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Belt’s Beer Garden: Pint-sized? Perfect!

A couple pints this week; Noon Whistle’s Hop Prism Blue & Old Nation’s M-43

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This week I feature brews that come in good ‘ol fashioned pints.

First up, from the Mitten, Old Nation and their M-43.

Old Nation Brewing calls the small city of Williamston, Michigan home (an eastern suburb of Lansing). They’ve been around since 2014 and have been building momentum ever since. From what I’ve seen, they’re still only available in Michigan and mostly around the Detroit/Lansing areas.

Today I have their M-43, which took the state by storm last summer.

M-43 is a New England IPA made with Amarillo, Calypso, Citra, and Simcoe hops along with pilsner, oat, and wheat malt. It’s part of their New Orthodox IPA Series with each can containing an above-average 6.8% ABV and a moderate 65 IBU. This beer has been a large part of their success lately and was even named Michigan’s Beer of the Year by Mlive.com.

But, there is a catch…M-43 isn’t cheap. A four-pack of 16-ounce cans runs around $14.99.

It poured all haze. M-43 had an incredibly murky straw color, like that of muddy water, with about a finger and a half of pure white head topping the beer. The foam slowly fizzled away into a light dusting with some accumulation around the edge but didn’t seem too sticky.

On the nose, this rendition of an NE IPA was all tropical citrus. Huge notes of orange, tangerine, and pineapple flowed from the liquid. Backing up all that juicy fruit was a nice wheaty/oaty malt base.

My first taste began with a dash of carbonation that quickly gave way to the flavors that followed. The hops burst through first with a light bitter sting that was followed a slightly sour orange and tangerine flavor.

It has a nice, pillowy mouthfeel to it and a subtle sweetness from the malts and citrus flavors.

Midway through the malts kicked in with a dash of toasted oats that sliced into the otherwise tropical hops. The malts didn’t remain the star long though as, almost immediately, the pineapple from the scent attacked my taste buds with a tart eruption. That sour sting of the pineapple really took over the sip for surprisingly long time towards the end.

As everything began to fade away it was the sweet citrus that lasted a little bit longer than everything else; that, along with a hoppy bite and some moderate dryness that lingered on for moments between sips.

The booze is hidden entirely in this one but there certainly is a nice hop presence leading to a moderate bitterness throughout each sip, making all 65 of those IBU known.

When all was said and done, M-43 was a really good New England IPA. There was a lot of great flavors and it was very easy to drink. I’m not a huge fan of pineapple so that long rush of pineapple sourness wasn’t my forte, but it was still a delightful brew.


Next up, Noon Whistle and their newest Hop Prism beer.

Noon Whistle, located in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, opened up almost exactly three years ago (mid-January of 2015). Today they offer six year round brews, a slew of seasonals, and have two separate IPA series that I thoroughly enjoy – their Gummy series (a variety of New England IPAs) and their Hop Prism series (brews made with a certain hop variety or two).

I have one from the later series – their Hop Prism Blue IPA.

Hop Prism Blue is made with Simcoe and Mosaic hops and comes with hefty 7.3% ABV. I found a lone can at one of my favorite beer shops, The Beer Cellar, for $3.50.

It poured a cloudy straw color with two fingers of fluffy off-white head building up. The head fizzled out slowly, leaving a nice accumulation building along the edges of the glass with a thin layer coating the rest.

On the nose, HP Blue was bursting with tropical fruit notes – pineapple, mango, grapefruit, and tangerine with some light melon and pear. Backing up the fruit is a twinge of hoppy bitterness and some crackery/bready malts.

My first sip started with a very mild carbonation that lead to a soft, semi-pillowy mouthfeel and moderately heavy body. The flavors then slowly coated my tongue; first there was a bitter sting that allowed the hops to open up and release those tropical fruits.

Grapefruit and pineapple lead the way but close behind were the tangerine and a lemon zest. The bready malts showed up early as well, calming down the hops some initially and imparting some sweetness to go with the tropical fruits.

Midway through it all, there was another pop from the hops that hit my taste buds…this time with some melon and a huge bitterness that really overshadowed the malts. But, as everything was coming to a close, the astringent hop bite seemed to fade some and allow the fruity flavors to bring the sip to the close.

There was a dash of dryness and some remaining hop flavors that lingered on for a few moments after each sip but, overall, it ended rather cleanly.

As the brew disappeared from my glass, there was some moderate lacing left; a few clouds here, some long stringy lines there; but nothing consistent or heavy.

All in all, Hop Prism Blue was a pretty tasty IPA from a very good suburban brewery. With a dominant hop profile and some bitterness, the beer leads with some strong tropical fruit notes and just a hint of malty sweetness.