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Belt’s Beer Garden: It’s Getting Hot in Here

Sleepy Dog’s Desert Dog & Tangled Roots’ Devil’s Paint Box

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Today I have a couple desert/heat themed brews that will help me remember just how nice summer was.

First up, an Arizona brewery that just expanded to another state.

Sleepy Dog comes from Tempe, Arizona and has been around since 2009. And, like many Arizona residents (who have moved from the cold Chicago climate), they share a bond with Illinois…which is why the Land of Lincoln is the only other state you can find their brews right now.

Their year-round pale ale, Desert Dog, is packed with Citra hops and costs less than usual, at just $9 per six pack. Each can comes with a moderate 4.9% ABV and just 31 IBU.

This pale ale poured a slightly translucent copper color with minimal head. No more than half a finger of thin, eggshell white foam ever built up and quickly faded down into a tiny line around the edge of the glass.

On the nose, Desert Dog was surprisingly sweet and balanced. The malt provided a light breadiness and a very solid caramel characteristic that nearly controlled the entire aroma. There were also some light citrus notes as well – mostly orange, lemon, and grapefruit – but, overall, this was an incredibly balanced aroma.

My first sip started off with a surprising sting of carbonation and a much more watery mouthfeel than I was expecting. The fizz seemed to last well into the taste and forced the flavors to slowly crawl up from the effervescence.

It was more hop-centric than the smell had me thinking it would be but still managed to keep some of the balance in flavor. The citrus took the lead, with the grapefruit rind charging forward and being followed close behind by a somewhat tart lemon and orange flavor.

Some biscuity malt and light caramel sweetness bloomed across my taste buds after a few moments and played nicely with the tropical fruit flavors.

The hops regained control towards the backend of everything and brought with it a slightly dry, slightly bitter twinge and incorporated more of that citrus fruit rind flavor on my taste buds.

As it all fades out, the only thing remaining was that dry feeling and a tickle of carbonation that seemed to last well after everything else had gone.

Overall, this was a nice, easy to drink pale ale. For me there was too much carbonation that joined in on each swig but I did enjoy the nice balance in the flavor. It was citrus forward with that malty sweetness that sits in the background and adds just a touch to the flavor while cutting any harsh bitterness.

Solid, but nothing too special.


Up next, an up-and-coming Illinois brewery NOT located in Chicago.

Tangled Roots is right outside of Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa, Illinois. They strive to have a “farm-to-foam” beer experience and use as many local ingredients as possible. You can find them throughout Chicagoland right now.

Today I have their staple IPA, Devil’s Paint Box, which comes packed with a 6.66% ABV. A six-pack of bottles will run you the normal $10.

Devil’s Paint Box poured a cloudy copper color with just about two fingers of off-white head billowing up. The dense and heavy foam stuck around for a while and laced the glass nicely as it disappeared.

The aroma was a mixed bag of hops with just a dash of malt lingering in the background. Citrus fruit and pine lead the way. Grapefruit, zesty lemon and lime, and hints of other tropical fruits (like mango, melon, and passion fruit) were blended together while those earthy notes of pine and tree nuts were peeking through.

My first swig started with just a tiny dash of carbonation that really allowed the flavors to flow right out of the gate.

It began with a sweet and somewhat juicy tropical fruit flavor. Mango and grapefruit lead the way with some smooth honeydew melon following close behind. The light pine and earthy elements I picked up on in the aroma were all but hidden by the citrus burst Devil’s Paint Box started off with.

Midway through a bitter bite settled in on my taste buds and brought with it more mango and grapefruit flavors, although this time with that sting from the hops.

This brew was surprisingly juicy and had a somewhat thicker mouthfeel than I was expecting. The flavors and texture seemed to be a blend between styles…like a combination between a West Coast IPA and a New England IPA.

It was a pretty decent and easy to drink IPA. If it’s available near you, it’s certainly worth a shot.