Beer Reviews

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Well, folks, it’s another beer issue and another year in the ol’ brew log. In the past year, we’ve seen a startup brewery take the Utah craft scene by storm, local breweries take their craft to more states and local drinkers develop a craving for high-point brews and exotic styles. There is no better testament to the quality that Utah breweries can provide than this lineup here. Cheers.

Squatters Pequeño Imperial

Brewery/Brand: Squatters Pub
ABV: 6.5%
Serving Size: 22 oz
Description: Off the pour, this heavy cerveza has a very light yellow color and puts off a small, white head. The aroma is a fiesta of soft, sweet malts, a light amount of sugar and very light, fruity lager yeast ester to it. The flavor is crisp and clean, with some more sweet malt and the the softest amount of hop character peering through. Near the end, I garnished with a lime, but as tasty as this was, I would recommend keeping it as is.
Overview: I never thought I would get to describe this style, but this is an imperial Mexican lager, and I am on board with it. I am not ashamed to say I love light Mexican lager beer from time to time, and this hits the spot for me. It manages to maintain the light body of a classic Mexican lager, yet still packs a punch. I will have to save a couple for those summer days when I need to do some damage out in the sun. Not to be outshined, I would like to throw a little shout-out to Acapulco Gold, Squatters’ original Mexican Lager. It has been a long-standing favorite of mine from the Squatters brew team, and, like this one, it should not be missed.

Brewer/Brand: RedRock
ABV: 10.3%
Serving Size: 750 ml bottle
Description: The 2011 release of RedRock’s perennial favorite, Rêve, opens with an insistent hiss, hinting at the massive carbonation that awaits. The hazy golden brew pours with a persistent, snow-white foam and wonderfully musty farmhouse smell. The first taste is rich, full of honey, stonefruit and a pleasant sweetness as well as some dry-cereal grain quality. There is quite a bit of alcoholic warmth tickling your throat on the way down, as well as an excellent dryness in the finish. Hops don’t make themselves known, but are there to provide a stiff backbone and balance. The Belgian yeast is the real star here, producing the fruity esters characteristic of the tripel style. This is one of the most complex beers produced in Utah, but don’t shy away from this wonderful experience.
Overview: The finest Belgian-style tripels are on the lighter side, but are usually one of the most complex and unique flavors and vary quite a bit from beer to beer, as each fermentation can be totally different. Rêve is no exception, having been made to the highest quality standards. The aging and conditioning process are unique to this beer. RedRock’s tripel is aged in French oak casks and inoculated with wild yeast before bottling. The wood aging is subtle, lending mild hints of tannic mouthfeel and chardonnay aroma, while the wild yeast remains barely present—for now. Like any other traditional “spoiler,” the yeast needs time to truly make its presence felt, so while a hint of musty character can be found now, this beer will continue to develop for years. I’m buying a few bottles each time they release it, in order to have the fun of comparing them down the road. –Rio Connelly

Altus Alt

Brewer/Brand: Bohemian Brewery
ABV: 4%
Serving Size: On tap at the brewery
Description: This clear, German-style ale pours a restrained amber orange, with a nice white head, an excellent sweet malt aroma and just a whiff of some complexity. Maybe some hops or yeast come through the nose, but the caramel grain is the leader. The flavor is what the aroma hints at, but with more balance. The malt is rich and subtle, offering a sweetness that gets countered by a complementary grainy cereal bitterness and substantial dryness. Over the top of that is a really tasty noble-hop character, making this one of Bohemian’s hoppier beers, brewed successfully in the centuries-old German tradition.
Overview: An even more unconventional break from their standard of lagers, Bobby Jackson’s new special release brings a classic old-world ale strain into the brewhouse. For those who rarely stray from familiar styles, think of this one as the granddaddy of all amber ales. “Alt” is German for old, and commercial examples of this unusual beer are few and far between. Fermented warm and then stored cold, or “lagered,” to promote smoothness of flavor, this beer is exceptionally drinkable and one of the best results of Bohemian’s new trend of unique projects. Get this one soon because it may be vanishing quickly. –Rio Connelly

The Summer Highlights:

This summer and year to come will be filled with many good beers. I am excited to see if I can make it through this projected lineup without creaming in my jeans.

Epic Brewing Company has been throwing out some crazy styles this last year, including an array of smoked, fruited and straight-up Belgians. Their newest project in the works is an over-the-top, hopped up lager that should not be out of their norm. This should be hitting the market sometime this summer, so keep your eyes out for that.

Yeast mix master Donovan Steele of Hoppers has another secretive high-gravity batch of Belgian brew in the tanks that should be released early summer. This particular batch is a light summer saison that will be done in two releases––both releases will be the same beer with some creative tweaks.

RedRock is hopping on the saison wagon, too––word is that they will be releasing their own saison at high point. There is also talk of an expanded barrel-aging program with some new brews already in the works.
Bohemian Brewery has heard the word of the people, and they are meeting the needs of the beer nerds with seasonals. To be seen the next month is a second release of their popular Roadhouse Rye and Hefeweizen. Keep up the seasonal work, boys.

Squatters Pub has been hard at work with the newest releases of their barrel-aged Belgians to be released in the next couple of months. The Fifth Element is their barrel-aged saison that has some funk to it and is a personal favorite of mine and the brewing community. Second is their 529, an oud bruin (sour brown). This Belgian brown ale is aged in oak and blended with a fresh batch to give a malt complexity that is blended with sour yeast. Both are favorites of the local Belgian-drinking community.

The hard-working folks of the Utah Brewers Cooperative are taking a well-received brew from the brewery at Squatters Pub and are putting the Big Cottonwood Amber into full production for the consuming enjoyment of our beer nerds.

Finally, if that is not enough to keep your beer buds watering, keep an eye out for Shades of Pale out of Park City. With some minor delays, they are now up and running and hopefully hitting the shelves any day now.