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Belt's Beer Garden: Comparing apples and oranges...kind of

Seattle Cider Co. and Marz Community Brewing are featured.

This week I bring you a brew made from apples and another that looks like orange juice.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then this cider should keep him at bay for nearly a week since it's made with five different types of apples.

basil mint

Ciders often get overlooked when talking about craft beers - mainly because they technically aren't beer - but there are still a lot of companies (not named Angry Orchard) that make a lot of great ciders. It's a style I rarely review but I thought it was time to expand and share a cider with you all.

So for the second ever cider review on BBG, I chose a Seattle Cider Company's brew. I have seen their cans in my local liquor store for some time now but never tried one. Seattle Cider Co. is, of course, from Seattle, Washington and shares a building with Two Beers Brewing. Right now you can find them in just 10 states: Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. But keep in mind; they've only been around since 2013 so I'm sure the rest of the country will get to try their stuff shortly.

When I saw their spring release, a Basil Mint Cider (which is only available from March to May), I decided to give it a shot.

This cider is gluten free and is made from five different types of apples: Smith, Fuji, both Red and Golden Delicious, and Gala. It also boasts a 6.9% ABV...not too shabby! A four pack of 16 ounce cans will run you $11.99 so it's not that bad price-wise.

When poured from the 16 ounce can, Basil Mint was a clear, pale gold color with a dusting of bubbles atop the beer and millions trapped underneath the surface. It looked a lot like champagne but smelled nicer.

On the nose, the apples overpowered both the mint and basil, although you could pick up hints of the basil every now and then.

The taste followed that of the smell pretty well. Up front there was a light fizz of carbonation followed by the slightly tart apples and a slight hint of the basil with the mint initially hidden in the flavor.

It has a Brix rating of 1.8. A Brix rating measures the amount of sugar in a solution on a scale of zero to five. The closer to zero a cider is, the dryer it is and the closer to five the sweeter it is. The 1.8 rating this cider has means it's slightly dry. And, true to form, the brew has a nice sweetness to it but does end on a bit of a dry note - but not too dry.

As I drank the contents down I kept waiting for the mint to show itself. It never really did fully. Some sips there would be a tiny mint burn but, for the most part, the basil more or less took over as the only other flavor (besides apple).

I thought this was a rather solid cider. It wasn't too sweet nor was it too dry. The basil added a little something to the flavor, which I liked more than just your average cider, but it never overpowered my taste buds or the fruit. Overall, I'm glad I took a chance on this company. I'll be sure to grab more of their stuff in the future. 8/10

8 beers

Next up, a gose beer from Chicago.

hop gose

Marz Community Brewing calls Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood home. Right now I don't think they are available anywhere outside of Chicagoland, but be sure to keep checking for them by you.

According to their website, they are dedicated to "making small, artisanal batches of beer in a sustainable and socially responsible manner" that they love sharing with just about everyone. And, I will just add, everything I've found of theirs has been quite delicious so far. That's why when I found another gose by them; I really wanted to try it.

And as an added bonus, this one combines my two favorite things: puns and beers. Hop Gose Weasel, as the name implies, is a gose beer that is dry hopped with Simcoe and Summit hops. Inside the bottle, a modest 5.1% ABV is contained, so it shouldn't be too harsh.

When poured from the 500 mL bottle, the contents build around two full fingers of head before slowing fading down into just a thin layer on top. I can't remember a time where I've seen a cloudier beer though. The picture above doesn't do it justice. This gose is murky dark orange and looks like a glass of orange juice except darker.

The aroma is tough to doesn't smell sour or tart. But rather there is an earthy aroma to it, almost grassy and herbal, with just a tiny twang in the background.

What little tartness was in the smell certainly wasn't hidden in the flavor, at least up front. At the beginning of each sip there is a burst of sour lemon flavor that doesn't last long before it's muted by all those grassy notes. Finishing off the flavor was a slight saltiness that was unexpected, but rather good as it leveled out the taste. The earthy flavors lingered for a moment after each sip but it wasn't too bad of an aftertaste at all.

With each new sip my taste buds would try to get my mouth to pucker from the initially sour flavor but, by the time I reacted, the salt and grass would cut the sour out completely and my taste buds would relax...quite a strange reaction to get from a beer in my mind.

All the head that the beer initially had quickly faded into just a dusting and, like most gose beers, didn't really lace the glass at all.

Marz is mostly consistent with their pricing of beers, and this is no different. The 16.9 ounce bottle will run you about $7.99 (the vast majority of their brews cost between $8-11).

Overall, Hop Gose Weasel was an interesting beer. The dry hopping really added something to this one that most goses don't have. There are more flavors and components to this than most, which are just sour straight through. I liked it but it wasn't my favorite by them. 8/10

8 beers