By Matt Abbatacola–

(CBS) After last week’s response to my #83beers column, I decided I would write every Friday to review craft beer, share drink and food recipes and interview brewers, taproom owners and chefs from some of Chicagoland’s hottest restaurants. As always, your feedback is valued.

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As an aside, I’m looking forward to Highwood’s seventh annual Bloody Mary Fest on July 31 — I’ll write about it in early August.

Ok, so when it comes to beer reviews, here’s how it will break down.

1. Flavor — broken down into four parts: aroma, taste, mouth feel and aftertaste.
2. Color
3. Body
4. Packaging (because that’s half the fun of craft beers)
5. Price — will rank with these designations: $, $$, $$$

After all the criteria is considered, I will give the beer an overall score of 1-10. I’m not an expert, and I certainly realize everyone has different tastes and opinions. The whole point of this is for you and I to be opened up to some new beers and breweries to explore and enjoy. I understand some people get pretty passionate about the beers they love — that’s good, but keep in mind that everyone has different tastes and opinions.

Let’s drink beer and have some fun together! And let’s go onto today’s review.

Avery’s Liliko’i Kepolo — $$$


It’s described as a Belgian-style white ale with spices and passion fruit added, with a 5.4% ABV.

It had a strong fruity aroma. I immediately thought of fruit cocktail. It was a pleasant smell and made me want to dive right in and take a swig. Liliko’i Kepolo has a beautiful golden hazy color and body. This ale starts off fruity and sweet — but not too sweet — and finishes tart. It left my mouth watering and wanting another taste. It has a clean aftertaste — very light and refreshing.

The next time I enjoy this brew, I’ll have it with spicy tacos — pastor or barbacoa or maybe a cajun-style fish.

The can is very cool and made me think of vacation.

Overall score: 7

Flying Dog’s Dead Rise — $$

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It’s described as an ale brewed with OLD BAY with citrus hop notes. The brew benefits True Blue, a program that advocates on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay’s watermen. It was initially brewed to celebrate OLD BAY’s 75th anniversary, and it has a 5.6% ABV.

It had an aroma of spices and citrus, but the spices didn’t overwhelm or dominate. They achieved a nice balance of spice and fruit. Dead Rise had a clear golden body. It had a light clean mouth feel. The spices gained momentum, but they never became overwhelming or unpleasant. The brew finished smooth and crisp and left a clean aftertaste — surprisingly refreshing.

This was a nice summer ale with a different approach. The fruitiness was present but not in the forefront. I was skeptical at first but really enjoyed this brew. As usual, the artwork on Flying Dog labels doesn’t disappoint.

I plan to use this beer in the broth for my next seafood boil as well as the beverage for the meal.

Overall score: 7.5

Bell’s Poolside — $$


This one is described as a Belgian-inspired wheat ale with a splash of Michigan cherry juice. It has a 5.2% ABV.

Poolside had a semi-dark amber color with a creamy head. It had an almost pinkish or mauve hue. This was a good-looking beer in a glass. The aroma was spicy with cloves and a subtle hint of sweet cherry. The initial taste was spicy with a mild tart flavor that slowly drifted away and left my mouth with a mild pleasant bitterness from the cloves and the acidity of the cherries. There was more of a substantial aftertaste than expected from a cherry summer ale, and I would suggest pouring this beer in a glass and letting it rest for several minutes as the tartness becomes more prevalent and enjoyable.

I really enjoyed this brew, and it has a stronger feel than the 5.2% ABV. It’s easy to drink multiple cans while sitting outside in the sun. Bell’s nailed this summer brew. The can makes you want to sit next to a pool and drink, with smart colors and designs. We will have this at the house while it’s available during its limited release.

Overall score: 8

Try these beers and let me know what you think. As always, keep the suggestions and comments coming, friends.

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Matt Abbatacola is a producer, host and update anchor at 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter@MattAbbatacola and email him at