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Belt’s Beer Garden: Workin’ Hard...or Hardly Working

Big Ditch Hayburner & Offshoot’s Relax (It’s Just a Hazy IPA)


Today I have two brews inspired by the work named after a hard working animal and the other for the few moments when you can just sit back and chill.

First up, a Buffalo brewery and their go-to IPA.

Big Ditch Brewing calls Buffalo, New York home and has been serving up suds there since 2014. They get their name from the construction of the Erie Canal and the workers’ nickname for it. Big Ditch can now be found across western New York and offer up three year-round beers along with a slew of seasonal and specialty brews.

I, surprisingly, have never had a beer from a Buffalo brewery before so when my friend brought me back a six-pack of their staple IPA, Hayburner, I was excited to dive in.

Hayburner is brewed with Cascade, CTZ, Falconer’s Flight, Glacier, and Warrior hops along with three malt varieties. A six-pack cost $11 and each can packs a very solid 7.2% ABV and 83 IBU. Their “workhorse” IPA was given its name, Hayburner, after the nickname mules were given during construction of the Canal.

This American IPA is a cloudy burnt orange color with about a finger and a half of sticky off-white head building up. The foam didn’t last long and, soon after pouring, all that remained was a small accumulation around the edge of the glass.

On the nose Hayburner had a sticky-sweet aroma of tropical fruit and candies. Grapefruit, orange, and melon stood out the most with some of that sugary, Lemonhead-like scent following close behind. A light malt backing brought some more sweeter notes to the smell and it seemed like a really balanced brew.

My first taste started with a low-level hum of carbonation that did nothing to prevent the flavors from quickly washing over my tongue.

It started with a grapefruit rind flavor and a hint of bitterness. The orange and melon swooped in and subdued the bitterness some with their juicy, tropical flavors. I was a little surprised at just how much melon stood out upon my first sip.

There was a slight resin that appeared midway through and coated my mouth. It brought with it some earthy notes of grass and just the tiniest bit of pine.

The flavors didn’t last long at all and, as the were fading out, it was the grapefruit and hops that ended it. That citrus rind and hoppy bite was the last thing to fade and lingered for a few moments longer than anything else.

I was happy that the sugary-sweet aspect of the aroma, that Lemonhead scent, wasn’t nearly as noticeable in the taste as it was the smell. Hayburner didn’t have that strong stickiness associated with that particular aroma that most beers have.

However, the thing that lasted the longest was the dry feeling that Hayburner imparted on my palate. This beer finished very dry. Like, take a sip of water (or another swig of the beer) every minute or so.

It was so tasty and oh-so-easy to drink. I think I finished the can in under 10 minutes. I didn’t even realize I was drinking it so fast…I simply looked down and an empty glass was staring back at me.

The only question I have is…how is Hayburner 7.2% ABV? It seriously drinks like a session IPA…light, crisps, and tasty. Just ends a bit dry but otherwise a very, very good IPA.


After a hard day of work, the best thing is enjoying a beer and getting to relax...just like this California-based NEIPA will let you do.

Famille Rue, as it has come to be known as, started when Patrick Rue started The Bruery in Orange County, California. It expanded with the addition of Bruery Terreux, which focuses on sours and wild ales and then, in 2017, Famille Rue grew again when they created their second offshoot…Offshoot Beer Company whose main focus is IPAs and other hop-centric beers.

Offshoot, located in Placentia, California (like The Bruery and Bruery Terreux, can be found in California and occasionally in Washington, D.C. if you’re lucky.

Their year-round brew – Relax (It’s Just a Hazy IPA) – is made with Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, and Simcoe hops and comes in four-packs of 16-ounce cans that cost a reasonable $12. Each pint has a solid 6.8% ABV.

It poured a super hazy, dark straw color like that of muddy water. Three fingers of thick, eggshell white head acted as a barrier to the beer below and was in no hurry to leave. The dense foam lasted for quite some time and laced the glass well as it slowly fizzled away.

What an aroma escaped the beer. It was packed with huge notes of juicy tropical fruit. Mango, pineapple, tangerine, grapefruit, some vanilla, and a dash of hops flowed outward. And I was ready to dig in.

My first taste began with an incredibly smooth start, it had a thicker, creamier mouthfeel and very little carbonation.

Then, just like with the aroma, a total juice bomb was unleashed on my taste buds. Big tropical flavors exploded; mango, grapefruit, and orange being the main offenders with a slight twinge of hoppy bitterness.

And then, right after the assault began, a sweet vanilla flavor bloomed and began to soften the bitterness out. Although, the creamy sweetness of vanilla wouldn’t last long.

Midway through, right about the time the vanilla started to dissipate, the hoppy bitterness returned, although this time muted some with the addition of a bite of pineapple tartness. However, once that pineapple kicked in, the beer began to fade away.

It finished mostly clean, with just a bit of that hoppy pineapple-flavored bitterness and a small dryness lingering on after everything else (which lasted for a few minutes).

The higher, nearly 7% ABV went undetected for the entirety of the can and I was surprised that there wasn’t more lacing going down, as the beer had been so foamy to start with.

But…boy was this a tasty beer. Super easy to drink. Incredibly flavorful. Fairly priced. It’s all you could want in a New England-style IPA.

If you’re in California, or by The Bruery’s other location in D.C., check for this one. It’s very worth it.