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Belt’s Beer Garden: Vic’s Secret

A couple brews hopped up with Vic Secret hops - Energy City Milkshake Nawi Mango & Avery Go Play IPA

neon3

Today I have a couple brews made with Australian hop Vic Secret...including a special rare beer from an up-and-coming brewery close to my home that I wanted to share with you all.

I’d like to start with the new kid on the block - Energy City - because people outside Chicago should know about them.

Energy City is a tiny brewery in Batavia, Illinois that’s starting to make big waves around the area. Founded in late 2017, they are only open the first Saturday of every month (11-3 p.m.) and the second Friday of the month (6-9 p.m.) and have had huge lines ever since they’ve started selling beer.

With their massive popularity, they’ve recently been able to get a small distribution going throughout the suburbs but have yet to make their way into the city. Instead, you can find all the current restaurants/bars/stores that get their beers here.

Today, I have their Milkshake Nawi Mango beer, a variant of their staple IPA, which I wanted to share with all of you. They started with their staple IPA, Hop Nawi, which uses Vic Secret and Galaxy hops and then amped it up a bit with the addition of mangos, lactose, and vanilla. The beer boasts a 7.2% ABV and, if you’re lucky enough to find it, a four-pack of 16-ounce cans will cost you the steep price of $18.99. But let’s see if it’s actually worth the cost.

Milkshake Nawi poured an incredibly hazy, super murky orange color with about a finger of slightly off-white foam topping the brew. The head stays for a while, slowly fading down into a dusting across the top and a small buildup around the edge.

The aroma was sweet vanilla and tropical fruit. Mango, however, was not the only standout fruit, as there was a medley of pineapple, light melon, and passion fruit that joined in with the mango.

Upon my first sip there was just the tiniest hint of carbonation and an incredibly heavy, creamy mouthfeel. From there, the hops provide a hint of bitterness that is quickly cut out by the sweet vanilla and tropical fruits.

The taste was surprisingly subtle and everything blended together really well.

The mango and vanilla struck first with a somewhat sticky, but not overly sweet, flavor. A lot of milkshake IPAs can over-indulge on the lactose and create a beer that’s just way too sweet…but not here. The lactose gives you a hint of sugar while not being overbearing and works well with the vanilla.

As the sip continues, there is a rush of mango that blooms across my taste buds around the midway point and, from that point on, everything begins to fade away. Including the moisture in my mouth.

This version of Nawi finishes quite dry and with a sugary-sweet resinous feeling that seemed to cling to my taste buds for a while after the sip was finished. And, as the beer warmed up, the dryness seemed to stick longer and longer.

But Energy City has created an incredibly smooth and easy to drink milkshake IPA that is not overly sweet nor does it sit overly heavy like I thought it might after my first swig. Instead, Milkshake Nawi Mango is tasty, drinkable, and almost worth the $19 cost.

A-

Next up, a brewery that need no introduction - Avery - and their newest year-round beer.

Avery, unlike Energy City, has been around a long time. Established in 1993 in Boulder, Colorado, Avery immediately took the beer community by storm and won a gold medal at the 1994 Great American Beer Festival.

Over the past twenty-five years, they have increased in popularity and production, and are now almost nationwide – you can find them in 40 states, Japan, and Sweden.

Today, I have one of their newer releases, Go Play IPA, which was released back in January as a new year-round beer. It’s brewed with Columbus, Idaho 7, Simcoe, and Vic Secret hops and is what they call an activated IPA since they have added sodium and potassium as well. A six-pack costs the usual $10 with each beer having a moderate 5.5% ABV and just 37 IBU.

Go Play poured a bright golden color with just about two fingers of bubbly eggshell white head topping it off. The foam quickly fizzled down to a few patchy spots and left a small accumulation around the edge.

An intriguing aroma emanated from the brew. Initially when poured the addition of the sodium gave Go Play a salty smell that reminded me of a gose or wit beer…but as the head fizzled away, so did that smell. And, hiding behind that, was a juicy IPA with notes of tropical fruit (like mango, grapefruit, and pineapple) with some bready malt characteristics.

My first taste began with a moderate sting from the carbonation and a slightly watery mouthfeel. The fizz from the carbonation continued on, leaving a low-lying buzz for most of the sip. From there, the tropical flavors really began to dance across my tongue with solid notes of grapefruit and pineapple leading the way.

Midway through the hops provide a light, somewhat dank, citrusy flavors while the sweet, crackery malts do a nice job of eliminating the bitterness while not taking away from the hops’ flavors.

As the flavors start to fade away, the salt (I’m assuming) comes back into play and starts to soak up all the water from my mouth. And, after all was said and done, the only thing that remained was a resinous, super dry feeling with a hint of orange rind.

This beer had some hits and misses. The initial aroma had me skeptical but, after trying it, Go Play started off tasty solid with those tropical flavors and light dankness. However, as the beer began to end, the dryness and sticky aftertaste had me smacking my lips in an effort to get my mouth re-hydrated.

It wasn’t bad though, Go Play had good flavors and was sessionable…but you’ll need a glass of water nearby just in case.