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Belt’s Beer Garden: Flexin’ on ya

Mikerphone’s The Reflex & Monday Night’s 404 Page Not Found


This week we’ll start with a brewery that just had an amazing beer festival (Smells Like a Beer Fest) and one of their newest spring releases.

Mikerphone Brewing has been around since 2015 but didn’t have a home until they found a nice space in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village, Illinois a few years ago. Yes, the same Elk Grove Village that sponsored one of the MAC’s bowl games this year – the Makers Wanted Bahama’s Bowl that saw the Toledo Rockets fall to the FIU Panthers 35-32.

Mikerphone has been one of Chicagoland’s best breweries these past four years and today I have one of their newest releases, The Reflex – a pale ale made with copious amounts of strawberries, lactose, and Mosaic hops. The beer was canned just a few weeks ago on April 15th. It has a decent 5% ABV but it will set you back $17 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans.

This fruited pale ale poured a pinkish muddled straw color with about a finger of head building up. The off-white bubbles quickly fizzled down into a dusting across the top.

The strawberries and lactose are quite prevalent in the smell, as The Reflex has a super sweet aroma. It’s mostly the fruit and sweet sugar that lead the way with some wheat and oats lurking in the background. The hops are rather subdued here, as the beer smells more like a strawberry smoothie than a beer.

My first sip begins with a slightly watery mouthfeel and lighter body than I was expecting from the color/smell. Just the smallest fizzle of carbonation hits my tongue and quickly moves aside, allowing the flavors to appear.

And it tastes just as it smells.

Strawberries and lactose hit first with a sweet and sugary combination before the Mosaic hops make an appearance with dash of bitterness and some more juicier hops flavors, such as a hint of grapefruit rind and some surprisingly tart lemon/citrus flavors.

Midway through the grains start to creep into the flavor, adding notes of flaked wheat and oats that balanced the beer out nicely and cut into the sweetness the lactose and fruit provide.

From there, the beer starts to fade out. And, as it does so, it ends really cleanly. There is a brief flash of hoppy bitterness that is quickly overrun by that strawberry sweetness. A residual flaked grain flavor sits for a few moments after but, otherwise, there is nothing left lingering behind. No bitterness. No dryness. No sticky sweetness. It just ends.

The Reflex is super easy to drink. The 5% ABV isn’t noticeable and allows for this beer to be super crushable. The flavors are dominated by the strawberries and it tastes like a slightly hopped, watered down strawberry smoothie.

I could drink this all day (and just might!). The biggest problem I have is I might finish the entire four-pack in one sitting. The worst thing about The Reflex is having to pay $17 for the four-pack...but’s it’s worth it.

Mikerphone once again strikes gold.


Up next, a Georgia brewery that’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine to try when I’m in the south.

Monday Night Brewing, from Atlanta, Georgia, is making their third appearance on BBG. They began in 2006 after a few friends from a Bible study group decided brewing beer was a way better day job. They are available in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee and offer six year-round brews, four seasonals, and a slew of limited release brews.

Today I have one of the limited release brews from their Black Tie series – 404 Page Not Found.

404 Page Not Found is an unfiltered IPA brewed with Citra, Idaho 7, and Simcoe hops along with pilsner malts. A four-pack of pints cost around $15, so it’s a little on the higher end but not too terrible. Each of the cans packs a real solid 7.1% ABV but it only has 45 IBU.

It poured a bright golden copper color with about two fingers of rather dense white head billowing up. The foam slowly vanishes but, on its way out, it makes sure to lace the glass with a rather thick layer of bubbles clinging to the side of my glass.

This brew has a real nice juicy tropical fruit aroma to it. Leading the charge are the usual offenders – pineapple, mango, and grapefruit – with some peach and lemon sitting behind those. There is also a hint of grass and some pine from the hops, as well as a light bready scent from the malt.

Leading off the sip is a bold sting of carbonation that hums on for a few moments, even as the flavors really start to pop.

Emerging first from the sip is a solid hop attack that hits with some sharp bitterness up front. Those citrus fruits slowly creeping forward, with pineapple and grapefruit rind controlling the majority of the flavor.

Once those tropical characteristics appear, the bitterness drops off to a lesser degree and then, by the fourth or fifth sip, it’s actually very manageable.

Midway through there is a shift in flavors, as the pine and earthy notes cut into the citrus. It’s here that those grassy undertones coat my tongue with a resinous feel and some harsher pine flavors battle the grapefruit and pineapple for dominance.

404 then starts to fade away, still locked in a battle between the citrus and pine as it all disappears.

I was surprised at how cleanly it ends though. Sure, there is a twinge of hoppy, citrus peel bitterness but that fades quickly and there’s almost no dry feeling afterwards.

All in all, after that initial shock, 404 was a very solid IPA. It had a nice combination of citrus and piney flavors with some bitterness but nothing too bad or out of the ordinary for an IPA. Plus, if you like Citra and Idaho 7 hops (like I do), this really showcases them well.

It won’t be here for long though, so grab it while you can.