Belt’s Beer Garden: SLO Burn

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

About 185 miles south of San Jose (and the midpoint between SJ and LA) is San Luis Obispo, California. Located on California’s central coast, the city is home to the Cal Poly Mustangs and SLO Brew.

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SLO has been around for well over 30 years, opening its doors in 1988 and is now one of the longest running brew pubs in California.

In a cool twist, they are actually in charge of 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! 23 years later, Firestone Walker is one of the largest breweries in the country and would later buy SLO’s Cali-Squeeze brand.

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

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

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Mustang IPA poured a light golden copper color with perhaps a finger of eggshell white head settling on top. The foam created a very nice lacing and bubbled all over the side of the glass as it fell.

The aroma was what you would expect from a hoppy West Coast IPA – lots of pine with some resinous citrus and grassy notes. The pine-like elements were the most prevalent, with lemon and grapefruit also being easily noticeable. There was a hint of grist bread underneath, but for the most part this baby was all hops.

The sip begins with a rush of flavors. The pine and biscuit malts meet almost simultaneously in a mix of sweet and bitter. But the hops quickly take control and displace this bready characteristic.

A burst of bitter pine and grass notes rush forward for a moment or two. Halfway through, however, it encounters some grapefruit, lemon, and orange flavors that give the brew a slightly juicy blend and slice the bitterness.

On the back end, the pithy grapefruit zest and a light, resinous, grassy mouthfeel linger for a few moments before disappearing.

Mustang IPA finishes surprisingly clean, with just a hint of dryness joining the two flavors at the end. However, nothing lasts 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 your mind, but it’s a solid beer and worth a four pack.

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