...if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right?

So first up, a sour apple brew from out west.

This year to celebrate their 25th anniversary New Belgium is taking their classic Fat Tire and adding five twists to it by collaborating with five different breweries in what they’re calling their “Fat Tire & Friends CollaBEERation Pack”. The 12-pack, which has two original Fat Tires and two of each collaboration, will run you around $13.99…so it’s a little bit pricier than normal.

The most intriguing of these, to me, is their venture with Hopworks Urban Brewing. HUB and New Belgium have given us Fat Sour Apple Ale, which takes Fat Tire to the apple orchard and adds green apples to the mix.

For those that have been living under a rock; New Belgium is one of the biggest craft beer breweries, has been making beer since 1991, and is located in Fort Collins, Colorado.

HUB, though, is a little bit smaller. They hail from Portland, Oregon and brew both beer and ciders at their location. Currently you can find them in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, and Alaska), western Canada, and the Netherlands.

Fat Sour Apple Ale packs a 5.9% ABV and pours an orangey-copper color with almost no head what-so-ever. Even at first there is only a tiny ring of miniscule bubbles around the edge of my glass with nothing else clinging to the sides or floating around.

On the nose this ale has the crisp apple aroma that I expected it to have but there is also a yeasty, bready malt backing and not nearly as much of a sour smell as I was expecting. I was hoping for green apples all the way but it smells more like a super mild cider.

The first sip starts with a small burst of mild carbonation before the flavors kick in. It’s a slow subtle build of tang but once they reach full power, boy are they different from the aroma! That green apple I wanted so badly in the smell came out and punched me straight in the mouth during the tasting.

It was a nice, sharp tartness from what appeared to be Granny Smith apples that lasted a few moments up front before fading down into a light malt flavor. There was some light bitterness to the beer but the hops were almost all but hidden in the brew.

Towards the end of the sip, the bready malt sticks around a little longer than any other flavor but, after a few seconds, it too is gone. The beer ends mostly crisp and clean, with no dryness or lingering aftertaste, but some sips left a light sticky feeling from all that sugary-sweet apple.

Overall, this was a solid brew. I was never a fan of Fat Tire but these collaborations with some great breweries certainly added some nice flavors to the old classic so many people enjoy.

The Fat Sour Apple Ale certainly took a different turn from aroma to taste but it was one I was okay with. It was tart, crisp, and ended clean. Not my favorite in the mixed-pack (that belongs to the Firestone Walker collaboration; Fat Hoppy Ale) but certainly a solid beer. 7.5/10

7.5

Next up, from my home state; a lime radler.

Burnt City began in Chicago’s North Side back in 2012 as Atlas Brewing Company. However, in 2015 they had to stop using the name Atlas…so they re-branded themselves into Burnt City (after the Chicago fire) because for them, it “is about getting back up. It’s about overcoming obstacles. It’s about perseverance. It’s about great beer”.

They have three core brews and a few seasonals that they release throughout the year. Well, I was looking for something different and I found their Retrofit – a lime radler which, despite being their summer seasonal, sounded great. A six-pack of cans will run you $9.99.

This lime radler pours a cloudy copper color with just the tiniest amount of white head. Seriously, if you blink you’ll miss almost all the foam and only be left with just a faint rim of bubbles around the edge of the glass.

On the nose the aroma is tart and yeasty. The tartness comes from the added key lime juice, which is really prevalent in the scent. Along with the citrus, there are also big notes of sweet light malts which did their best to cut into the tart lime aroma.

My first taste of the beer was not quite what the smell had advised me was coming. It starts with a flash of carbonation before the flavors really come out.

The first flavor to rise up was the slightly sugary malt, creating a syrupy layer on my tongue. Then, ever so slowly, the sour lime juice showed up, dancing across my taste buds and bringing another fizz of carbonation with it.

The lime flavor built a lingering tang that lasted a few moments after the sip had been swallowed before the malts once again rose to the top and left a lightly toasted oat aftertaste.

As the beer was siphoned from my glass, there was absolutely no lacing what-so-ever left by the remaining handful of bubbles. And (as it’s quite a low number) the 3.7% ABV wasn’t noticed at all, making this a very sessionable beer great for the summertime…too bad I tried this beer half way through November.

Overall, Retrofit was a slightly tart but overall easy to drink radler. It had some really good flavors led by the malt instead of the limes. And even though it was a sweet semi-tart beer, it kept a balance instead of being overly limed and face-puckeringly (that’s a word, right?) sour. This was a very nice session beer. 8/10

8 beers