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Belt’s Beer Garden: Orange you glad I have beer?

Anchor’s Blood Orange Blonde & Pipeworks G&T


This week as summer finally sets in, a few more brews infused with fruit..including one that’s a take on an old cocktail!

First up, because I love me some blood oranges...Anchor’s Blood Orange Blonde.

Anchor is the oldest craft brewery in the US. Despite some slow times during prohibition and in the early 70s, Anchor has been brewing up beers in San Francisco since 1896 (what!?!). Since they’ve been around for 121 years, it should come as no surprise that you can find them across the country in every state.

They’re known around the world for their staple brew, Anchor Steam, which was their first beer made way back when. Over the past century they’ve added some other beers too; like a lager, a west coast IPA, and (more recently) some fruit ales. They recently released a lemon lager, a mango wheat, and a blood orange blonde.

I went with the blonde ale creatively called Anchor Blood Orange Blonde. The beer come with a modest 4.5% ABV and is made with two hops and two malts. A six-pack is very reasonably priced (even in Chicago!) at just $8.99.

This bright, clean ale poured a golden straw color with a plethora of head flowing upwards. The fluffy white foam hit three fingers high before it began to fade downwards. As it began to fizzle out, it left some randomly placed thick cloudy patches across my glass.

The nose of Blood Orange Blonde was similar to most blonde ales – light and crisp with some slight peppery spice from the yeast – but with one noticeable difference. The sweet and sticky juice from the blood oranges added some nice bursts of citrus fruit to the otherwise pretty standard aroma.

My first taste starts with just a dash of light carbonation. The bubbly sparkle made way for the flavors, which were quite subtle and subdued. The malts hit with a sweet caramel flavor that is balanced out nicely by the slightly tart blood oranges. Then, backing the whole flavor, there is an earthy and slightly floral flavor from the yeast and hops.

The peppery spice shows itself momentarily as all the flavors begin to fade away slowly. Blood Orange Blonde then ends with a hint of dryness that makes you want to reach for another swig as soon as possible.

The flavors are all there and none of the ingredients overpower each other…although, the blood oranges are not quite as present as I would have liked them to be. They’re a solid background ingredient but would’ve liked them a bit more in the foreground.

That being said, a lot of times when fruit juice is added to beers it can make them super dry and sticky. But that didn’t happen with this brew…sure, it’s a little dry but the blood orange doesn’t cling to your taste buds like with other beers.

Overall, this is a good summer beer. It’s a very light and easy to drink beer with a modest ABV that means you can be drinking this all day long. The blood oranges being used more so in the background than foreground means it’s not sticky but there isn’t nearly that citrusy jolt I was hoping for. Still pretty tasty though!

Next up, a brewery you should all be familiar with by now...Pipeworks and their new G&T.

Pipeworks is the most reviewed brewery on BBG – this is the seventh beer to appear. The Chicago brewery has been around since 2009 but really took off around 2012. I can’t think of a single Chicagoan that dislikes their beers…they’re that good.

Unfortunately for the rest of the country, they don’t have a huge distribution. However, you can find them in Illinois, Colorado, New York, Connecticut, and the city of Boston.

They usually specialize in IPAs but do a lot of small batch brews as well. This week I found a bomber I’ve never seen before – G&T, a gin and tonic inspired ale made with limes, schisandra berries, and bitter root. The 22-ounce bottle is very reasonably priced at $6.99 and comes with a moderate 6% ABV.

G&T poured a creamy bright golden orange color that reminded me of a NE IPA. Topping the beer was a finger of sticky dense white head that refused to leave…even after about five minutes of sitting the bubbles hadn’t diminished at all.

On the nose it wasn’t too far off from their inspiration. It was a hoppy gin and tonic; heavy doses of lime juice, hops, and dark berries lead the way. There is a light spice and gose-like funkiness to it hiding behind the lime.

Like the beer poured, my first sip started with a creamy, heavier mouthfeel – almost like a nitro beer. There was just the tiniest twinge of carbonation before the flavors slowly covered my taste buds.

The lime juice once again hit first with a slightly sour note before the schisandra berries (used in place of the juniper) added a slightly sweet taste that was quickly turned bitter from the bitter root and hops.

As the flavors all parted ways, my palate was left with some moderate dryness and a long lingering bitter aftertaste. The ending was not nearly as close to a gin and tonic as the start was.

Even though G&T is only 6% ABV, like its spirit counterpoint, the alcohol is actually detectable throughout the bottle. There is a slight boozy burn as it traverses its way down your throat and sits in your stomach…which really surprised me for being so low in ABV.

After I had gotten most of the way through the beer those stubborn bubbles from the beginning still stuck around. While there was only a thin dusting across the top of the beer, my glass was covered in lacing. A thin layer coated the sides of my tulip glass and, where I had been sipping from, was spotted with smaller cloud formations that slowly slid down towards the liquid below.

After all was said and done, this was a pretty tasty beer but it had some shortcomings…mostly on the backend of things. Initially, this was a very good representation of a gin and tonic but, as the hops took over at the end, it left that lingering bitterness flavor that just didn’t do it for me. I like Pipeworks…but they’ve done better.