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Belt’s Beer Garden: Man, oh man

Aleman’s The Man & LadiesMan

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Finding new beers in Chicago is a pretty hard thing for me to do these days. However, I just started seeing cans from a brewery I haven’t had before - Aleman.

Aleman is located by the Kilbourn Park neighborhood of Chicago and has been around for a few years but really started to make an appearance lately. Like I said, it was just recently that their cans started making appearances in liquor stores throughout Chicagoland. So, as I’ve never had any of their brews, I grabbed a couple to see what they’re all about.

Right now, they have seven seasonal beers to compliment their four core brews (a strong ale, a brown ale, an IPA, and a wit).

Naturally, my eyes went for their IPA but, as their wit sounded quite tasty too, I felt the need to try both.

As I tend to do…lets start with the hops!

Their year-round IPA, The Man, runs the typical $10 per six-pack with each can containing a moderate 40 IBU and a more impressive 6.8% ABV.

They don’t list what hops/malts The Man is brewed with; instead saying instead that it will be made with “a reliable malt bill with a rotating hop character based on whatever hops are fresh and making us particularly horny”.

The Man poured a light copper color with some lighter, orangey hues towards the bottom of the glass. There wasn’t too much head to this brew, just about half a finger of bright white head ever showed up and it was quickly whittled down to just a light gathering around the edge of the glass.

There was a nice mixture of hoppy aromas flowing from the brew. There was a blend of sweet caramel malts, earthy floral notes, some tart citrus fruits, and a semi-spicy piney/nutty undertone that had me quite curious as to which flavor profile would show up most in the taste.

I guess there was only one way to find out.

As soon as I took my first sip, my mouth was met with a nice little burst of carbonation that seemed to last much longer on my tongue than it did building up the head.

And, much like with the scent of this brew, there was a massive mixture of flavors that followed the carbonation. At first there were soft floral and grassy notes that slowly gave way to a slightly tart citrusy burst that featured lemon, grapefruit, and oranges.

A pretty nice dose of bready and caramel malts followed suit, leading to a rather sweet, but balanced, brew initially.

However, the hops really separated themselves on the backend of the taste. A twinge of bitterness led to a sprucy pine flavor with some juniper-like pepperiness before everything began to settle down on my palate.

And, as quickly as the flavors had come, they had disappeared. However, they did leave behind some reminders that they were there…like a slightly sticky dryness and a bready, yet bitter, aftertaste that settled on the back of my tongue for a long period of time.

The Man was a decent IPA. It had a nice combination of flavors but wasn’t something that wowed me in any way. It was your standard, pretty run-of-the-mill obligatory IPA with some potential to grow as Aleman grows too.

Next up is their year-round wit – LadiesMan.

LadiesMan is a wheat ale is brewed with lemon thyme to give that extra pop and sits pretty at 5.5% ABV with just 18 IBU. Just like The Man, six cans will set you back $10.

It poured a clear straw color with surprisingly little head…no more than a finger of white, airy foam that had no intentions of sticking around. And, very quickly, all that was left was a razor thin line of bubbles ringing around the glass with nothing else.

On the nose, this brew had all the typical accoutrements your standard witbier – spices (such as clove and coriander) and bold notes of bananas – but with a subtle twist…a light, citrusy lemon zest and soft floral notes from the addition of that lemon thyme.

My first swig began with that light carbonation fizzling on my tongue for just a few moments before the beer really started to dance across my tongue.

It began with a soft brushing from the lemon thyme, with a floral and semi-zesty flavor before the clove and banana pounced on my palate with a slightly woody, semi-tropical attack on my taste buds.

The wheat added a very Belgian-like breadiness while the clove and coriander added a warmth to it all mid-sip that lasted until the beer closed out.

The biggest takeaway from LadiesMan was just how much the banana aspect stood out in this brew. This wit was dominated by banana almost from start to finish with the cloves nipping at the heels of the tropical fruit for second place.

I was a little disappointed in how little the addition of lemon thyme added to LadiesMan. I didn’t get too much from the herb…at least not nearly as much as I thought I would. There was just that initial hint from the plant up front but, like I said, it was quickly covered back up by the normal wheat beer flavors.

LadiesMan tasted, sadly, like your average witbier. I was hoping the addition of the lemon thyme would make it really pop with some citrus notes but, instead, it was very quickly smothered by the massive banana notes.

If you like wits that heavily feature the tree fruit, this one is for you…just don’t expect too much from the addition of lemon thyme.