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Belt’s Beer Garden: SLO Burn

SLO Brew’s Mustang IPA

As the Western Michigan Broncos head to San Jose, today I thought I’d showcase a beer inspired by a nearby college and named for a very similar type of horse.

About 185 miles south of San Jose (and the midway point between SJ and LA) is San Luis Obispo, California. The city is located on the central coast of California and is home to the Cal Poly Mustangs and SLO Brew.

SLO has been around for well over 30 years, opening their doors back in 1988, and is now one of California’s longest standing brew pubs.

In a cool twist, they are actually responsible for Firestone Walker. In 1999 they built their original production house in Paso Robles but, financially it didn’t work out for them, and Firestone Walker bought it to use as their brewery! Twenty-three years later, Firestone Walker is one of the nation’s largest breweries and would go on to purchase SLO’s Cali-Squeeze brand.

But back to SLO and their beers. Today I have one of their mainstay brews - an IPA meant to honor Cal Poly - Mustang IPA.

Cal Poly uses the name Mustangs for their athletics and this beer is “dedicated to the 100,000+ alumni that have made SLO Brew an institution”. Mustang IPA has a 7.1% ABV, 80 IBU, and comes in 16 ounce cans that run $11 per four-pack.

Mustang IPA poured a bright golden copper color with maybe a finger of eggshell white head settling on top. The foam created some very nice lacing, coating the entire side of the glass with bubbles as it dropped.

The aroma was what you’d expect from a hoppy West Coast IPA - plenty of pine with some resinous citrus and grassy notes. The piney elements were most prevalent with lemon and grapefruit easily noticeable as well. Underneath, there was a touch of bread from the grist but, for the most part, this baby was all hops.

The sip begins with a rush of flavors. The pine and biscuity malt hit almost simultaneously in a blend of sweet and bitter. But quickly the hops take control and push out that bready characteristic.

A push of bitter pine and grassy notes surges forward for a moment or two. However, midway through, it is met with some grapefruit, lemon, and orange flavors that brings a slightly juicy blend to the brew and slices into the bitterness.

On the backend the pithy grapefruit rind and a minor resinous grassy mouthfeel stick around for a few moments before fading away.

Mustang IPA ends surprisingly clean, with just a dash of dryness joining the two flavors at the end. However, nothing sticks around long and I was able to dive right back into the beer.

It’s a very solid West Coast IPA with a nice balance of flavors. You get the pine, the citrus, and even the malt. Definitely perfect for tailgating down at Cal Poly. It won’t blow you away but it’s a solid beer and a four-pack is well worth it.

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