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Belt’s Beer Garden: One, Two, Tree

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One Tree’s Lemon Basil Cider & Belly Up’s Two Toed

neon3

Today I’m living the sloth life...just lazing around drink some nice ciders/beers. And here’s two I want to share with you.

First up, the little guy...Belly Up.

Belly Up Beer Co. opened up January 1st of 2016 in Western Springs, Illinois – a western suburb of Chicago. They’re still an infant in the craft beer community, brewing just 15 gallons of beer at a time in a basement and are only available in EIGHT locations around the western suburbs, mostly Binny’s (Chicago’s version of BevMo/Liquor Barn).

So far they’ve only released three beers (an IPA, a milk stout, and a wheat beer) and contrary to what you might think…this time I did NOT get the IPA, I went for their wheat beer – Two Toed.

Two Toed cost the standard price of $9.99 for a six-pack and each bottle comes with just 17 IBU and an ABV of 5.1%.

This wheat beer was brewed with copious amounts of orange peel and some coriander then lightly hopped with Apollo hops. It poured a murky straw color with just about a finger of white head bubbling up. The head doesn’t last too long though and, with in mere moments, there was just a small amount of foam left around the edge of my glass.

Two Toed has that light spice aroma that most wheat beers have but, what really stands out with this brew is the huge amount of coriander and orange in the scent…it basically took over the whole thing (especially the coriander).

My first taste starts with a mild carbonation fizz that ends up lasting nearly the entire sip. After a moment or two the coriander and orange really took hold of my taste buds, pounding them with delicious flavors.

The Apollo hops provide a light citrus/lemony flavor midway through the sip that paired really well with the orange and spice without adding any additional bitterness. As the sip fades away it ends slightly on the dry side – but just a slight, easy dryness – and finishes very clean with just a little bit of the coriander lingering afterwards.

I really enjoyed this wheat beer. The fruity hops are present enough to add some flavor without compromising the integrity of the beer while the wheat characteristics are all still there. The coriander is much more present than the orange but they share the stage nicely together.

Coriander is one of those ingredients that can just be too overwhelming in a beer…but Belly Up has added just enough to make it prominent without overpowering the rest of the beer. And, again, I really love the way the hops work with the orange to create a really nice citrusy burst midway through.

Overall, this is a really good wheat beer. I could drink these all summer (and I just might). Two Toed is super sessionable, very tasty, and priced right. This might be one of my favorite wits (right up there with last week’s entry: Pollyanna’s Summerly)…top notch!

Belly Up might not have a lot of beers on the market or a large distribution yet but you can tell that they’d rather focus on quality over quantity…and that is a great attribute.

A-

Next up, a rare appearance from a cider...this time out of Washington.

One Tree Cider began in 2014 in Spokane Valley, Washington. They have a variety of bold and interesting flavors that I hope to find soon (such as their Caramel Cinnamon or their Ginger cider). Currently they are available in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and now Chicagoland.

I had never seen One Tree Cider before a few weeks ago…but that makes sense because they just started distributing to Illinois on March 17th of this year. But, when I saw their Lemon Basil cider, I had to try it (I do seem to be attracted to basil ciders, as now two of the three ciders I’ve reviewed for BBG are basil ciders).

The 22-ounce bottle cost $6.99, so it wasn’t cheap but it certainly wasn’t expensive. And, at 6.6% ABV, it certainly is no slouch in the booze department.

This cider poured a muted yellowish-tan color with absolutely no head. Only a few bubbles linger around the edge of the glass, otherwise the top is completely devoid of head.

On the nose there is some of that typical cider smell – crisp, slightly dry apples – but then there is also a nice tartness added from the lemon and just a hint of basil lingering behind everything that smooths it all out. I haven’t had a ton of ciders, but this one definitely had a sweeter and less dry scent than most.

My first taste began with just the smallest dash of carbonation before the three main flavors kicked it into high gear. The sour lemons and tart, crisp apples kicked everything off and battled for supremacy of my taste buds for the first half of the sip.

Was this going to turn tart? Would the apples turn it sweeter?

And then, it was neither that happened. Instead, the basil came in and really calmed everything down, just as it had done in the aroma. The sweet and the sour blended with the herbal basil notes really well, making this cider really flavorful and really balanced.

With ciders I’m accustomed to there being some dryness at the end (even if they aren’t specifically dry ciders) but this one had barely any dryness at all. Instead there was a sugary-sweet lemon flavor that was left which, if anywhere, is where that hint of dryness came from.

As with most ciders, the booze is hidden completely…and, at 6.6% ABV, this one has a solid amount of alcohol in it.

Overall, this was a very tasty cider with very little drawbacks. There was very little dryness and a whole lot of flavor. I loved the balance between the apple, lemon, and basil that created a smooth, yet delicious, mixture where each ingredient stood out without stepping on one another.

If you’re not in the mood for a full fledged beer, this cider is a perfect substitute. Great for the summer months watching fireworks or after mowing the lawn…or even for just thinking about summer and why it’s taking forever to get here this year.

A-