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Belt’s Beer Garden: Wood you like a beer?

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Lumberyard’s Flagstaff & Avery’s Ginger Sour

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This week my theme comes from the trees, as I bring you a beer from Lumberyard and another that was aged in oak barrels.

First up, from northern Arizona, Lumberyard Brewing:

Lumberyard Brewing is located in Flagstaff, Arizona and has been since their inception in 2010 when they converted an old lumberyard building into a brewery. Today they have seven year round beers that you can find all over Arizona…the only state you can find them in still.

I found a six-pack of their Flagstaff IPA for the usual price of $10. What’s not usual is moderate ABV combined with the huge IBU rating. At 90 IBU it has a TON of hoppy bitterness (or at least it should) but only a 6.1% ABV. Most American IPAs are between 40-75 IBU…so this has the hops of a DIPA (usually 75-120 IBU) but the ABV of a regular IPA.

Anyway, their year-round IPA poured a coppery-amber hue with just about two fingers of light tan head building up atop the liquid. The dense bubbles stuck around for quite a while, slowly fading downward and lacing the top of my glass on their journey. I could tell that this was the type of head that leaves crisp lines after every sip.

There was quite a balance to Flagstaff IPA. And by balance, I mean the hops created a nice combination of pine, citrus, and earthy notes…the malts were all but hidden in the aroma and it was very hop forward but, at 90 IBU, that didn’t surprise me much. For a hop-head, I like the aroma and was ready to dive in.

My first taste had surprisingly little carbonation and the body was on the lighter side, almost watery. But luckily the flavors were still all there.

It started with some bitter grassy notes that were quickly overpowered by big and bold citrus flavors. Grapefruit was the most prominent of those, although some orange and lemon flavors would occasionally show up.

Adding to the sweetness of the fruits, there was a lightly bready toasted malt flavor, most likely Crystal malt, which really calmed down the hop bite that could have been.

I’m not saying there wasn’t a hop bite because, as soon as the flavors began to fade away on the backend, a piney bitterness finished off the sip. The hoppy sting lingered for a little while between tastes, as did a semi-dry mouthfeel.

As the beer left my tulip glass (probably faster than it should have), my prediction about the lacing came true. There were well-defined lines covering my glass…but the foam didn’t stop there and, instead, it decided to coat almost every inch of the sides.

Overall though, this was a really well made IPA - lots of hops with just the right amount of malt to cut them down and really quell the 90 IBU. It drank like a lighter, moderate IPA…nowhere near as bitter as listed. So, well done Lumberyard!

Flagstaff had loads of citrus flavor with just enough pine and earthy notes to make this an enjoyable IPA for any fan of the style. If you’re in Arizona and looking for a good IPA…this might just be the one for you.

Next I go one state up to Colorado for Avery’s new release.

Avery, out of Boulder, Colorado, has been around for a very long time. It was way back in 1993 that they opened their doors and, since then, they have become one of the nation’s leading craft breweries…so it makes sense that you can find their beers pretty much nationwide (there are a few spots out east that might not have them).

I haven’t had a ton from Avery but their sixth, and newest, release in their Botanicals & Barrels Series sounded really good.

Ginger Sour, which is exactly what it sounds like (a ginger infused sour ale) is then barrel aged in oak barrels so the flavors can really shine. Available only in 22 ounce bottles, the beer doesn’t come cheap…costing $12.99 for the bomber. But, at 7.7% ABV, it’s got a really solid alcohol base.

This sour ale poured a dark amber, slightly orangeish hue with about a finger of head topping the beer. The loud fizzing bubbles quickly disintegrated into just a thin ring of tiny white bubbles along the edge of the glass.

On the nose Ginger Sour was pretty self explanatory. The sharp tartness of a sour beer battled it out with the stinging ginger aroma, with neither really winning. Instead, it changed with each whiff. Half the time the ginger overpowering the tartness; the other half the sour notes made me prepare for some mouth-puckering tartness.

My first taste began with a carbonated fizz that lasted well into the sip…in fact it lasted almost the entire duration. It was only a sign of things to come.

As with the aroma, the flavors once again were at war…this time my tongue was the battlefield and neither side gave in. First it was a sharp, tart lemon flavor that lasted just a mere moment or two before the spicy ginger pounced.

Once the ginger hit my taste buds though, it didn’t kill the sour. Instead, the two continued to slug it out and created a weird, but tasty, balance of spice and sour that slowly fizzled away. There was a just a hint of oaky flavor from the barrel aging process but this beer is all about its namesake – purely ginger and sour.

And, somehow, it worked. Somehow the tartness and the bite from the ginger worked together. Now, as a fan of sours and ginger, I was able to enjoy both of these. But if you’re not a fan of both of those, it probably will be too harsh for you. Even if you’re a fan of just one of those things, it still might be a little much…just trying to save you some time and money.

The higher ABV remained well hidden, even at nearly 8%. I guess it was hiding behind the burn from the ginger but it was never really an issue. What was a slight issue was that there was so much tartness and so much spice to it that towards the end of the bomber I did get some heartburn…so I recommend sharing this one.

But overall, Ginger Sour was actually surprisingly good. It was quite gingery and pretty damn tart, with the addition of my heartburn being the one downfall. As long as you like sour beers and loads of ginger you’ll be okay. If not, I’d stay away.