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Belt’s Beer Garden: Hitting for the Cycle

Toppling Goliath’s Hopsmack! & 4 Hands/Finback’s Liquid Cycle


This week two brews that have at least a 7.5% ABV and will hit ya with the booze.

Up first, Iowa’s premiere brewery and their highly rated double IPA.

Toppling Goliath is the crown jewel of Decorah, Iowa – a small town in northeastern Iowa near both the Minnesota and Wisconsin borders. Opening back in 2009, they’re known for their stellar IPAs and can now be found in 17 states – the entire Midwest, some of the Northeast, and in Florida.

Today I have one of their highly rated cans – Hopsmack!

Hopsmack! is a rotating beer, so it won’t be around much longer. It does cost a bit more, at $18 for a four-pack, but, if you don’t want to commit to four of them, you might be able to find a single can for $4.50. It comes complete with a 7.8% ABV and 100 IBU.

This DIPA poured a bright orange, slightly copper color with three fingers of head flowing upwards. The dense, sticky, off-white foam takes some time to start fading away but, when it finally does, it leaves quite a few wispy clouds hanging on to the sides of the glass.

On the nose, this brew has quite the pop. Huge juicy notes of pineapple, mango, apricot, and other tropical fruits lead the way with its dominating hop profile (as is to be expected). The grains provide a light breadiness and some other sweeter notes but make no mistake, this DIPA is certainly here to let the hops shine.

My first swig beings with it having a thicker, creamier body that sits a little heavy. A mild carbonation follows suit but quickly fizzles away, allowing for those hops to break through.

A pineapple bitterness leads it off but a blend of fruits quickly follow suit. The mango and apricot are most noticeable but grapefruit rind and some light honeydew melon can also be picked up quite easily.

The flavors all slowly bloom from the front of my tongue to the back, starting with that pineapple which then blossoms into the fruit cocktail medley. It’s a really great start to a double IPA.

However, midway through, the hops’ side effects start to show up. There is a bitterness that begins to creep in. The sweet, tropical flavors are slowly overrun with some pinecone, a light boozy burn, and that twinge of bitterness (although it’s not too bad).

Very late in the taste one tropical fruit makes a huge push and takes control. A somewhat juicy, some resinous grapefruit rind flavor swells right before everything ends and gives Hopsmack! a very nice conclusion.

With the flavors gone, Hopsmack! ends mostly clean. There is a somewhat sticky feeling and some light dryness left behind but no lingering bitterness or flavors remained.

It was quite an easy to drink double IPA and I wouldn’t have guessed it to have triple-digits in the IBU rating. The alcohol content isn’t hidden completely but, outside of the burn in the middle of the sip, its not too noticeable.

Overall, this is a very tasty DIPA and worth the extra few dollars. You can’t go wrong with an IPA from TG…they’re all just so good.


Next up, I have a collab IPA that clocks in at 7.5%.

4 Hands Brewing Co., which has made a few appearances on here already, has made some really tasty things in the past so when I saw they just did a collaboration with a New York brewery that I don’t have access to – Finback – I knew I had to try it.

First, a little about each.

As you might recall, 4 Hands opened up in St. Louis back in 2011 and can now be found in a handful of states. And while I couldn’t find their full distribution list, here’s a guide that might help some.

Finback, located in Queens, NYC, has been around for nearly a decade – also opening in 2011. They are still a smaller brewery that tries to release a beer every few weeks or so and loves to barrel age.

Together these two created Liquid Cycle, a hazy IPA brewed with Mosaic and other experimental hops. At $10 for a four-pack of 12-ounce cans, it’s a tad higher than usual but not too bad…especially because each of the cans has a very solid 7.5% ABV.

Liquid Cycle poured a super cloudy, dark orange/copper color with no more than a finger of foam topping the beer. The eggshell white head quickly fizzled down to a thin line around the edge of the glass.

A wildly juicy aroma hit my nostrils. It was packed with tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and fresh orange juice. But there was also a twinge of hoppy bitterness and some lingering pine hiding behind the fruit. The grains add some oaty qualities and add some more sweetness to the smell.

Starting it all off was a very light hum of carbonation that was accompanied by a pillowy, heavier mouthfeel.

The hops hit first with a slight bitter bite and a load of fruit flavors, with the pineapple really grabbing control of the taste. Behind the sting of pineapple, comes orange and mango and a dash of bready and caramel malt.

That little sweetness and light breadiness is the only appearance of the malt as, soon after, the hops really take control. A somewhat dank flavor started to appear with bursts of light citrus and another wave of bitterness.

Liquid Cycle sits a little heavier in my stomach and some sips have a slightly boozy smack to them that burns as it goes down…which surprised me some since the ABV is high but not THAT high.

It finished mostly clean, with just some dank bitterness lingering on and that tiniest hint of dryness creeping across my tongue with each consecutive swig.

Overall, this was a pretty solid brew…nothing too amazing but not bad by any means. For the price and flavors, it’s worth trying but it’s not something I’d return to time and time again.