Hot Takes, Quick Tastes – Leinie’s, Bells, Rev/Upland, Scorched Earth, Lagunitas

In Beer Reviews by Karl

Because we respect your time too much to waste it on excessive single beer reviews (at least for now), here’s a quick cross-section of what we’ve been drinking lately.

Not every beer needs a chapter-length description of its many attributes. We could give you 1000+ words on each of the latest hopped-up pilsners and radler riffs (and we probably will!) but not today.

So here, without further exposition on our part, are some quick snapshots of beers we’ve recently been sippin’ on. The internet would call these Hot Takes, or something like that. Maybe we’ll give you something new to try. Maybe we’ll save you $10 on that sixer you were considering. Either way, as always — drink at your own risk.

Bell’s Oatsmobile Session Pale 

Put aside the insane amount of marketing material they put behind this. Is it a good beer? Sure, it’s a good beer. But good enough to enter the pantheon of “year round Bells option”? I dunno. In summer, I imagine there to be two camps of Bells drinkers — Oberon, and everything else. And everything else includes their Midwestern Pale Ale, their Amber, their Oarsman (totally underrated, btw) and of course, Two MF’ing Hearted IPA.

So, where does Oatsmobile fit in there? I guess it wedges itself in somehow, but I’m still not sure where. As session pales go — and I’ve had a few — it’s firmly above average. Nice lightly creamy body from the oats but not massively slick, and an okay hop bouquet — but I was promised “stone fruit and tropical” and I got pine/vegetal. Weird, but not a death knell, and thankfully more than the usual boring hop-water that most usual session pales offer up. Definitely worth a revisit, hopefully on a nice hot Michigan summer day sometime soon. (This beer, as you probably have figured out by the above photo, was provided gratis.)

Lagunitas Aunt Sally Dry-Hopped Sour

I’ll admit it – I judged the shit out of this as soon as I saw the label. A sour? From hop-frenzied Lagunitas? The brewery that hops up their beers like they smoke joints and vice versa? How could it be any good?* Well, guess what — it’s pretty good. I had imagined that the dryhopping and the souring would battle each other out for supremacy but they actually compliment each other just fine. It’s not a mindblower, but go figure, Lagunitas made a decent sour. I’d love to see the process for souring a batch of one of those 250bbl monsters they’ve got down there on the South Side.

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*I’ll admit — I have the same bias about the idea of Half Acre sours. It’s like, you guys make some of the greatest hop-forward beers in town. I hate to tell anyone to stay in their lane, so I’ll shut up and note again that Aunt Sally has got me considering that maybe hop-happy breweries can also sour a beer too.

Scorched Earth’s Hickster Cream Ale

One of my many stops during Chicago Craft Beer Week was the self-distributed array of beers at Kaiser Tiger (the menu of which is pictured above), at which I enjoyed the cream ale from Scorched Earth called Hickster (also pictured above), made with (gasp!) corn. We’ve talked a while ago about how corn doesn’t need to be endlessly derided as an adjunct, and sooner or later more good brewers will catch up to it — but right now, I’m happy to have Hickster around when I can find it. It’s just a good goddamn beer. It’s hearty, flavorful, a little sweet but also a bit bready with a little nip of some grassy bitterness at the finish and it’d be awesome in a tallboy can all summer.

A while ago I opined on Twitter that I wouldn’t be mad if cream ales were the new trend. Well, I’ve been seeing more and more, and I’m pretty happy about it — cans of Outboard by Milwaukee Brewing Company are another front runner — but even if Hickster were the only one around, I’d be just as happy. It’s a treat.

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Revolution/Upland’s Revved Up Coffee Brown

At this moment, anything other than a coffee pale ale is kinda revolutionary all over again, so kudos to Rev and Upland for bucking this minute’s trend. And not even a stout! A brown ale! Man, I love brown ales.


It’s quite good but I’m not completely bowled over by this coffee brown — it’s got real good flavor but I found the body a little wispy. The coffee is decently present throughout and there’s an earthy, dirty finish like coffee grounds and English hops along with a sticky, lingering tail that I’ll assume was done on purpose.  Daring to release it in April/May. Would love another go at it in early October.

Leinenkugel’s Beergarden Tart

It’d be easy to laugh this beer off for being too little, too late to the game of “tart wheat” or Berliner Weiss inspired beers. And, ironically enough, Leinie’s kicked off that game way back when they rolled out their Summer Shandy and everyone went apeshit over the then-new citrus-beer combo. (It seems like sometimes like Stiegl Radler gets all the credit — so just don’t forget who set the table for them.) Anyways, it’s a little watery and weak in the knees, but they’re not going for the dollar of the person that’s really going to compare them to Off Color Fierce or Dogfish’s Festina Peche.

I’m thinking Leinie’s wants the slightly-adventurous bargoer who’s tried their Sunset Wheat and says “eh, gimme that other Leinie’s.” And you know what? They’ll probably be pretty damn happy with the Beergarden Tart. If I was sitting in some lakeside bar in Wisconsin or Minnesota and was totally burnt out on Labatt Blue Light and saw this on the bottle list? Hell yeah I’d be happy to see it. (This beer was provided gratis.)

New Belgium’s Citradelic IPA

On my way to dinner at a friend’s place, I wanted to grab a mixed 12’er of something that was both somewhat crafty and widely appealing, and I landed on a selection of New Belgium beers. That 12’er included the new Citradelic, marketed as a tangerine IPA, which was a nice bright marriage of tangerine peel melded with the citrusy hops, though more hop forward than I’d expected. Kinda orangey, too — call it a tangelo.

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Refreshing without a ton of heavy sticky fruitiness, which honestly is a bit of a relief after being hit over the head by CITRUS IPA after CITRUS IPA after CITRUS IPA. This is beer, not Jolly Ranchers.

Also, I’d forgotten how good their 1554 Black Lager is.

This has been Hot Takes, Quick Tastes. As always, if a beer is received gratis, we will disclose at all times. If you’ve got a beer you’d like us to try, we probably won’t accept it (we ignore most “hey want some free beer” emails because we’re happy to buy our own), but you can try to email us. Bonus points if you can name the brewery flight in the lead photo.

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago, AskMen and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers. If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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