Now that we’re into February, we can finally start putting all of those heavy, spicy holiday beers into our cellars and pray they won’t become chunky, oxidized messes come next November. Now is the time we get to gear up for the early-spring beer releases: ales and lagers that are sturdy, fruity and light. We have three very different beers for February. One is a classic style, another a hybrid and the last is unique and completely new. Holy Jebus, I’m starting to sound like Glinda the Good Witch. We’d better get on with it.

Double Black Lager
Brewery/Brand: Hoppers
ABV: 4.0%
Serving Style: On Tap
Description: Yeah, this is one of those famous, Utah low-ABV beers, but, oh, this black lager is so much more––probably more than you high-alcohol beer snobs deserve. It pours a near-opaque black, but there are still some ruby hues around the edges. Stick your nose in there, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with clean, roasted malt and coffee. As soon as it hits the tongue, the roasted malts are quite noticeable, but they ultimately give way to a much more ordinary, lager-like finish with just a touch of grassy hop bite at the end. This is not a sweet ale: It’s a dry, roasty lager that follows its traditions to the letter.
Overview: This beer’s strongest points are its balance of leafy, caramel, chocolate and coffee flavors, as well as its nice drinkability. I could easily put a few of these away in one sitting, and plan on doing just that as soon as I’m done writing this.

GhostRider White IPA
Brewery/Brand: Wasatch/Utah Brewers Cooperative
ABV: 6.0%
Serving Style: 12 oz. Bottle
Description: You wouldn’t think much of this beer by its initial appearance. It looks more like cloudy pear juice with a foamy cap, but then those citrusy hops hit your sniffer and, oh baby, you know you’re in for a ride! The taste follows suit with a citrusy bite, almost like a lemon zest and tangerine. The back end is biscuity with hints of spicy coriander, and it finishes dry and bready.
Overview: Holy shit, what a beautiful beer! When breweries get it in their heads that they want to combine two beer styles into one, the result can sometimes be a cluster-fuck of biblical proportions––not the case here. The witbier base and the hop selection make this a perfect year-round beer. Bravo!

Blue Law Porter
Brewery/Brand: Epic Brewing Co.
ABV: 5.9%
Serving Style: 22 oz. Bottle
Description: There are nice, red highlights on this nearly black beer. I don’t know what I was expecting in the nose, but what I found made my eyes open up and my brain take notice. There’s a light-to-moderate smack of blackberries and spruce tips swirling around a nice roasty base. The taste is similar to the nose, except that the spruce is less prevalent. Next comes a hint of berry tannins and some very nice roasted and chocolate notes. A slight berry tartness rounds it out with spice.
Overview: Whereas the Double Black Lager from the earlier review is a textbook schwarzbier, this porter from Epic is something entirely unique. The blackberries create a nice tartness, but could use just a little more help from the juniper to balance it out. All in all, this is a very nice beer that is definitely not run-of-the-mill.

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