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Belt’s Beer Garden: Changing it up

This week I add a minor tweak as well as reviewing Monday Night Brewing’s Eye Patch & Noon Whistle’s Gummy Vortex


Some 875 days ago (but who’s counting) I began Belt’s Beer Garden and, after those two and a half years, I decided to make a slight change.

As you all know, I have used the rating system of 1-10 since the start. However, as this is a COLLEGE sports blog...I figured I should make it more “educational”. And, therefore, from now on I will be giving beers a letter grade using the standard grading format:

95+ = A+; 95 = A; 90 = A-
85+ = B+; 85 = B; 80 = B-
75+ = C+; 75 = C; 70 = C-
65+ = D+; 65 = D; 60 = D-
Under 60 = F

So, without further ado, let’s get started with another BBG first.

I decided to do things a little different this week and, on my way home from work, I picked up a growler from a local brewery: Noon Whistle.

Noon Whistle calls Lombard, Illinois home and has been around since 2014. They focus on creating session beers (under 5% ABV) but have a large variety of brews both above and below 5%.

As it’s on my way home from work, I’ve stopped in quite a few times. But, when I stopped in this week, I saw their newest beer and instantly knew I needed to take it home with me.

Gummy Vortex is their take on the newest craft beer fad – Northeast IPAs – which I happen to really enjoy. It’s made with Citra and Simcoe hops and packs a punch with a 7.5% ABV. Currently you can only this beer at the brewery (but it’s worth the trip). A pint runs you $6 and a new growler fill (64 ounces) costs $27.

This NE IPA pours a super hazy burnt orange color with minimal head building up (not sure if that’s just because it’s from the growler or if it usually has a tiny amount of foam). There is only a tiny ring of white bubbles that circle the edge of my glass.

However, it doesn’t need that much head with an aroma like this. It’s part of the reason I love this style of IPA so much. Tropical fruits and a whole lot of orange flowed out from the beer. Behind all the citrus, there was some light pine and hints of bready and nutty malts that worked to back up the hops.

I was ready to dig in.

The beer starts with a fizzle of carbonation and a heap of hops up front. Then the flavors subtly came forward, and they were lighter than I was expecting from the aroma. The orange and tangerine were there but the pine was also much more noticeable. It was a blend of the three, with each flavor coming out briefly to say hello.

As the flavors began to seep away it was the pine and a strong hoppy bitterness that were left lingering on my tongue - but only for a few moments.

However, the longer Gummy Vortex was in my glass and warmed up, the more it seemed to smooth out. The bitterness seemed to calm down and the juicy orange aspect of the beer seemed to pop more, taking over from the pine. It’s a beer that definitely needs to sit for a few moments before drinking.

The high alcohol content was hardly noticeable…until the very end when it all hits you. The little bit of foam that remained barley laced my glass, leaving light streaks sporadically across the cup.

Overall, this was a pretty good NE IPA and definitely worth a visit to their taproom. It wasn’t quite as juicy or flavorful as others of this style, but it was still tasty. Noon Whistle has quickly become one of my go-to breweries from the Chicago suburbs…and this beer is just another reason why.

Next up, a Georgian beer that thinks “Weekends are Overrated”.

Monday Night Brewing started in Atlanta, Georgia after some friends from a Bible study wanted to get to know each other better. From there they worked together to open MNB to the public in 2006.

Today they have a slew of seasonal/specialty beers and six year round brews…including three IPAs (note: if anyone sends me their Blind Pirate Blood Orange IPA I’ll forever be indebted to you!!). You can find them throughout Georgia and Alabama.

On a recent trip to Georgia, my brother snagged me their Eye Patch IPA, one of their three year round IPAs – Eye Patch IPA.

Eye Patch is made with Cascade, Columbus, Magnum, and Simcoe hops and Marris Otter malt with a dash of Rye malt as well. It comes with a price tag of $2 for a 12 ounce bottle as well as a 6.2% ABV and a modest 42 IBU.

This IPA poured a cloudy golden copper color with quite a lot of sediment…at first I couldn’t tell if the beer was hazy or if there was just that much floating around (it was mostly just cloudy). Just about a finger of nearly tan head built up and, almost as quickly, disappeared into a fine dusting across the top.

On the nose the hops took the lead; there was some pine, a light floral note, and some slight citrus fruit smells as well. Even though the hops took the lead up front, you could definitely tell what exactly the malt added – bready and caramel notes that would do their best to cut into the bitterness.

Up front this beer had a pretty light body and started with was some mild carbonation; just enough to fizzle its way across your tongue before the flavors came out to play. From there the beer followed the aroma pretty well.

Initially there is a light zesty lemon and orange flavor before the pine and crackery malt pushed the fruits out of the way. The whole backend was a battle between the pine and bread…with neither giving an inch. On some sips there was a hint of melon that appeared towards the final part of the taste but those sips were sporadic and few and far between.

Because of the long battle between the two main ending flavors, Eye Patch finished very nicely. There was no lingering bitterness or dryness…it all just ends. Although, as the beer warmed up some, it did become dryer and dryer…the rye malt kicking in here.

This was a really well balanced IPA. The flavors were all there and, I found it was actually very sessionable. I could easily have three or more of these in a night. Eye Patch was a great introduction to Monday Night Brewing and I can’t wait to try more from them…especially that Blind Pirate! If you’re near Atlanta, give them a try.