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Belt’s Beer Garden: Brews in the ‘burbs

This week I review two local beers

neon3

This week I kept it even closer to my home than normal. I found a few beers from suburban Chicagoland that I wanted to share with all of you.

Up first, from Niles, Illinois, a rare find...even for my neck of the woods.

Hubbard’s Cave is an off-branch of Une Année Brewery, which is located in Niles, Illinois. Une Année focuses on Belgian and French style beers while Hubbard’s Cave is all about fresh, small batch, brews (from what I’ve noticed anyways).

Hubbard’s Cave is an elusive brand, even in the Chicago area…they have only released nine total beers, all of which are small batches, and, when produced, they are gone almost immediately. So when I found their Fresh IIPA V2 (Fresh by 11.28.16) I grabbed it and never looked back – the $9.99 price tag for the 750 mL bottle (25.4 ounces) was quite reasonable.

The bottle conveniently told me all I needed to know about this beer. Fresh IIPA V2 was brewed with Centennial, Columbus, Mosaic, and Zythos hops on September 29th; it was bottled October 17th; and it is good until November 28th.

I was taken aback at how fresh this beer was, as I found this beer on October 18th…and am drinking it just six days after it was bottled (this article won’t be released until early November but I’m drinking this on October 23rd).

This double IPA poured a bright, yet hazy, burnt orange color (the Texas Longhorns would be proud) with just about a finger of wispy white head topping the beer. The big, airy, bubbles fizzled out to a dusting around the edge of my glass in a slow pace, all while leaving a nice amount of lacing behind while doing so.

Big tropical fruit aromas flowed out of my glass. I inhaled copious amounts of tangerine, orange, and mango notes, with just a hint pineapple in the background. There was a nice hoppy dankness that backed up this brew as well.

I was so excited to dive into this beer.

My first sip started with just a dash of carbonation, really a rather mild amount. Then almost immediately there was a light hoppy bitterness as the juicy flavors washed over my tongue. The tangerine and orange lead the way and really controlled the taste throughout the entire sip.

Just like in the aroma, the dankness followed the tropical flavors and left dry, hoppy aftertaste that had hints of pine resin and orange rind. All that fruit juice left a sticky feeling in my mouth, which was just amplified by the dryness.

Fresh IIPA V2 has a creamy and smooth mouthfeel with a medium/heavy body. As the beer was drained from my glass, the head didn’t lace as well as it did initially. Most of the glass was clear, with the exception of a few random clouds clinging to sporadic spots down the side.

The 8.5% ABV is hidden completely in this brew, as only the hoppy goodness comes out in the flavors. The booze, even though undetectable in the taste, will certainly hit you should you choose to drink the entire bottle by yourself (as I have chosen to do so)…so be careful and share.

This is my first experience with Hubbard’s Cave and I have to say, despite the bitter ending and dryness, I really enjoyed this beer. The price is a bit high, but worth it. And these beers are near impossible to find (only available at 28 stores in the Chicagoland area!!)…which makes drinking it that much sweeter. If you should stumble upon one of these beers before the “Fresh By” date…you need to buy it!! 8.5/10

8.5

Next I head a just 22 miles southeast for a unique IPA from Flesk Brewing.

Flesk Brewing comes from one of my best friend’s hometown – Lombard, Illinois. It was started by two brothers back in 2011. Their name comes from a castle their dad found while in Ireland…Flesk Castle in Kerry County.

I found their Moped Traveler, which is one of their pale ales that is still available…they seem to rotate what they brew quite constantly. A four pack of 16 ounce cans will run you about $10, so it’s not too expensive.

This pale ale was much brighter than I thought it would be. It was a shiny golden, almost yellowish color with two fingers of big, airy white head. After a few moments, the foam settled into a slightly dense half-inch cloud that left some nice lacing on its way down.

Moped Traveler has a sweet, slightly hoppy, lemon aroma – which isn’t too surprising since it’s brewed with Lemon Drop hops. It almost reminds me of the candy Lemonheads…or a similar version you’d get from your grandma’s old glass candy bowl. I kind of liked though…it was strange and somehow inviting.

It had a medium body and a mouthfeel slightly thicker than water but, flavor-wise, my first sip followed the smell almost perfectly.

There was some mild carbonation up front before it began. It was a subtle, kind of slow build to the flavors…it wasn’t too sour or too sweet, but rather had a sugary bitterness filled with lemons and some light bready malt. The malt cut down on the hops and tart lemons which adding some more sweetness. Surprisingly though, this beer also ends with another burst of carbonation at the end. It’s kind of like a firework…a fizzle to start off the bang, then another fizzle to end it.

Once the flavors fade your mouth is left with a mild dryness and a lingering aftertaste that sits on the palate for a little while. It’s the same taste that you get after a Lemonhead…a sticky, sugary lemon flavor.

As the beer is emptied from my chalice, those dense bubbles continue to cling to the sides of my glass…clearly defining each and every sip I take with a thick line of bubbles.

The 5.3% ABV isn’t detectable behind all the flavors and won’t get you too drunk. I’d say this is a pretty sessionable beer…but the medium body and (seemingly) high sugar content makes it sit a bit heavier than most light pale ales.

Overall, this is a really tasty pale ale. I really love the flavor (who doesn’t enjoy lemon candy?!). It drinks heavier than most pale ales but that’s no reason to dislike a beer. If you are in the Chicagoland area, find yourself some Flesk. 8.5/10

8.5