Photo: Chris Hollands

Beer Name: Hayduke
Brewery: Fisher Brewing Co.

ABV: 4.0%
Serving Style: 16-oz. draft

Walking into Fisher Brewing Company for beer as the doors open on a Saturday morning may be the perfect way to start the weekend. We ordered up the newest pale ale on tap, and the barkeep served it to us as a nameless beer. They do a fantastic job of turning over their beer, keeping it fresh, all while adding new brews. Each time you visit, you’re highly likely to be greeted with new offerings you haven’t had yet. (The craft beer community loves this kind of stuff!) Fisher’s team and Head Brewer Colby Frazier like to mix it up to see what works and what doesn’t. If a beer is popular, it may get added to more of a frequent rotation.

Taking a seat at the bar, it was interesting to watch as they drew up a fresh sign for the draft list. Within minutes, the brewery’s recent creation was labeled “Hayduke.” We thought to ourselves, “Why haven’t we featured a Fisher beer as the ‘Beer of the Month’?” Well, the answer is both frustrating and intriguing to fans of great, local craft beer. It’s because their beer is consumed by the masses quickly—meaning when it’s gone, it’s gone. These beers generally do not last long enough to write a proper feature on them. The great news is all of their beers are solid and lovely beverages that are meant to be enjoyed fresh and cold.

Description:

We were served the Hayduke in a nonic pint glass from the draft line at the brewery. The crisp beverage flowed nicely into the freshly rinsed glassware. A substantial, pristine-white crown of foam capped off the pour. A chameleon in the light, this pale ale touts colors of a hazed, bright-orange and yellowish, wet straw, but with a clean appearance. Aromas hint of earthy hops, pine and grains, which are lost notes in many of today’s fruit- or citrus-driven hoppy beers. Each swig gives off a lingering bitterness from the hops and the frosty drink. We pick up citrus fruit rind or young pear as the flavors flow through this medium- to light-bodied brew. The Hayduke is easily drinkable. It seems to be a throwback to many of the early renditions of the style, like craft beer pioneers Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale.

Overview:

We tried the Hayduke next to several other pale ales that Fisher Brewing Co. had on tap—it was significant how different each of them were. They all had their own individual characteristics, all fantastic. Being part of the craft beer scene, we get both angles. We love going to our favorite places and knowing what we can get. But we are also curious souls who like to hop into the latest and greatest beers. It’s a double-edged sword—Fisher, who was part of what seemed to be the first wave of new Utah breweries, has set standards for new and local brewhouses. That standard is to create a welcoming, fun spot where you and your friends can come and have a pint, plus experience an ever-rotating lineup of premium drinks crafted by people who care. While we have tried to time this review so you can still have the Hayduke, even if we missed it by a little bit, you can be rest assured there will be something awesome on tap waiting for you.

Cheers!

You can find Fisher and other great local breweries at SLUG Mag’s Brewstillery at Trolley Square on May 18. Find tickets at 24tix.com.


More on SLUGMag.com:
The New Guard of Utah: Fisher Brewing Co.
Beer of the Month: Fisher Classic Lager

(L–R) Owner Mark Medura, Sales & Marketing Manager Katie Flanagan and Head Brewer Chris Detrick are kicking of Level Crossing Brewing Company in South Salt Lake with mostly classic ales.

Level Crossing Brewing Company
2496 S. West Temple, South Salt Lake
385.270.5744 || facebook.com/levelcrossingbrewingco

Level Crossing Brewing Company began taking shape with friends conversing over drinks on the porch. Owner Mark Medura and Sales & Marketing Manager Katie Flanagan are longtime friends and former teammates from High West Distillery. Methodical in their approach, now these two genius minds have crossed over as the creators of Level Crossing Brewing Company, Utah’s newest brewpub in South Salt Lake.

But why go from whiskey to beer? “I always had a passion for brewing and beer in general. I left High West—it was sold—and it gave me the opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do for my career, or for the rest of my life,” Medura says as he reflects on some of the early conversations about post-retirement plans. Flanagan and Medura would converse about their aspirations. “Mark and I were always friends, and we had this lull in both my job/his job,” she says. “We started drinking on the porch and hearing about goals in life. All of a sudden, those porch visits were every month, then it was like, once a week.” Finally, the two got a plan in place and started to execute. “It always kept coming back to ‘Let’s start a brewery,’” Medura says.

There are significant challenges to starting up a new brewery. “The biggest hurdle was finding a building. A place that was big enough, ceilings that were tall enough, parking available,” Flanagan says. “Salt Lake has a very aggressive market, so that took a while.” The duo is like-minded in what they envisioned. Medura says, “There were a lot of factors that I wanted, personally, in the building.” The team has a structure near the iconic water tower that fits all of the essentials and non-negotiables.

“We got together, he tasted some of my beers—I liked his plan. I started working on it ever since.”

There are other important factors to a brewery, and one is, without a doubt, the beer. “You’ve got to have great liquid in this industry,” says Medura. “If you don’t have ‘good’ liquid, you’re not going to make it.” Next was the quest to find the perfect brewmaster to deliver great beer to the people. Though Medura was a home brewer who had achieved a good enough skill level to make tasty brews, he knew he had to find someone else for the role. Meeting Medura through a mutual friend, Head Brewer Chris Detrick entered the fray. Detrick, with an accomplished home-brewing career on a solid brewing system, was able to share several of his personal recipes. “We got together, he tasted some of my beers—I liked his plan,” he says. “I started working on it ever since.” And there it was—Detrick left his long-term job as a photographer at the Salt Lake Tribune to fulfill this passion.

During this newfound journey, Detrick wasn’t alone. The local craft beer scene stepped up to offer solid guidance as he took over the reins of the brand-new, 15-barrel brewhouse. Detrick seems quite collected for his first professional brewing gig. Regarding the difficulty of jumping to a professional system, he says, “It’s a learning curve, but fundamentally, it’s all the same processes.” Though he plans to bring a lot of new recipes, he is excited to share a couple beers he has been brewing for a long time. The first beer brewed on the new system was the Amber. (This is also, coincidentally, the first style both Detrick and Medura each brewed at home.) In addition to the Amber, you can find three other beers on tap. American Wheat, Oat Pale Ale and the You-Tah Uncommon. Higher-point beers Dallas Alice (a Blonde Ale) and Detrick’s longstanding brew from way back, Suss it Out (Rye IPA), will be available in tallboy aluminum cans.

The taproom is top-notch, and once the dining is dialed in, LCBC plans to unveil another crowd-pleaser: a wood-fired pizza oven to cook up homemade pizza-dough recipes made with their own spent grain. For now, sandwiches and salads with fresh beer can be enjoyed while taking in the entertainment coming from a stage on the flatbed of a Chevy truck.

“I want it to be just like people are coming over to my house. ‘Hey, let me get you a glass of water; what can I get you? The bathrooms are over that way …’ Just getting facetime with the customer and educating them so it’s more hospitality-based.”

Drawing from their background with High West, both Medura and Flanagan feel that focusing on the hospitality aspect is also key. “With what we are trying to accomplish, it’s not always a job title. I think we are all going to have to wear hats,” Flanagan says, “and that’s why I love what we are trying to create here. This industry calls me back. I love the craft.” As if reflecting on his proudest moments from his previous employment, Medura says, “I want it to be just like people are coming over to my house. ‘Hey, let me get you a glass of water; what can I get you? The bathrooms are over that way …’ Just getting facetime with the customer and educating them so it’s more hospitality-based.”

Level Crossing Brewing Company seems to be the perfect moniker for one of Utah’s newest craft beer establishments. A level crossing is an intersection where a railway line crosses a road or path. Born out of a lot of time spent together with friends, reflection on goals and personal strife, the crossing of the paths of these three different partners just works. We welcome this strength and union, as they will make for a longstanding brewery.


More on SLUGMag.com:
High West Distillery & Saloon: Keeping Park City in Good Spirits
Upcoming Brewery Updates: Unnamed Brewery

Jason Stock's preferred beer style is a good ol' Stout. Photo by Chris Hollands

In the world of beer, there is something for everyone. Whether you like your beer to taste like fruit, coffee, citrus, Lucky Charms or you simply just want your beer to taste like, well, beer, you’re covered. Based on the official Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines, there are over 30 main categories of beer and even more subcategories within each. We had the pleasure of spending some quality time with five head brewers from around the valley who specialize in some of the most popular beer styles that derive from around the world. It was enlightening to learn why these different beers are so important, as well as getting an understanding from the experts about what we should expect when we are enjoying them. Each of these masters were eager to open up about their favorite beer styles and tell why we need to get out and explore the many different beers out there.



Brewer: Brian Coleman | Beer Style: IPA

Commercial Examples: Feelin’ Hazy, Chasing Haze

SLUG: What’s the history of the style?

Coleman: It was brewed with lots of hops because [the British] knew hops were anti-microbial—they were able to keep infection down … They brewed it stronger to put on the boat to their trip to India. … So when they got there, obviously, they tasted it in its form without watering it back down and decided they loved it that way.

SLUG: What can someone expect an IPA to taste like?

Coleman: Mostly hops. But once you get a refined palate for IPAs, flavors can vary quite a bit. You know—your herbal flavors, your fruitiness, your citrus. A good hazy beer will give you some of the malt flavors that are left over. In our beers, the haze is actually made from wheat. … In most good hazy beers you can taste that wheat behind the hops. The wheat comes out more than the barley. So, when you drink those, you can get a nice, wheat-y flavor from it if you’re paying attention to it closely.

SLUG: What do you do for your iteration of the “hazy” subcategory?

Coleman: The tough part with the hazy beers is getting the haze in suspension and having it last. … With our new process that we’ve discovered maybe six months ago … we’ve seen the haze actually stay up in suspension without shaking the bottle. We’ve seen that haze last well over seven months without completely dropping out.


Brewer: Brian Erickson | Beer Style: Pilsner

Commercial Examples: 1842 Czech PilsEner, Brewski

SLUG: Do you put your own twist on the Pilsner style?

Erickson: Our flagship [pilsner, the 1842 Czech Pilsener,] is kind of our take on a true, honest representation. … Then when we’ve done other batches. BrewSki is a beer that we have out right now, which is a great example of a German-style pilsner. [Original owner] Joe “Six-pack” [Petras] would say, “It’s just a pilsner,” but they are worlds apart if you appreciate the subtleties. A German pilsner is hoppier, dryer.
Czech pilsners have a softer hop impression because they use softer water, which is kind of what inspired the original Pilsener. So, even within pilsners, there are all different kinds of pilsners.

SLUG: What can someone expect a pilsner to taste like?

Erickson: A good Czech pilsner is a hoppy [lager] beer and perceived as not bitter. Like, you taste the bitterness—there’s a lot of bitterness, but it’s not harsh. … And then the lager yeast is another thing. What defines lagers and ales is the yeast they’re made with. … It’s not a ton of yeast character, or very little character. That puts the focus on the malt and the hops.

SLUG: What can someone expect a pilsner to smell like?

Erickson: The aroma is very clean and clear. The Czech Pilsner is defined by that Saaz hop. A lot of people pick up black pepper, but to me it’s a very herbal, grassy-type hop. Saaz hops are pretty well defined.


Brewer: Clay Turnbow | Beer Style: Sour

Commercial Examples: Blackberry Sour, Cherry Berliner Weisse

SLUG: What can someone expect a sour to taste like?

Turnbow: I’m looking for you to know that it’s a fruited sour, so I definitely want that fruit to pop. A lot of times, sour can be overwhelming, where you drink it and all you taste is just a shock to your palate … The idea for me is balance. … I’m making this as a fruited sour beer, and I would like you not to only be able to taste the fruit, but have it shine.

SLUG: Do you put your own twist on the sour style?

Turnbow: We are definitely doing more of the Americanized-style sour beers here. We’re doing kettle sours, nothing that is crazy-long barrel-aged stuff like the traditional European styles. Even our Berliner Weisse, we’re not doing a traditional Berliner Weisse with a sour mash, but we’re doing more of the Americanized version where we are just leaving things in the kettle with Lactobacillus [yeast] culture for 48 hours.

SLUG: What is the history of the style?

Turnbow: I’m sure that the history of sour beer goes for all—honestly, I’m sure that beer made in Mesopotamia was sour. I don’t imagine they had great control just getting brewer’s yeast. But to me, historical sour beers starts with Lambic. Cantillon, to me, are the people that, they are the originators, in my opinion … So to me, it’s the Brussels-area people that are making true, spontaneous, Lambic-style beers.


Brewer: Colby Frazier | Beer Style: Cream Ale

Commercial Examples: Rye Cream Ale

SLUG: What can someone expect a cream ale to taste like?

Frazier: Usually, they’re light and easy-drinking beers. Some are on nitro. I like a nitro cream ale, too.

SLUG: What is the history of the style?

Frazier: As far as the history of cream ale, I mean, I think there are examples in Europe—Sam Smith Cream Ale. There are some older examples of the style that maybe come to mind, but around town or in American craft brewing, I think you see a pretty wide variety of what could constitute a cream ale.

SLUG: Do you put your own twist on the cream ale style?

Frazier: It’s the rye, really. We use probably 25 percent rye, actual grain. … It’s a light-bodied ale. We fine it—I don’t have a filter, but it appears to be filtered. It’s nice and bright, and it has a kind of a robust, grainy spiciness from the rye. Ours is easy to drink and light—really crisp—and your pilsner drinker can have that when he is sick of drinkin’ my pilsner. … It really does have a distinct rye flavor. It kind of a rich, grain, straight-from-the-field flavor.

SLUG: What is the best way to enjoy it?

Frazier: Aw, man. Ice, ice fuckin’ cold. Any kind of glass you wanna put it in, on a summer day. It’s a lawnmower beer.


Brewer: Jason Stock | Beer Style: Stout

Commercial Examples: Captain Bastards, Outer Darkness

SLUG: Why do you love stouts?

Stock: I think mostly the complexity of the flavors. I like that it’s a little misunderstood, too. I don’t know why that appeals to me. I mean, I’m kind of a metal head, so it’s seen as dark and strong.

SLUG: What can someone expect a stout to taste like?

Stock: Stout is an interesting style in that there are lot of subcategories. So, a dry Irish Stout is going to lean more roasty … [and] should have a little hint of sourness to it. … Milk stouts are typically sweeter. … I find Russian imperial stouts [such as Outer Darkness] probably a personal favorite … With Squatters, we always have Captain Bastards—that’s one of our stouts that’s been around longer than I have, so I can’t take any credit for it—but we still brew Captain Bastards, and I think it’s a great example—kind of middle-of-the-road American-style stout. … It’s a really cool style to play around with because I think it lends itself to a lot of flavor additions—fruits or coffees work well in it.

SLUG: Do you put your own twist on the
stout style?

Stock: I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to brewing, honestly, for the most part. My mentor, Jenny Talley, really engrained the respect of beer styles into me, and I’m grateful for that. … We do play around with the style as far as adding fruit or coffee, things like that—or barrel aging.


There is so much we can learn about the variety of beer in these classic styles, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. As head brewers get creative and the people speak with their dollars, new styles are being created, defined and eventually recognized as another official beer style. Thanks again to Brian Coleman, Brian Erickson, Colby Frazier, Clay Turnbow and Jason Stock.  Cheers!


More on SLUGMag.com:
Beer of the Month: Chasing Haze
The Night Shift

Head Brewer Nils Imbolden spearheaded Wasatch’s Kick-Back Series, a small-batch, highpoint treat available at the Park City Wasatch Brew Pub.

Wasatch Brew Pub

250 Main Street, Park City || 435.649.0900
M–F: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sa–Su: 10a.m.–10 p.m.
wasatchbeers.com

If you ever need a reason to visit Park City, Utah, Wasatch Brewing’s Kick-Back Series might be just the ticket. “Trying to get beer-drinking people up here from Salt Lake, it seems like we’re Wyoming—sometimes it’s a struggle,” says Nils Imboden, Head Brewer at Wasatch Brewing and architect of the Kick-Back Series, speaking about some folks’ reluctance to make the journey. He loves the place where he lives. An avid outdoorsman, he frequently takes advantage of the area. Regarding what he would recommend to do, a few top choices consistently come up. “We have some of the best skiing, mountain biking, hiking and backpacking in the world,” he says. Park City has stellar outdoor recreation, free parking, free public transit, great shopping and some of the best restaurants and bars, making for what Imboden favorably calls “the easiest pub crawl.”

Spending time with Imboden, it’s clear that he’s passionate about everything he’s involved with, including his city, activities and—of course—the beer he brews. It’s no surprise that he is doing everything he can to add value to the beer scene just a short 25 minutes up Parley’s Canyon. This ambitious head brewer is changing the game for one of Utah’s most iconic beer brands with his big ideas. “We’ve wanted to branch out and do a little more one-off stuff. We did get a little caught in the groove of being complacent,” Imboden admits. He understands the craft beer world. “With the growing beer-nerd culture, people are always looking for something new, looking for something that’s exclusive,” he says. This pushes him to come up with fresh ideas and resulted in the Kick-Back Series.

“It’s homage to this facility. We’re just bringing it back to our Wasatch roots.”

The Park City native and Head Brewer for Utah’s oldest post-Prohibition brewery could have just sat back and churned out the same beers over and over—but that isn’t how this guy works. He insisted on possessing some creative influence over future products, and one of his visions was to create a rotating set of highpoint beers, the Kick-Back Series. “There were some arguments I had to let go and some I stuck to,” Imbolden says. “I think the beer speaks for itself.” The project had been in the works for more than a year and a half, and it finally found the light of day this past February with the release of four new beers.

Everything about the lineup was thoroughly thought out, from the initial styles to the can design. “It’s homage to this facility. We’re just bringing it back to our Wasatch roots,” Imboden says. The label contains more than a few nods to the past with the classic design. “With the Kick-Back Series itself, that’s our original logo on the cans, and that was something I wanted to focus [on],” he says. “With this being the original facility, we’re canning it here. That’s the original Wasatch Brewery logo. Before the Squatters-and-Wasatch merge in the ’90s, it was that emblem of the Wasatch Mountains and what we’re surrounded by, so I really wanted to focus on that. Our graphic designer just knocked it out of the park. I came to him with a page of what I had in mind for a logo, and to see it actually come to fruition is always nice. You’ve got to have a decent-looking logo on the can, and that was one of my sticking points.”

“I see what people like. You don’t get people standing in line for lagers.”

The Kick-Back Series isn’t without a slight bit of in-vogue intrigue, as it includes the popular New England Style Double IPA. Generally known as a traditionalist who cherishes the brewing process as well as its classic roots, Imbolden nonetheless understood that throwing in a newish style like a hazy IPA was a move he needed to make: “What do people stand in line for most?” With this series, he wanted to hit all of the boxes by beginning with an Oatmeal Stout, American Craft Lager, West Coast India Pale Ale and a New England Style Double IPA. “I see what people like. You don’t get people standing in line for lagers,” Imboden says.

Overall, the risk seems to have paid off, as the opening run of approximately 5,000 cans of each style has sold well. “It’s good to see how well the series has been received.” In the 15-barrel brew house, the Kick-Back Series is taking up approximately 20 percent of the volume. Wasatch is planning to have several additional styles during the year, including a dry-hopped saison, India pale lager, Oktoberfest and a schwarzbier. The hope is to have a dozen or more labels to rotate during the year.

“With the growing beer-nerd culture, people are always looking for something new, looking for something that’s exclusive.”

This Park City facility has always been R&D for the company, where Imboden test-brews collaborative recipes and dials them in. “If it sells really well, we’ll take it on in our Salt Lake facility,” Imbolden says. “The whole point of this series is that it is small; it’s just here. Likely, none of these beers will be distributed outside of Utah. I would like to see it in liquor stores, but then that would defeat the purpose of the series.”

Do as Imboden says and use the free parking or pull up curbside. Leave your flashers on and run in to grab some beer to go at the original Wasatch Brewery. However, if you can’t make it up the canyon, you can find Wasatch beer at all of the Squatters and Wasatch pubs in the valley.

Photo: Eleanor Lewis

Beer Name:Tripel Stamp
Brewery: Proper Brewing Co.

ABV: 9.3%
Serving Style: 22-oz. bomber

Rio Connelly and his skillful squad serve craft beer to thirsty patrons at Proper Brewing Co. His team also runs a longer-established, small-batch hot spot, Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House. Our impression is that they forego cliché brewing trends, sticking to classic styles that have stood for decades and even centuries. Connelly finds a thrill in offering a good variety, even digging up super-rare recipes or putting his own spins on a classic.

Proper Brewing Co. introduced the abbey-style ale, Tripel Stamp. This is a complex beer designed to take drinkers on a sophisticated journey while consuming the beverage. Built to embrace a delicate appearance with a high potency, Tripel Stamp is an homage to the Trappist monastery—the origin that helped the style gain its initial footing in the world. It seems that Rio and his own set of monks set out to bring the old world into the new.

Description:

Tripel Stamp, a Belgian-style oat tripel ale, is offered in a 22-oz. bomber. (Another notable tribute is the clever label nodding to the Harry and Lloyd of Dumb and Dumber fame. That’s undoubtedly a classic right there.) When bending back the cap, a sharp and deliberate hiss escapes as carbonation fights to knife through the air. We transferred the beverage into a tulip glass to better showcase the distinctive characteristics of the style. The liquid pours foggy, golden-blonde in color, with hundreds of racing micro-bubbles climbing to the rim. White foam crests atop but dissipates quickly. Faint scents of fermented herbal fruits, ripe banana, citrus peel and hints of spice cake coil above the glass. A mouth swirl covers the tongue with active velveteen carbonation fizz. Pleasantly mild vapors of alcohol linger momentarily. This light and crisp beer is sweet like apple honey. All of these characteristics seek to mask the alcohol, which is lurking just slightly behind the curtains. Coming in at a hefty 9.3-percent ABV, Tripel Stamp has the potential to stamp you out if you are not careful.

Overview:

Delivering a number of beer styles, Proper Brewing Co. does an excellent job keeping things fresh. But given the fact they hold strong to such polarizing beers as the Lake Effect Gose or the popular Gruit proves that there will always be an appetite for deep-cut classic beers. Though it’s a seasonal release, Tripel Stamp has also earned its way into the crowd’s classic craving. “So when someone tries to tell you that you can’t Tripel Stamp a double stamp, just crack one open, plug your ears, and say lalalalalalalalalalalalala,” says Proper Brewing Co.

Proper understands the importance of laying down a solid foundation and taking care of their customers. Connelly is a creative brewmaster who is always looking for ways to deliver something interesting for all. Please don’t get us wrong—new trends aren’t completely off the table, but their ability to show a level of restraint allows the Proper name to continue expanding and strengthening the brand. Recently, Connelly and his team opened another new location, Stratford Proper in Sugar House, and expect to open Craft By Proper in downtown Sugar House later this month. This presents even more access to an array of great beer, tasty food and a friendly environment—and everyone can appreciate a gathering place where beer flows like wine.

Cheers!


More on SLUGMag.com:
Craft By Proper: Utah’s Only Utah-Only Beer Bar
Beer of the Month: Recommended Rye Saison

Photo: Chris Hollands

Beer Name: Hop Rising Tropical
Double IPA
Brewery: Squatters Craft Beers
ABV: 9.0%
Serving Style:  12-oz. can

Every now and then, we like to revisit our roots in the craft beer game. We used to pick beers based around theme, and one of our most memorable was the local–craft beer night. That included the tasting of an early standout from Squatters Craft Beers, the original Hop Rising Double India Pale Ale. Looking back, Hop Rising really made a lasting impression on the two of us. This beer became a go-to hoppy beer. At the time, there may not have been many other beers that offered the distinguished, hop-heavy flavor and ABV value for the price (and let’s be honest—we all know that there’s a significant cost hike when you commit to a craft beer lifestyle). Hop Rising Double IPA established a secure place in Squatters’ lineup history. Nonetheless, the local brewery presented the reimagining of their popular legacy beer, Hop Rising Tropical Double IPA.

Description:

We poured a chilled Hop Rising Tropical from its 12-oz. aluminum can into a Spiegelau IPA glass. The transfer releases full-bodied bubbles of all sizes, commanding the top of the beverage that leaves a sticky, cream-colored foam. Through the clear-orange liquid, a noticeable amount of carbonation frolics from the etching in the bottom of the glass. The exotic hop combination creates a tropical aromatic experience, showcasing hints of fruit zest layered over familiar sweet malts. Small sips give hints of biting hops followed by juicy blasts of mango and citrus. This flavor profile alone proves the expertise of Squatters Craft Beers, as there is zero fruit actually added to Hop Rising Tropical. The mouthfeel is clean and sharp, which contributes to the well-roundedness and full enjoyment of the beer. Being fans of Hop Rising for all of these years, this new variation gives a pleasant bit of zing while reminding us why we were so fond of the original.

Overview:

Tweaking long-standing brands seemed to be a trendy move prior to the “haze craze” that has taken over these days. Purists may prefer to leave things the way they are because it’s important to maintain a certain sense of history. On the other hand, there are a lot of innovative people who always want to continue to evolve. While we understand both sides to this argument, we tend to lean toward the creative side, in this case.

Squatters took a beer made for hop heads and turned it into a potential gateway beer for those new to the IPA style—while keeping those of us who love the original happy with another close option. Hop Rising Tropical Double IPA positions itself as a refreshing, next logical step in the history of one of Utah’s most renowned beers. Both Hop Rising selections are easily identifiable because of the bright colors and the well-known photo of their master brewer, Jason Stock, impaling a hop with a pitch fork. This Hop Rising Tropical Double IPA can design touts its tropical elements with a perky, yellow-and-pink palette. Of course, we don’t know the future of either the original or this newer version, but we are positive that there is something for everyone regardless of which you prefer.

Cheers!

Unlocking the treasure, the pour is effortless. It surges into a willi glass with a gurgle of micro–air bubbles. Gathering to a head of pure-white foam, a shallow barrier is formed between the lips and the reward. Photo: Chris Hollands

Beer Name: BrewSki Mountain Lager

Brewery: Bohemian Brewery

ABV: 4.0%

Serving Style: 12-oz. can

Utah’s premier lager shop is sharing something exciting this winter season. Bohemian Brewery re-launched the popular BrewSki Mountain Lager. Originally a popular collaboration with Solitude Mountain Resort, this beer spans all of the local ski resorts this go-around. Proving to be a hit with the support of just the single resort, the expansion is definitely warranted. You can find it served on draft with custom, specific-destination-branded tap handles at each of the resorts. In addition to the draft option, the BrewSki lager is available in six-packs at many of the local grocery stores. This is perfect for those of us who are a little less inclined to travel up the canyons to enjoy the winter wonderland.

The BrewSki lager doesn’t stray far from what Bohemian does best. They stick primarily to a traditional-lager brewing process, using only the classic ingredients of water, barley, hops and yeast. Full disclosure: We are not skiers, so it is a good thing this is not a “Ski Resort of the Month” column. However, we can take a cold ride down something we do know a little about, Bohemian Brewery’s BrewSki Mountain Lager.

Description:

Looking at the can instantly transports the mind to a cold playground. This is something a big beer company has tried to do for years, yet Bohemian seems to execute it with the thrill of a craft brewery. To get the setting right for this beer, we ensured that the 12-ounce, light-blue, snow-glazed aluminum was properly iced before cracking the top. Unlocking the treasure, the pour is effortless. It surges into a willi glass with a gurgle of micro–air bubbles. Gathering to a head of pure-white foam, a shallow barrier is formed between the lips and the reward. BrewSki Mountain Lager has a pale-yellow tint that beautifully reflects its surroundings in the glass. This feature of the beer is perfect for the snowy landscape of the resorts it’s served in. As the bubbles pop, the aroma showcases hints of slightly sweet fruit and herbal flowers. The mouthfeel of this legendary style is spot on, keeping it light and easy to drink. With modest sweetness and soft hop bite, it is enjoyable. If you tend to like traditional, mass-produced lagers or are a craft beer enthusiast who wants an uncomplicated break from crazier beer styles, this is the perfect brewski.

Overview:

Though German-style lagers appear to be simpler styles, there is nowhere to hide flaws. Because of this, pilsners are often regarded as one of the most difficult beers to make well and repeat. This brewery has churned out some of the most consistent and approachable craft lagers for the better part of nearly two decades. If someone in Utah is searching for this style of beer, we would certainly send them for a garlic burger and a lager at Bohemian.

We love the fact this Midvale-based company has expanded beyond Solitude. Now Brighton, Alta, Snowbasin and the home of our state’s largest Oktöberfest celebration, Snowbird, proudly serve the BrewSki Mountain Lager. It is OK to seek past the stouts and porters this winter and look toward the brightness of a crisp, clean lager to consume in conjunction with your snow-sport activities. As the brewery states, they aimed for an “extremely approachable [beer] for winter-sports enthusiasts of all abilities.”

Cheers!

With balance from the tropical hops, the finish presents hints of fresh grass and slight yet welcome bitterness. Photo: Chris Hollands

Beer Name: Ferda

Brewery: Templin Family Brewing

ABV: 8.2%

Serving Style:  16-oz. can

Guess who’s back? After short time away, Kevin Templin, former head brewer of Red Rock Brewing Co., once again successfully immersed himself into the Salt Lake City brewing scene. Although, Kevin and wife Britt Templin weren’t just taking a vacation from the beer world, a life they have known for well over two decades. They were putting forth fantastic effort that they’ve brought to the booming Granary District, another must-visit location for adult beverages. Launched this past October, Templin Family Brewing hit the ground running. The amount of detail put into the project is remarkable, and even more so how quickly it appeared to come together. Though T.F. Brewing will be focusing heavily on lager beer, every aspect of the operation looks to be seamlessly thought out, including the first canned beer, a big Double India Pale Ale. T.F. Brewing features a modern space, diverse food trucks, a variety of beer, and even the glassware selection hits the mark. All proof that Templin’s true grit prevails, producing a selection beyond the assortment of wholesome lagers is the Imperial India Pale Ale, Ferda.

Description: A tall 16-oz. aluminum can showcases Ferda’s sleek label design with the classy moniker T. F. Brewing. The proper glassware is a slam dunk. It is slender yet large enough to fit every drop of goodness. Cracking the can, a liquid surge of bright-copper haze consumes the big drinking vessel. The bubbling froth forming at the top is clean, white and initially thick, protecting the treasure below. First whiffs of this Double IPA present hints of classic West Coast IPA flavors and citrus. Ferda’s mouthfeel is crisp and sharp while delivering a precise display of hops and sweetness. With balance from the tropical hops, the finish presents hints of fresh grass and slight yet welcome bitterness. For a super-hoppy beer, it’s well crafted and hides the alcohol well. This is a beer well-suited to start out the night or to close it down.

Overview:

T.F. Brewing offers a heavy selection of exceptional lagers, proving that Kevin wants to do what he loves and to love what he’s doing. With a personal affinity for German beer styles, Kevin sought to open a place mimicking the traditional family breweries he is so fond of. We have found many brewers clearly united in their love for a good lager and the amount of care it takes to get them right. Unlike a hoppy beer, there is little to hide behind in a clean German-style beer. Yet, another common sentiment among the brewing community is that the IPA is king, so it makes sense to ensure that one is available as casual patrons pass on through.

Head brewers have admitted that recipes aren’t always dialed in when working with a brand-new system. It could take a few batches to get accustomed. It’s Templin’s dedication to perfection that allowed the first batches of Ferda to shine so early on. We are sure that he is always working to make each beer the best it can be because he has always been a perfectionist in this aspect. Templin Family Brewery is meant to be a place to visit and enjoy the environment, people and beer. Though Kevin once told us the next big thing in beer was “the German pilsner,” he will make sure that his family brewery has something for everyone. If history is on Kevin’s side, Ferda will become a staple offering—much like another popular local Double IPA that Templin had his hand in during his previous gig, Red Rock’s Elephino.

Cheers!

The added java may not affect the color, but it is a stronghold on the aroma. Photo: Chris Hollands

Beer Name: Coffee Cream Ale
Brewery: Kiitos Brewing

ABV: 4.0%
Serving Style: 12-oz. can

Are you looking to try a beer that is effortlessly drinkable and contains the maximum amount of flavor? This is a great place to start. We love coffee and beer—don’t you?

Coffee Cream Ale from Kiitos Brewing carried home a gold medal from this year’s Great American Beer Festival. As we sat among the hordes of brewery employees in the Colorado Convention Center during the awards ceremony, we were elated to witness locals receive the highest honor. Coffee Cream Ale won the top award in the competitive Coffee Beer category. “I still cannot believe it happened,” says Kiitos Head Brewer and mastermind Clay Turnbow. “It was great for the entire team to see our hard work and attention to detail pay off.” It’s impressive for a young brewery, opening up just over a year ago, to win such a prestigious award. And without a doubt, winning the craft beer equivalent to an Oscar or Grammy has certainly bumped the popularity of the beer. “We have [definitely] noticed an increase at the tavern and for cans to go,” Clay says.

Kiitos’ Head Brewer reserved this recipe from his extensive home-brewing days and was pleased to offer it at the launch of Kiitos Brewing. Blending coffee with beer is not a new concept, but recently merging the two popular beverages into a lighter style of beer is gaining increased popularity.

Description:

Distribution of Coffee Cream Ale expanded only weeks before the medal-winning beverage was crowned, allowing us to purchase it from our local Smith’s grocery store. Pouring a frosty 12-ounce can into a branded tulip glass presents a thin, white lining of carbonation resting on the top of the fill. Visually, Coffee Cream might throw spectators off as it pours a flawless, golden-yellow hue instead of a dark shade one might expect from coffee. The added java may not affect the color, but it is a stronghold on the aroma. Influential fragrances of La Barba coffee blend perfectly with the sweet malts. Smooth Guatemalan coffee with hints of sugary malts are picked up during consumption. This beverage is super crisp and light in mouthfeel with bright flavors, making this brew supremely balanced and refreshing—quite the opposite of darker coffee beers that generally come across on the heavy side. Coffee Cream Ale resembles a cold-brew coffee with just a touch of raw sugar.

Overview:

Kiitos Brewing and newly rebranded Shades Brewing were the two breweries that took home GABF gold medals for our state this year. We are cheerful and proud of the recognition the Beehive State receives when the locals do well in these influential competitions. When asked how winning will affect not only the brewery but also the Utah beer scene, Turnbow says, “For now, it helps our sales team sell the beer, and it’s a nice talking point for the tavern staff … I think it helps get rid of the ‘4-percent beer is watered down and thin’ stigma.”

Kiitos entered four beers into the GABF competition. Though Turnbow was confident about the quality of Coffee Cream, he actually thought the Barrel-aged Imperial Red had the best shot at placing for a medal. We agree with the judges’ assessment that Coffee Cream Ale is one of the best coffee beers in the land. However, it is recommended and obvious with local craft beer enthusiasts that you should give any and all of Kiitos beers a try.

Cheers!

SeaQuench Ale pours a light-straw yellow that falls on the hazy side of the spectrum. Photo: Chris Hollands

Beer Name: SeaQuench Ale
Brewery: Dogfish Head

ABV: 4.9%
Serving Style: 12-oz. can

Something weird this way comes to our beer market. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery (and arguably one of the most recognizable names in craft beer), raised the Utah flag surrounded by a sea of silver brewing equipment—and we are rightly stoked, to say the least. We are amped when big-name breweries come knocking on our door. Calagione helped spearhead the growth of the first wave of craft beer by positioning his Delaware-based brewery as one of the leaders in thought-provoking, experimental brews. Founded in 1995 with a tagline of “off-centered ales for off-centered people,” Dogfish Head has surely made a name for itself. Years ago, this brewery’s beers were among our most sought-after when we traveled out of Utah.

The initial lineup slated for our state includes several classics: Flesh and Blood IPA and the popular 60- and 90-minute IPAs. But the most interesting offering thus far is the session sour, SeaQuench Ale, a unique mixup of a gose, berliner and kölsch. It is a lower-alcohol-content beer brewed with black limes, lime peel, sour lime juice and sea salt.

Description:

Cracking the cold can, we can almost hear it whisper a hissing “welcome”—or maybe it’s just our excited ears playing tricks on us. Nonetheless, we transfer it into a name-branded goblet, which seems to fit this multi-category beer well. Loads of bubbles generate, creating a white, foamy head that dissipates swiftly. It pours a light-straw yellow that falls on the hazy side of the spectrum. As we dive in for the first investigative sniff, hints of graham cracker, citrus and zest are picked up. From the preview, we are expecting the beer to be extremely salty or overly sour. To our blissful surprise, the beer is neither. DFH has crafted a beer that is tremendously subdued in the sour department. Seeking to build on the adjunct ingredients, tart lime bursts upfront followed by sweet bread from the malts with a small touch of salt to polish it off. The flavor is well-balanced, crisp and refreshing. It’s a great thing that these were made sessionable for how crushable they are.

Overview:

Dogfish Head Brewery is known for pushing the creative liquid limits. SeaQuench Ale seems to represent mature thinking, or a more mainstream approach. This is a beverage that will appease all types of drinkers—not limited just to beer, but wine- and margarita-lovers, too. From a brewery that has brewed beer using everything from corn chewed up and spit out by their staff to high-end ingredients like saffron, we may have been expecting something a little more adventurous. The initial offering coming to Utah via Delaware may seem a bit tame, but likely, this brewing powerhouse will slowly infiltrate the market with plenty of the odd ales we have come to know and seek out. Many of the local high-end beer bars have already started to special order additional DFH products, and there is no shortage of interesting beer to try. As mentioned before, we are always pleased when we get breweries to enter our shops. We just wish that this one was five years sooner because a beer like SeaQuench Ale would have been epic exploratory magic circa 2013. As of now, it’s just a pleasant, easy-to-drink, well-balanced beer we really enjoy.

Cheers!