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Belt’s Beer Garden: What’s on Tap

Only one brew this week - BuckleDown’s Luv Tap


Sadly, I could only get one beer reviewed this week and it comes from BuckleDown Brewing.

BuckleDown was founded early in 2013 by two friends in the Chicago suburb of Lyons, Illinois. They still have a smaller distribution - throughout the Chicagoland area and a few spots outside - but finding them outside of Illinois is pretty hard to do.

Today I have one of their newer releases – Luv Tap. This pale ale was brewed with cryo-Laurel, Meridian, and Cashmere hops and is sold in six-packs that cost the usual $10. Each of the cans has a moderate 5.7% ABV.

Luv Tap poured a translucent, bright golden straw color with about two fingers of sticky off-white head that slowly fizzles away in the center but leaves a mound of accumulation around the edge of the glass.

The smell confused me some initially. It was quite muted and muddled together but it had a sweeter, crackery like aroma…much more like a pilsner. There were some tropical fruit aromas but it certainly didn’t smell like a pale ale.

At first, since it smelled more like a lager, I thought perhaps the beer was old but the stamp on the bottom of the can told me it was canned in April so, with it being just over two months old, it shouldn’t have gone bad yet.

My first sip, however, confirmed that this beer had not gone bad.

A flash of carbonation starts it off before the hops creep forward with bold flavors – both tropical and earthy. Mango, papaya, and lemon kicked off the fruity aspect of the beer’s flavor early on but it didn’t last too long.

The hops’ citrus notes might have started it off but very quickly the flavors turned earthy. A soft lemongrass flavor mixed with some black pepper and some very light pine to quell the fruity flavors.

Balancing out the hops was a sweet, bready malt backing. The flaked corn grains certainly took out most of the hop bitterness but really make it feel like it wasn’t a pale ale but more of a hopped-up pils.

As the flavors begin to fade away, there was one last push of tropical fruits. A soft, pillowy bloom of grapefruit peel, mango, and lemongrass coated my taste buds with a sticky resin.

Outside of the resinous finish, Luv Tap finished rather cleanly, with no lingering flavors…just the resin and a touch of dryness.

Luv Tap wasn’t a bad beer at all. It was easy to drink and had some decent flavors…but it was rather sweet and certainly malt forward. As I’ve said a few times now, this brew seemed like it was a hybrid pale ale-pilsner. It had a very sweet corn flake-esque flavor, like pilsners, but also had a load of hoppy and tropical fruit flavors.

All-in-all, not bad but certainly not what I was expecting from a pale ale made with cryo-hops.