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Belt’s Beer Garden: Selling Out

This week two corporate owned beers get reviewed. Blue Point’s Citrus Plunge & Elysian’s Gorillas on Bikes

neon3

As a craft beer fan I’m supposed to hate AB In-Bev (those pesky people over at Budweiser) because they continue to buy up good breweries…and, for the most part I do. But I don’t hate all the breweries that they control. A lot of people leave a brewery once it gets bought out (see what happened to Wicked Weed!)

But, to some extent, I get selling out to them…it’s the ultimate goal really. However, I hate that these places can still call themselves “craft breweries” even though they’re owned by the Big Guys. I feel like they need to have an “*” next to their name or something just to let you know that they’re owned by someone else. It’s only right.

The whole craft beer movement isn’t just about beer. Yes, it’s about good beer (which is why I still drink some corporate-owned brews) but rather it’s about supporting local breweries...the little guys; the MACs of the beer world. And I’d much rather support actual local businesses than the conglomerate.

Where is this all going? Well I recently purchased the Hop Jam IPA Boxed Set, which is a mixed pack of fruit IPAs. Everyone that reads this knows I love that style. Sadly, even before buying it, I knew that all four of the breweries represented were owned by AB In-Bev. For me though, I just like trying new beers even though I hate that they’re all owned by the Bad Guy…especially 10 Barrel (I really do love them). But, despite that, I’m going to share a few of them on here anyway; it’s just too bad that most people don’t know who their money ends up going to.

OK, END RANT.

Like I said, I recently got a boxed set of fruit IPAs. And, for the steep price of $17.99, you get 12 summer IPAs, three of each – 10 Barrel’s Razz Berry, Goose Island’s Peach Fuzz, Elysian’s Gorillas on Bikes (a grape IPA), and Blue Point’s Citrus Plunge.

A raspberry IPA and a peach IPA are pretty self explanatory so I’m going to focus on the last two today; Citrus Plunge and Gorillas on Bikes.

First up, Blue Point’s Citrus Plunge.

Blue Point is from Patchogue, New York, which is on the southern end of Long Island. They opened back in 1998 but were bought out by Budweiser in 2014 (for just under $24 million). Currently they’re available across the east coast with a few other states getting them too (Ohio, Michigan, and now parts of Illinois).

Their summer IPA, Citrus Plunge, packs a solid punch with a 6.8% ABV and 60 IBU and is available between March and September.

Citrus Plunge poured a bright orangey copper color with just under two fingers of white head topping the beer. The airy foam stayed for a little while before disappearing down into a light dusting across the top and a small accumulation around the edges of the glass. Inside the beer was a TON of sediment…it had almost as much as a fully pulped OJ.

The aroma was surprisingly not all citrus. I was expecting a purely juicy/citrus-filled aroma but there was a lot more than just that. Oh sure, there was a ton of citrus fruit – orange and pineapple mostly – but there was also some sweet and sticky honey and, lingering behind it all, some piney hop notes and a lightly toasted malt backing.

My first taste started with a smooth and slightly creamier mouthfeel with just a pinch of carbonation. From there the flavors slowly worked their way across my taste buds. The orange and pineapple were once again prominent but the honey really pushed its way forward as well. The otherwise tart citrus fruits were immensely calmed but the sugary sweet honey and malts.

Towards the middle of the sip the carbonation once again spiked on my tongue before quickly tapering off and allowing the flavors to continue their job.

On the backend was an incredibly balanced showing between the hops and malt. There was a battle between the caramel malt and citrus fruits to see who could outlast the other.

(Spoiler Alert) It was the citrus and hops. The sip ends on a light bitter twinge and a semi-long aftertaste that consists of orange, pine, and a dash of honey.

As I continued to drink the beer down, the 6.8% ABV was really well hidden and only showed up once or twice towards the very end of the bottle. And, those few pesky bubbles that did remain, laced my glass relatively well. There were some nice long, stringy clouds that streaked across the sides.

I must say, overall this is a pretty good brew. I know it’s owned by the enemy and all, but the brewers at Blue Point clearly did something right before they got bought out and have continued that now.

I only wish there was actually more citrus in CITRUS Plunge. Yes, the orange and pineapple were there but I was hoping to get more of that and less of the honey and malt. Otherwise, it’s a decent IPA with some good balance and good flavors.

Next up, Elysian and their Gorillas on Bikes.

Much like 10 Barrel, I really like Elysian. But the Seattle brewery has one of the biggest hypocritical beers on the market…their Loser pale ale has the words “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” on the label! You do realize that you’ve been a corporate brewery since early 2015, right? Maybe change that…

Anyway, I won’t hold that against the review of their Gorillas on Bikes, which is a grape IPA made with Concord grapes and a trio of hops (Hallertau Blanc, Nelson Sauvin, and Simcoe). The bottle packs a nice 8.1% ABV and an unknown IBU.

It poured a super hazy, dark amber color with about two fingers of foam. The slightly pink, mostly off-white, head was both fluffy and incredibly dense.

On the nose the grapes and Nelson Sauvin hops give it a similar aroma to that of a white wine – slightly sharp with sweet grapes. Behind the grape there are biscuity/bready malt and grainy notes too that remind you it is a beer, not wine.

My first sip begins with a creamy smooth mouthfeel that is thicker than most IPAs…like a nitro/IPA hybrid. From there the flavors subtly build throughout my palate.

The Concord grapes don’t overpower the hops and, instead, blend well with the Hallertau and Sauvin hops to create a sweet, but not overly sweet, grape flavor that is immediately balanced out by the biscuity malt.

It smells like a white wine but has flavors more like that of a red; stronger and with some light tannins. There is a light peppery flavor and some heat from the high ABV about midway through that also is very red wine-esque.

Towards the end of the sip, there was a sharp tartness that flashed on my tongue before disappearing again. The backend of Gorillas on Bikes is surprisingly smooth. There’s no real aftertaste and no lingering bitterness; it ends super cleanly. In fact, there’s almost no bitter hop bite throughout the beer.

Gorillas on Bikes uses the few bubbles that remained quite effectively, as the entire side of my glass was lined with sip marks and random cloud formations.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed this one. The grapes and hops created a wine-like (which I’m not usually a fan of) brew that had all the good qualities of a beer. It had great flavors, a nice ABV, and was very easy to drink. Possibly a little too easy if you ask me…one might be enough for a night though…Nah.