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Belt's Beer Garden: Pipe dreams

This week, I spotlight two delicious brews from Pipeworks Brewery.

Pipeworks is quite well known in Chicagoland and, in fact, we've featured them on here four times before so you've all probably heard of them too. But as a testament to how good their beers are, I wanted to spotlight them once again with two more of their brews: Blood of the Unicorn and Lizard King.

blood lizard

Both of these are newly available in cans (finally). And both cost the same; a pack of four 16-ounce cans will cost you just about $10.

Blood of the Unicorn is their red ale made with copious amounts of Columbus, Zythos, Falconer's Flight, and Chinook hops. It pours a deep, dark amber color that you can barely see through. Just over a finger of thick, off-white head clings to the top of the beer.

blood of the unicorn

There is a strong, slightly dank, citrus aroma with a hop backing. Caramel and bready malts back up the hops but, for the most part, the nose is primarily citrusy hops. It's quite inviting.

The first taste was really, really smooth. Up front, like the aroma, you get a nice, sweet tropical fruit flavor (mostly grapefruit) with the caramel malts bringing up the rear. There is some mild carbonation that bubbles on the tongue initially but that fades quickly as the citrus takes over.

On the backend there is a piney bitterness that initially sticks with you after the sip but it's really not bad at all, even for those people that don't like hops.

There is a smooth, slightly watery mouthfeel to BotU but it does finish on the dry side of things. As I continue to drink down the contents, the more the aftertaste changes from a piney bitterness to a lingering caramel aftertaste...the malts showing they are not going to be outdone by the hops.

The 16 ounce can contains 6.5% alcohol, but it's all but hidden behind the great flavors. The head that tops the beer also makes strong, sticky spider-webs that cling to the glass as the beer disappears.

There's a reason this is rated the 13th best amber ale in the world on RateBeer...in a few simple words: it's delicious. And I'm not even a fan of ambers. 8.5/10

8.5

Lizard King is an American Pale Ale that is made with Mosaic hops (as the bottle says) and Amarillo hops as well. When poured from the can the slightly hazy, mostly golden, beer is topped with a modest amount of head - under a finger of frothy white foam.

lizard king

On the nose, there is a very nice, slightly sweet aroma of lemon, grapefruit and other citrus notes with pale malts backing up the hops.

Like its counterpart above, RateBeer has this in their top-50 category as well, coming in at the 25th best APA in the world. So the expectations are high going forward.

On my first sip, I literally exclaimed "Man, that's good!" (quite loudly) to an otherwise empty room. A very mild carbonation fizzled out on my tongue up front as loads of grapefruit, mango, pineapple and other citrus flavors flooded my taste buds.

Sure, it's a bit dry. But, with Lizard King, there was no harsh bitterness, no clingy aftertaste. Just great flavor that lasts for a shimmering moment and fades away...making you want that next sip even more.

It's so smooth. It's so easy to drink. I had to pace myself whilst writing this so I didn't drink it all too quickly.

The little amount of head laces the glass sporadically and sparingly; leaving half the glass (the side I was drinking from) clean and the other half a tangled web of tiny bubbles. The 6% alcohol that is inside this beer is hidden completely. The moderate ABV + the easy drinkability + the modest cost = a very dangerous, very delicious beer!!

I can see why it's so highly rated and I concur. This is one of those beers that even people who hate pale ales would enjoy. It's delicious, it's smooth, and it's easy to drink. I only wish I had more. Lizard King is easily in my list of top-10 APAs of all time. 9/10

9 beers