After compiling the numbers and doing all the math I've discovered that, so far on Belt’s Beer Garden, we’ve featured beers from seven different countries and 24 states. Well today I change that! Today, we finally make it halfway through the US as I review a beer from the 25th different state.
(Sidebar: If you’re wondering, the countries are Canada, Demark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the US. The 25 states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and this new state.)
It may have been the last to be admitted into the Union but it also has one of the older craft breweries in it. The brewery, Kona Brewing Company, was first opened up back in 1994 in Kona, Hawaii by a father and son duo. Since that time they have built themselves into a near-nationwide brewery and have even opened up production facilities in four states on the mainland (Portland, OR, Woodinville, WA, Memphis, TN, and Portsmouth, NH) to ensure we get the best beer possible.
Despite their wide availability, I have only had two of Kona’s beers before today. For my third beer, I chose the style I like the most – a good ol’ fashioned IPA (duh). Their Castaway IPA to be specific.
Castaway poured a clear, pale, golden straw color with just a dusting of head that tops the beer and creates a small ring around the edge of the glass. On the nose, there are big notes of mango, pineapple, and other tropical fruits that made it quite an inviting brew. There’s a hint of piney hops in there too, but mostly it smell consists of sweet tropical fruits.
The taste followed suit with the smell. Up front you get copious amounts of mango and juicy fruits, which is followed by some mild hops and some light (and I mean very light) caramel malts to end the sip. It’s so easy to drink and so damn tasty.
The tropical flavors are so smooth and really balanced. Castaway has a slightly creamy mouthfeel with a light-medium body and very mild carbonation. Even though there wasn’t much head topping the beer, what little there was sure did last. The foam laced my glass really, really well – leaving clearly defined sip marks and large bands of lacing throughout the glass.
At 50 IBU, the hops do leave a slight spicy bitterness to the aftertaste, but it’s really not bad at all. Speaking of not bad at all, you can’t even taste the 6.0% alcohol that this beer contains, making it dangerously good. And, to make this even better, it’s priced well too – just $7.99 for a six-pack of bottles.
Overall, Castaway is a really sessionable IPA that will be great for these upcoming summer months. It’s got great tropical flavors, is super smooth, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and is available pretty much everywhere in the US. What more could you want?
I know I’ll be going back for more. 8.5/10
Next up, I stick to the far west as I bring you The Hop Concept's newest brew.
One of Port Brewing's subsidiaries is the Hop Concept from San Marcos, California. They have only been around since the end of 2014, but have created some really tasty beers in that time. If you can find Port Brewing, you can find The Hop Concept...which means all those in California, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, DC, and parts of Idaho can rejoice!
The newest creation from the Hop Concept, their Hull Melon and Blanc IPA, features Hallertau Blanc hops from Bavaria and hull melon. It pours a hazy dark orange, almost amber, color with about two fingers of sticky white head topping the beer. The head last quite a while atop the brew...in fact, after waiting nearly five minutes, the foam hadn't faded at all.
On the nose, there is a nice juicy, yet sticky, aroma of melon and pineapple with some other citrus fruits mixed in there. There is a subtle hop backing to the aroma but, for the most part, it smells really nice.
When I finally gave in and tried the beer, the thick foam nearly acted as a barrier to the goods. Once the beer got to my tongue, however, it was quite tasty. The grapefruit and pineapple really stood out. In the background the hull melon led to faint signs of passion fruit and honeydew flavors.
At the end of the sip you do encounter a slight piney taste and hoppy bitterness that lingers on the palate...but what do you expect from a brewery called The Hop Concept? It's not too bad, or too bitter, though.
The thick, sticky head continues to go strong even when the glass is nearing the end; and it also laces each sip nicely with a clear line across and some cloudy splotches in between.
The 22-ounce bomber will set you back $7.99, so it's pretty average in price. And the 8% ABV is hidden well - making it a dangerously good IPA.
I have had four of the five beers the Hop Concept has released (as of March, 2016) and all of them were very, very good. This one is no exception. The hoppy bitterness lasts a little longer at the end here than on their other brews but, outside of that, this is a very tasty IPA. Try it while it lasts. 8/10