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Belt’s Beer Garden: Neon Moon

Maplewood’s Beyond Neon & Anchor’s San Franpsycho

This week I’ll start with one of Chicago’s finest.

Maplewood Brewing has a special place in Belt’s Beer Garden history. The Logan Square brewery had one of the first ever beers reviewed on here – The Charlatan way, way back in 2014. And, initially, I didn’t intend to review it…but when I popped opened the bottle, it was just too good not to share with everyone.

After that moment, I was hooked. However, they haven’t featured on here too often. I have tried not to review too many of Maplewood’s beers because I do tend to have a bias towards them…I just seem to love everything the make.

But, every once in a while, they release a new beer that I want to share with you guys…this time it’s Beyond Neon.

Originally brewed back in July when they started distributing to the St. Louis area, this brew was a tribute to their new southern expansion. And, as such, they used southern hops…way southern…like New Zealand south.

Beyond Neon features a heavy dosage of Moutere and Motueka hops (both from New Zealand) and then is rounded out with Mosaic hops and oats as well. Each pint has a 7.1% ABV and a four-pack of cans was about $16. They have since re-released it and I snagged that version.

It poured a super cloudy, murky orange color with about a finger of slightly tan head topping off. The foam quickly fades into a dusting, leaving a decent amount of lacing as it disappears.

Holy crap, this beer smelled outstanding. It was bursting with dank tropical fruit flavors. Pineapple, check. Papaya, check. Mango, check. Grapefruit…you know it! Underneath, the malt profile added that oaty sweetness to balance it out.

It starts off with a creamy, pillowy, slightly thicker mouthfeel with a tiny carbonation hum underneath. From there the hops and malts push their way through to my taste buds.

Tropical fruits kick things off with papaya and grapefruit but it’s that latter that really leads the way. The oats show up early as well, providing more sweetness and that distinct flavor profile.

The tastes move slowly across my tongue, taking their time to develop. After the initial pop of papaya and grapefruit, there was slow swelling of juicy mango that peaked midway through, countering the grapefruit for the leading flavor.

However, as the brew began to fade, the pineapple showed up with a tingle of acidity and some hoppy bitterness. The bitterness grows stronger as the flavors diminish and then sits for a while after everything else has left. Joining that slightly bitter aftertaste is a moderate dryness that comes from a sticky resinous feeling that appeared out of nowhere at the end.

Beyond Neon starts off amazing. It then finishes good…but not nearly as good as it was at the start. The dryness really hangs around and I needed some water to clear it but, man, did this beer really get me going for the vast majority of the sip.

Once again, it’s a beer I’ll go back for more of…just next time I’ll have a glass of water handy.

*Canned 9/30/19. Reviewed 10/3/19*

Next up, a beer from a brewery that’s been around for over a century.

San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing is America’s first and oldest craft brewery, beginning all the way back in 1896 but their roots go even further back to the Gold Rush in 1849. They are famously known for their Steam Beer, which was first made in their inaugural year and then was first bottled in 1971.

You can find their bottles across the country and in 24 countries across the globe.

Today I have a season brew that you can find from April through November, their San Franpsycho IPA.

This beer is now one of the few to be canned instead of bottled by Anchor and features Apollo hops before being dry-hopped with a blend of “North American hops”. It has a 6.3% ABV and a six-pack costs the usual $10.

It poured a bright golden copper color with just under two fingers of off-white foam topping the brew. The head slowly fades away and, throughout the beer, leaves a minimal amount of lacing down the sides of the glass.

You can certainly smell the peach and apricot additions in the aroma. The fruits lead the way with a sticky-sweet aroma as the hops provide some more light citrus underneath and the malt profile gives off even more sweetness with a bready and caramel undertone.

My first sip started off with some fizzy carbonation that hummed underneath the beers flavors and lasted nearly the entirety of it.

From there, the fruits climb out of the carbonation with the apricot peeking through just a bit more than the peach. As expected, the addition of the fruit purees added a sticky resin that coated my tongue.

The hops bring some notes of lemon and grapefruit peel which massively cut into the peach and apricot flavoring, while also adding a decent twinge of bitterness that really hits midway through the swig and continues for some time after the flavors have faded.

Biscuity and caramel notes from the 2-row, Wheat, and Acidulated malts do their best to balance the brew out by cutting into the bitterness some but it’s really the hops shine from start to finish.

Midway through the peach and apricot flavors seemed to fade almost instantly. However, they left behind that resinous feeling and, without the fruit juice, the citrus rind flavor began to build and accentuated the already bitter bite the hops brought with them.

As San Franpsycho ends, it does so on the dryer side but, by then, that sticky feeling had at least faded some.

This was a decent West Coast IPA. I would have liked to see the peach and apricot show through a bit more, as they were never really that prevalent in the taste. The hoppy bite took over relatively early and never gave the fruits a chance to shine.

With the adjunct ingredients getting the boot early, this brew was just a standard IPA with a solid bitterness and lingering dryness. Was hoping for more.

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