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Belt’s Beer Garden: A Couple of Doods

Riverland’s Doodle Face & Odd Side El Dankerino

We’ll start this week from a brewery that opened up just a few minutes from my house - Riverlands.

Riverlands Brewing Co. opened their taproom in St. Charles, Illinois on March 17th of this year. And, in that short time, they have proved themselves time and time again as a tasty brewery, no matter what the style. While they produce a lot of hazy IPAs, stouts, and sours, they also make a wide variety of beers from ESBs to kölschs to hefes.

Riverlands recently began canning and distributing locally, so they don’t have a huge distribution yet (available only at the brewery and in select suburbs of Chicago). But I am lucky enough to live just a few minutes away from the brewery so I was able to snag a four-pack of their Doodle Face.

Doodle Face is double New England IPA brewed as an ode to one of their dogs and puppers everywhere. Made with all El Dorado and Mosaic hops they could find and a malt profile that features Carafoam, flaked oats, Pilsner malt, and White Wheat, Doodle Face has a solid 8.2% ABV but comes at a cost, as a four-pack runs between $16-18.

This NE IPA poured a murky straw color, nearing copper, with plenty of haze. A finger of dense eggshell white head topped the brew and slowly faded down into a moderate build up around the edge of the glass.

A juicy, sweet aroma that featured a blend of citrus fruits flowed out from the glass. Mango, orange peel, tangerine, and peach dominated while the oats and wheat were most prevalent from the malts, adding some more sweetness and a hint of breadiness.

The sip began with a light fizzle of carbonation before the flavors really began to kick in. And, in keeping with the scent, the hops led the way with their tropical and citrus fruit flavors.

A juicy blend of tangerine, peach, and grapefruit kicked things off with a slight bitter twinge joining in and hitting near the back of my tongue.

The wheat and oats slowly build up, adding sweetness and a cereal-like flavor that never really overpowers the fruits but, rather, balances the beer out nicely.

Right around the midway point, there is a swell of mango flavoring (which was surprisingly absent at the start). Joining the mango was another short burst of tangerine and peach as well.

From there, Doodle Face began its decent. All the flavors seemed to wash away within a few seconds and I was left with some moderate dryness and a light resinous feeling that featured some lingering notes of tangerine and grapefruit peel.

If you’re a fan of New England IPAs, it would be hard to not enjoy this beer. Super juicy. Super flavorful. Super easy to drink. The 8.2% is hidden all the way and it drinks like a beer with half that alcohol.

Riverlands is one of the hidden gems in Chicagoland and, if you can find them, don’t hesitate to try them. No matter the style, you won’t be disappointed. Doodle Face is just one of the many examples of this.

*Canned on 9/20/19. Reviewed on 10/10/19*

After a Doodle Face, it’s time for a different type that abides.

Lately it seems like I’ve been seeing/finding a lot of Big Lebowski-themed beers, like Ex Novo’s Really Tied the Room Together, that I had for my birthday.

And today I have Odd Side’s El Dankerino, another brew inspired by The Dude.

Odd Side Ales opened up in Grand Haven, Michigan back in 2010. Over the next nine years they’ve expanded multiple times and have gone from a pub inside a piano factory to operating out of a 44,000 square foot facility.

As they grew, so too did their distribution. You can find their brews across the MAClands of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The Lebowski trend continues with El Dankerino, a West Coast double IPA that’s also one of Odd Side’s stronger beers. Brewed with Amarillo, Citra, and Simcoe hops, this DIPA packs a massive punch with a 10% ABV and 77 IBU. A six-pack runs about $13.

El Dankerino poured a darker copper color with about a finger of slightly tan head building up. The foam fizzles away quickly, leaving a small accumulation across the top and some moderate lacing down the glass.

A resinous hop profile was featured in the aroma. There were notes of dank citrus fruit and pine from the hops while the malts added some sweet bready and caramel notes to try and balance out the brew. It certainly smelled lighter than a lot of high alcohol DIPAs, which made this beer seem more approachable than some.

My first swig began with a mild carbonated fizz that started slowly before building later and continuing to tingle underneath the flavors for nearly the entirety of the taste.

The flavors slowly crept forward out of the fizzle and, once again, made this brew a more friendly imperial beer than I was expecting. Initially it was dank and resinous citrus, with lemon, grapefruit, and orange peel leading the way.

The resin battled it out with a light juicy feeling and, eventually, won the fight – leaving a sticky feeling across my tongue.

Midway through, however, the hops really began their assault. A sharp bitter smack hit the back of my tongue and was joined with a mild boozy bite. Surprisingly, though, the high ABV wasn’t noticeable on every sip - just a few throughout the beer. But, by the end of the can, you could certainly feel it as it warmed my face and chest.

A hint of caramel and some biscuity notes from the malts and attempted to slice into the hoppiness but it was to no avail. Instead, the malts just added a sweetness to the otherwise hoppy brew.

El Dankerino ends rather cleanly, with just a bit of dryness from the resin and a light bitter tingle. It was probably one of the easiest 10% beers I’ve ever had. I thought I was in for a difficult 12 ounces but, instead, I found my glass empty a lot faster than expected.

A very nice and approachable double IPA with a manageable hop bite and super high ABV. If you like hoppy brews, you’ll enjoy this one.

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