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Belt’s Beer Garden: New Releases

Two beers that literally just came out: Marz Mega Machine & Hop Butcher Traveling Scientist

neon3

Today I have two Chicago brews that came out no more than seven days ago...they’re that fresh.

Let’s start with an imperial version of one of my favorite pale ales.

Marz Community Brewing has slowly been climbing the ranks of best breweries in Chicago for quite some time now and…after years of producing great beers, they have finally become a staple for beer lovers in the Windy City.

In my opinion, one of their best beers is The Machine – a super tasty pale ale. Well, exactly one week ago, they dropped a new double IPA variant of that brew.

Their new release, Mega Machine, a double IPA, takes that original beer and makes it stronger, bolder, and, of course, hoppier. Mega Machine is loaded with Amarillo, Motueka, and Nelson Sauvin hops and packs a solid punch with a 7.6% ABV. It’s solid in 4-packs of 12-ounce cans which, at $14.99, cost a tad higher than average but, if it’s as good as the original, I’ll gladly shell that out.

Mega Machine poured a super hazy, murky brownish-orange color that a lot of the super-tasty NE IPAs have…as if I wasn’t excited enough to try this brew.

There was just a thin layer of head that ever built up; no more than a fingers worth of sticky, white bubbles ever showed up and, the foam that did appear, stayed tucked around the edge of the glass.

On the nose it was a total juice bomb. There were huge notes of tropical fruits with pineapple taking a commanding lead in front of all the other fruits. However, mango, melon, and grapefruit rind could also be found in the aroma, as well as some oats and a slightly yeasty/bready backing.

There was very little carbonation as I took my first sip. Instead, the cold beer shocked my taste buds with a slightly sweet flavor. The breadiness struck first with hints of grain, oats, and caramel.

From there, I got a zing of tartness as the tropical fruits began to overpower the malts. It began, as the smell did, with a huge pineapple flavor. The combination of a bitter twinge and the smack of pineapple almost made me think I had bitten into the actual fruit and, had more flavors not shown up, I might have forgotten altogether that I had just taken a sip of beer.

However, the other fruits were a bit more subtle than the pineapple and actually helped create a much more flavorful and balanced beer. I could pick up on honeydew melon and that bitter grapefruit rind next with hints of lemon and lime sitting behind everything else.

The hops danced across my palate with those big and bold tropical fruit flavors for about twenty seconds or so before, as if someone had flipped a switch, they all vanished with out a trace…mostly.

There was one thing left lingering on after everything else had gone away – a sticky, slightly bitter, pineapple. It reminded me of when I drank the very end of one of these cans…just all sticky-sweet concentrated pineapple juice.

Mega Machine was a very easy to drink DIPA…super juicy and sticky-sweet. There was no real bitter bite to it and it hid the 7.6% alcohol really well. And, while it might not be as tasty as I remember The Machine being, it was certainly close…especially if you’re a fan of pineapple.

A-

Up next, an all Citra pale ale that was canned 8 days ago and released last Friday.

A few months ago, I featured the brewery, Hop Butcher For the World, and liked their beer so much I decided to try one of their newest releases – a beer that also just came out a mere seven days ago.

Hop Butcher is still looking for a home to call their own and, until they do, they’ll call the Chicago suburb of Darien home. They only have a local distribution still so only the Chicagoland area has access to them, for now, but if you’re in the area be sure to grab a few of their brews…like I did with this new one, Traveling Scientist.

Traveling Scientist is kind of a collaboration. It’s an American pale ale brewed with Citra hops and hop oils distilled from Arcane Distilling out of Brooklyn, New York…so, while Hop Butcher is the sole brewer, they did receive some help from Arcane ingredients. It’s got a solid base, at 5.75% ABV, and has a slightly higher price point - $13 for four 16-ounce cans.

It poured a somewhat murky orange color with roughly a finger of sticky, dense, off-white head topping it off. The foam had some solid staying power and laced my glass even before I had taken a sip.

This beer was chalked full of super bright citrus fruits. It was led by a surprisingly dank mango aroma with a somewhat resinous characteristic to it. There was also grapefruit, orange, and lemon lingering behind the massive mango.

My first swig had a very light carbonation fizz to start it off before the hops/hop oil kicked in. The flavors popped with a ripe, juicy mango burst before the other fruits seemed to all blend together and calm the mango flavor. Orange and tangerine were the next biggest tasting notes with just a dash of grapefruit rind sneaking in as well.

It was a very sessionable brew up front…but, midway through, as the flavors started to drop off, something changed some.

The hop oil took a step up to the plate. There was a somewhat artificial taste that appeared towards the backend, leaving a sticky resin that coated my tongue, and a grapefruit rind bitterness that lasted well after everything else.

I couldn’t shake that sticky feeling that grabbed hold of my tongue and held on for dear life. It took a few gulps of water to finally free myself from it.

So, while Traveling Scientist was a very tasty, very easy to drink beer up front, the ending was just a tad too sticky and dry for me to love. But, as a whole, this was certainly a beer worth paying the extra few dollars for (if you can find it).