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Belt’s Beer Garden: Foley Loaded

Two brews from Foley Brothers Brewing: Citrennial & Skeleton Crew

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Foley Brothers Brewing was started in Brandon, Vermont back in 2012 by none other than two brothers, Patrick and Daniel Foley. They brew in small batches using their 7.5-barrel brewery and can be found throughout Vermont. And, very similarly to NIU, their motto is “do it the hard way”…perfect for a Huskie fan like myself.

Foley Brothers releases beers in small batches and are always brewing using new recipes and experimenting. However, today I have a couple of their more “main-stay” beers: Citrennial and Skeleton Crew.

Citrennial is an IPA that was brewed, and dry-hopped, exclusively with Citra and Centennial hops. A four-pack of 16-ounce cans runs the steep price of $14.50 but each can has a solid 6.7% ABV and roughly 70 IBU.

Skeleton Crew is on of the six double IPA they make but…unlike their other DIPAs, Skeleton Crew is hopped twice as much as any other beer they make. And, because of that, the massively hopped beer is no slouch – each can has a bold 8.5% ABV and 100 IBU. Like Citrennial, Skeleton Crew is sold in four-packs and costs $15.

I can’t wait to dive in to their brews, so let’s begin. First up, Citrennial.

Citrennial poured a bright golden straw color with just about a finger of head billowing up. The purely white foam settled quickly and soon was nothing more than a thin layer across the top of the liquid below.

A beautifully tropical aroma emanated from the beer with huge juicy notes of mango, orange, grapefruit, and lemon. Behind the fruit lurked some dank piney and grassy notes along with a somewhat yeasty quality.

My first swig began with some mild carbonation fizzling on my tongue before the hops took control. The flavors soon rushed in smacking my taste buds with a bitter fruity quality. The orange, lemon, and grapefruit led the way

From there it was a mash up of resinous grassy hops, a dash of pine, and strong bitter bite that lasted for a few moments before the citrus made one last push forward.

Towards the end of the sip there was a final pop of lemon and orange that started at the front of my tongue and expanded across the rest of my taste buds in a matter of seconds before fizzling out all at once.

The final burst of tropical fruits was followed by some dryness and a long bitter sting that sat in the back of my throat for a few minutes after each imbibe.

Citrennial was a tease in a way. The scent was so amazing and drew me in only to have the flavors be outshined by the strong bitterness. Sure, the tropical fruit flavors were really great when they were there but the strong, sticky resinous grass and high bitterness detracted from the brew.

All in all, this was a solid beer that just had a tad too much bitterness for me…which is surprising because it only has about 70 IBU and I love hopped up beers. If you’re a hop-head too, this one is for you.

After that unexpectedly bitter bomb, I turn my attention to a brew that should be even more bitter – their Imperial IPA, Skeleton Crew, which, again, is hopped twice as much as any other beer Foley Brothers make.

Skeleton Crew poured a surprisingly bright straw color with two fingers of dense head blocking the entrance to the beer below. The pure white foam slowly fizzled away into a dusting but it proved to be quite sticky as it left a solid lacing around the glass before I had even brought the glass to my lips.

This double IPA didn’t seem to have the super strong hoppy aroma I was expecting from a beer with an 8.5% ABV. Instead it was more tropical with a light hop backing. The smell consisted of mango, pineapple, melon, and other light citrus fruits with earthy/grassy notes lingering behind those and a bready malt undertone.

When I finally took my first sip, there was a mild carbonation rush that quickly faded, allowing for the hop flavors to break through. And, just like the smell had foretold, it was a medley of tropical fruits that began to ping on my taste buds.

Starting it all of was a mix of melon, grapefruit, and acidic pineapple with a low hum of bitterness that settled on the back of my tongue and refused to leave.

A resinous grapefruit oil and slightly grassy flavor coated my tongue midway through it all. Underneath that sticky hop flavors, a slightly yeasty, slightly bready malt taste snuck in and sliced the bitterness levels nicely making this DIPA very palatable.

As it all began to fade, there was one final hoppy push that amplified that bitter twinge that was still lingering on the back of my tongue. The last assault came in the form of melon and orange zest before quickly faded away, leaving nothing more than a dash of dryness and a slight alcohol sting in my mouth. The 8.5% showing its face especially in the later stages of the beer with a strong alcohol burn at the end.

Overall though, Skeleton Crew was a very nicely made Imperial IPA. It didn’t seem nearly as bitter as Citrennial but had the same tropical flavors. However, it had that boozy finish to it and was a very heavy brew, meaning it sat very heavy in my stomach and filled me up after drinking just two thirds of the pint.

Just like Citrennial, this is a hop-heads’ dream. Lots of flavors. Lots of hops. Good stuff here.