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Belt’s Beer Garden: What a Treat!

Maplewood’s Krispie Cakes (a Rice Krispies Treat-inspired ale) & Victory’s Twisted Monkey (a blonde ale with mango)

Let’s start this week off with dessert first; a beer inspired by one of the most iconic desserts - Rice Krispie Treats from Maplewood.

Maplewood Brewery & Distillery, out of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, quickly became my go-to brewery in the city where they have remained for quite some time now.

Over the past two years or so, Maplewood has introduced a few different “series” – like their Cuppa (a stout with rotating additives), Mr. Shakey (milkshake IPA with rotating fruits), and their newest Softcore Mutilation (a foeder-aged mixed fermentation series).

But, today, I feature a brew from their Cakes series, a “pastry case” series that looks to recreate different tasty treats in beer form. Their newest variation is Krispie Cakes – a Rice Krispy Treat-inspired golden ale brewed with rice, marshmallow, and vanilla.

Krispie Cakes was released on November 17th, just in time for Thanksgiving. And, with its limited availability, it might be hard to find now but there are a few cases still floating around the Chicagoland area. A four-pack of cans costs around $13 and each pint has a solid 6.5% ABV.

This golden ale poured a bright copper color with some cloudiness to it. About a finger of vivid white head topped it off and soon fizzled down into a razor thin line around the edge of the glass with a single clump of bubbles floating in the middle.

On the nose, this brew smelled almost exactly like a Rice Krispies Treat. The marshmallow and vanilla blend into a sweet, sugary aroma while the rice sits in the background, cutting into the sweetness some. The malt profile added a bit of a kölsch-like aroma, with notes of flaked grain and reminded me that this is, indeed, a beer and not dessert.

My first taste began with a tiny fizzle of carbonation but almost immediately the vanilla and marshmallow were swarming my taste buds.

The sugary additives were quickly accompanied by the rice, which brought the sweetness down a few notches and balanced everything out nicely.

Towards the backend of the sip, the beer lost a lot of the marshmallowy notes and slowly faded into a more typical golden ale flavor for its final moments.

Krispie Cakes ended mostly clean and with almost no dryness. The only thing left behind was an echoing hint of vanilla and a dash of the marshmallow.

This was by far the least sticky Rice Krispie Treat I’ve ever had. There was no gooey residue left on my hands afterwards AND it has the added bonus of alcohol.

Most dessert beers tend to be stouts but this is the perfect one for those of you that can’t get into dark brews. It’s light, it’s easy to drink, and it’s a tasty replica of one of the best desserts you can make at home.

If you find a can of this, don’t skip out. Another well done beer by Maplewood.

Up next, a beautiful blonde ale brewed with mangoes from Victory.

Victory Brewing calls Downingtown, Pennsylvania home and has been around for a long time – opening their doors all the way back in February of 1996 in what was once a Pepperidge Farm factory. Since then, they have opened three satellite locations – two in PA (Parkesburg and Kennett Square) and a third in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can find their beers in most places (at least 34 states) and everywhere east of the Mississippi River, with the exception of West Virginia.

Today I have one of their year-round beers – Twisted Monkey, a Belgian-style blonde ale brewed with mangoes. A six-pack of 12-ounce cans costs $13 and each can has a decent 5.8% ABV and 15 IBU.

This blonde ale poured a slightly translucent golden straw color with about a finger and a half of bright white foam topping it off. The head lasts for a few moments before fizzling down to a razor thin dusting.

The Belgian yeast gives this beer a very strong saison-like aroma, with notes of cloves and banana really controlling the smell. Hidden behind the clove is a light sticky-sweet mango scent which I thought would be more prevalent…instead Twisted Monkey smells almost like a straight up farmhouse ale.

The mango was quiet in the smell but it certainly was not when tasting the beer.

My first sip began with just a tiny fizzle of carbonation before a huge wave of mango juice washed across my taste buds, covering every inch of my tongue with a sticky, juicy resin. As the sip progressed, the mango kept its hold as the lead flavor. But, behind the fruit, occasional peaks of clove began to pop up through the mango.

Towards the backend of everything, the Belgian aspect of the brew kicked back up as the mango began to deteriorate some. Notes of banana and clove started to appear, as did a light peppery spice.

From there, Twisted Monkey’s flavors began to fade away. And, unlike most beers that use copious amounts of fruit juice, this one didn’t have that same stickiness to it. In fact, there was no lingering resinous/sticky feeling or aftertaste at all. Instead, the beer just ends. Super clean.

This was quite the interesting beer. Initially it smelled like the mango would be all but hidden and I’d be drinking a straight up saison. But then, in a drastic turn on my first sip, I was shown that the mango would actually be the star of the show and control most of the flavor profile.

Twisted Monkey is a very solid blonde ale…

It’s juicy without being sticky. It’s balanced without being overly sweet (it is on the sweeter side but the peppery spice keeps it in check some). It’s just plain good. Especially if you’re a fan of saisons and mangoes.

For me, it might be a bit too sweet to be an everyday beer or to down a six-pack but it’s certainly one that I’ll have again – most likely during the summer, lazing out by the river.

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