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Belt’s Beer Garden: Brotherly love

Two Brothers Brewery gets a double feature this week

neon3

Two Brothers is one of the oldest craft breweries in Illinois; opening up in Warrenville - a far western suburb of Chicago (and a neighboring city to where I live) - back in 1996. Over the past twenty years, they have grown and grown at a huge rate. In fact, they are responsible for my first steps into craft beer. I loved their Sidekick, Outlaw, and Wobble so much that I began to try a ton of other IPAs from all over the country.

They now have a 40,000 square foot brewery/taphouse and three different locations; including a second brewery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and two high-end restaurant/bars in Aurora (Roundhouse) and Naperville (The Craftsman), Illinois. You can find them in 13 states, mostly across the Midwest but also in Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida.

I picked up two of their newest releases – Pinball (a pale ale) and In the Flesh (a sour ale). Each costs $9.99, but Pinball is a six-pack, while you only get four cans of In the Flesh for the same price.

I started with the sour beer just in case.

Two Brothers has two variations of In the Flesh– a pineapple and a blueberry – of which I picked the latter.

When I poured it, this blueberry sour was a muted purple-ish amber with some light blue hues in it. Just under a finger of off-white foam appeared and it didn’t last long at all. Soon it was just a light dusting across the top of the liquid.

On the nose there was no mistaking this…it was definitely a sour beer. There was that sharp tart aroma that they all have…but this one had some blueberry sweetness added to it that, I hoped, would cut into any sharp bite in the taste. And, at only 7 IBU and 4.2% ABV, it probably wont really pack a punch…unless is super tart.

My first taste began with some mild carbonation but not nearly as much as most sours seem to have. Quickly though my mouth began its automated response to any tart fruits and began to tighten up…on instinct alone.

But that sour pucker didn’t last too long as, shortly after the initial shock, the blueberry flavors emerged and calmed everything down. My jaw was able to relax again. From there, the sip just seems to end, leaving with no real lingering aftertaste or dryness.

Once you get used to that initial sour shock, the beer goes down pretty smooth. The addition of blueberry creates that sweetness and does well to calm everything down at the end. It’s nothing amazing but it’ still a pretty good sour.

Next I tried their Pinball, a “juicy hop pale ale” made with five different hops. Each can is filled with a 5.4% ABV and just 31 IBU. My best friend told me this was the best Two Brothers beer she’s had…so I’m ready give it a try.

Pinball poured a light golden amber with just over a finger of dense tan head. Unlike the last beer that had no lacing what so ever, Pinball’s head clung to my glass before I had even had a sip of it…leaving clouds stuck to the sides of the glass as the foam slowly fizzled down.

This pale ale had an amazing smell. I can see why they used the term “juicy” on the can with this one. It almost had a NE IPA aroma to it as loads of tropical and citrus fruits formed an amazing bouquet of aromas. I could pick up oranges, pineapple, mango, some light melon, and some lemon zest. There was also a hint of pine from the hops and a toffee malt presence as well.

After taking all those different scents in…I was ready to dive in to this beer.

My first taste starts with just the lightest touch of carbonation before all those fruits from the aroma attacked my taste buds.

They were all there – pineapple, melon, mango, orange, and even grapefruit – blended together with a slightly dank, slightly bitter hoppiness. It started off so wonderfully.

As the fruit flavors begin to fade, the caramel/toffee malts bring in a nice sweetness that compliments the citrus well and attempts to balance out the bitter hops. However, it falls a little short of the latter and, instead, Pinball ends with a light lingering piney bitterness and dries out your palate a little.

While the beer is being drained from my glass, the head continues to lace the glass. The entire length of the my cup is covered with bubbles and well-defined lines of foam.

Overall, Pinball is a really delicious beer. Is it my favorite? No, but it certainly is up there. I love the flavors up front and it smells as good as any beer I can remember. But, for me, the backend of the sip just doesn’t continue what this beer initially has. That being said, it’s still a great pale ale and I think you should certainly try it.

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