Now that we’re settling into our 2014 beer groove, you may find that big, holiday spiced beers are a bit passé for our February needs. Often, you may go to the fridge, finding that your mouth and brain are still occupied with all of those big, full-bodied beers that you were enjoying all December long. It’s not your fault—it can be hard to get out from under that decadent blanket that your holiday beer-swilling ass has been wrapped up in, but there are completely new offerings out there that will challenge your tongue and keep your “2014 better beer resolution” alive. From new breweries, alternatives to beer and beer styles you may have never wanted to try, there’s no reason not to keep your palate fresh while expanding your beer fridge’s repertoire of great local suds.
Raspberry Stinger Hard Apple Cider
Brewery/Brand: The Hive Winery
Serving Style: 22 oz. Bottle
Description: This one pours a brilliantly clear, golden color with a great show of effervescent bubbles—no head at all. The nose on the cider is crisp and clean with a raspberry-apple tartness. The flavor starts out with sweet apple—not as tart as I was hoping for, but it’s still nice. Raspberry hints come next—nothing too overpowering, but you get a sense of the raspberries, which provide a bit of the tartness I’m craving. The tart aspect accompanies the flavor quite nicely.
Overview: This is the first non-beer review for me, which is stupid. The Hive Winery has been making great ciders and fruit wines in Utah for a couple of years now, so you’d have to be a fool not to experiment with their great selection of limited releases.
Brewery/Brand: Bohemian Brewing Co.
Serving Style: Draft
Description: Pours a pale-golden straw color with a fluffy two fingers of eggshell head. The first thing I get in the nose is Mesquite-esque smokiness. Beneath that, there are hints of biscuit and crackers. The taste starts out with a nice punch of sweet malt. The smoke comes next, taking complete control of the beer. It’s not overpowering, but this is a smoked lager. The end has some detectable, spicy hops lingering in the finish. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium—a very nice smoke beer. I could easily drink this on a regular basis.
Overview: Smoke beers are not for everyone. Done improperly, they can taste burnt and are completely unenjoyable. This offering is subtle and worth your time. Get to know your local Rauchbiers (smoke beers).
Annex Single Hop Golden Ale
Brewery/Brand: The Annex Epic Brewing Co.
Serving Style: Draft
Description: This beer pours a hazy, pale-orange color with a big, effervescent, white head that hangs on for quite a while. The nose is nice and crisp with biscuit and hints of lemon peel. There’s a slight bready component as well. Once you get your tongue on it, you get mild grainy/bready malts. The hops soon take over, providing a lemongrass bitterness that has hints of Czech hop spiciness as well. Toward the end, the hops completely dominate, producing a dry finish that lingers on the tongue.
Overview: The plan for this regular offering is to use different hops in every batch. This version of the beer was hopped with an experimental hop, nicknamed “Lemon Drop.” Considering the size of the seven-barrel brew system The Annex uses, this hop profile is likely to change quite often, so stay on your toes when ordering this beer.
To stay up to date on other Utah Beer News, check out my other musings at utahbeer.blogspot.com. Cheers!