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Belt’s Beer Garden: Surly-ously?

New creations from Surly and 3 Floyds

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Surly is the biggest thing to come out of Minnesota since…well…maybe ever. 3 Floyds, is probably the biggest thing to come out of Indiana since Larry Bird (or perhaps Ron Swanson).

Late last year Surly’s former head brewer, Todd Haug, made the decision to leave Surly for a different huge Midwest brewery – 3 Floyds - which created a pretty big splash.

Today I try two of the newest beers from each of these breweries.

Surly began selling beer out of their Minneapolis brewery back in 2006 and quickly grew and expanded to what they are today. Right now they are still only available in the Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin), but look for that to change soon.

And, even with Haug gone, Surly continues to put out new and exciting beers like the one I have for you today: Unbridled.

Unbridled is a wild IPA that was made with 100% Brettanomyces yeast and Motueka, Pacific Gem, Wakatu, and Warrior hops in addition to two malt varieties and two types of oats. It’s sold in 750 mL (25.4 ounce) bottles for $8.99 and has a solid 7.5% ABV.

It poured a dark orangey-copper color with about two and half fingers of dense tan head. The foam sat atop the beer for quite some time before faded down (as is the case with most Brett beers).

On the nose Unbridled has that strong yeasty scent from the Brettanomyces but also some nice sweet qualities. There is a pink bubblegum scent that really intrigues me. But along side the gum, there are some fruit notes (lemon and berries mostly) and a light peppery quality.

The aroma was quite nice; and I was ready to dive right in!

My first sip starts with the yeasty carbonated fizz that all Brett beers have and, from there, the flavors slowly rose to the surface. There was a nice floral taste and some zesty lemon up front which slowly got pushed to the side by the pepper and bubblegum notes I picked up in the smell.

There wasn’t a flavor that really stood out. Instead all the different tasting notes blended together to create a smooth symphony of seasonings that danced across your palate briefly. Some sips had the gum taste emerge the most, others had the citrusy lemon, and yet others still had the floral and spicy pepper take the lead.

However, the Brett flavors really took the lead, making this beer less bitter/IPA-ish and way more funky/farmhouse-like. The only consistent thing about Unbridled was the strong carbonation and the smoother mouthfeel.

At 7.5%, it has a nice punch to it that you’ll never feel coming. There is no alcohol taste or burn…you just feel the effects towards the end of the bottle.

And, as the beer is emptied from the glass, those pesky bubbles still don’t want to leave. Instead they lace the glass really well – creating well defined lines and cloud formations across the face of the cup.

Unbridled is a really tasty Brett IPA. But the 750 mL bottle is best to be shared. The high ABV mixed with the high carbonation levels will really leave you quite full if you attempt this by yourself (as I have foolishly done). But the flavors, and price, are on point.

If you can find this by you, do yourself a favor and check it out.

A-

3 Floyds has a huge cult following and, any self-respecting craft beer fan has heard of/knows they need to try FFF’s Zombie Dust and Gumballhead before they die.

But today I found one of their newer creations – Floy Division I.

Like I mentioned above, the former head brewer of Surly headed to 3 Floyds last year and this is one of the first beers I’ve tried from FFF since he made the transition so I’m curious to see how this beer is.

Floy Division I is the first in a series of IPAs that 3 Floyds is/has released using experimental hops (I’ve seen up to five now). The 22-ounce bomber goes for $10 (so it’s slightly cheaper than most of their brews, which are usually around $12) and comes with a 7.5% ABV and 85 IBU.

This IPA poured a super bright and hazy golden copper color with just about two fingers of pure white foam topping the beer. The pretty dense head sticks around for a few minutes before finally fading down into just a dusting across the surface.

Floy Division has an interesting blend of aromas emanating from the brew. It’s a blend of light pine and tropical fruits…but not just those normal fruits you find in beer. Sure, some pineapple and mango were easily picked up but there were also stone fruit and coconut scents as well.

For a 3 Floyds beer, it certainly didn’t have the usual hop bite to the aroma…I was really excited to dive into this one.

It starts with a creamy, thicker mouthfeel – almost like a stout or nitro beer – with almost no carbonation to it. The flavors the subtly built up before they all just decided to smack me in the face. And this one had some interesting tasting notes.

Up front you get the mango, pineapple, and other citrusy notes; then the flavors take an interesting turn. The coconut and pine combine on the backend, creating an odd combination that was half IPA and half piña colada.

As the flavors fade, there is a hoppy bitterness (those 85 IBU really showing themselves here) and piney aftertaste that lingers long after the liquid has been drank. The bitter sting just seemed to not want to leave, staying for quite some time and actually made me grab a sip of water to cut into it…now that’s how I remember 3 Floyds beers being!

Like the flavors, the bubbles don’t seem to want to leave either. As I drank the beer down further and further, Floy Division laced my glass completely (except for the area I drank from). My glass was 80% covered by tiny bubble clouds by the time I got half way done.

Overall this was quite the intriguing beer. I’m not sure how I feel about it…it had its good and bad moments. The mouthfeel is just a tad too thick for me and the taste was 50/50. The flavors in the first half are awesome, the flavors in the second half are confusing, and the lingering notes aren’t so great.

Any fan of 3 Floyds or IPAs should try this one…just for the experience alone. But for those that don’t like hops…I’d recommend you stay away, as this probably won’t be your forte.