Local Beer Reviews

Beer & Spirits

SLUG is back again with a hybrid Brewstillery beer-and-spirits issue, and it wouldn’t be a boozy issue without some local beer reviews. We sent out our best brewery experts Jacqueline Read, Lila Kiron and Rachel Brooks to sample some amazing beers and ciders from local breweries. You’re sure to find something to sip on during your next fake-spring day. 

(Inner) Darkness, My Old Friend
Grid City Beer Works
Inner Darkness

You had me at “inner darkness.” This Czech-style black lager reminds me of a classic winter stout—a perfect adult version of a snow day hot chocolate. In college, I spent a St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, where I developed an affinity for Guinness and all things Irish beer. Sitting at Grid City Beer Works last weekend, I was reminded how light a dark winter beer can be. I paired Grid City’s Inner Darkness ($4.50–$8, depending on the pour) with a sunny, false-spring February day, but it emphasized the seasonal affective disorder in my soul. Its slightly bitter, roasted malt aftertaste and smooth foam kept me interested for my entire stein—and paired perfectly with the Southern gothic fantasy novel I’m currently reading. At 5% ABV, this seasonal release is served on draft with your choice of beer to foam ratio:crisp, smooth or milk. Stop by soon for your chance at a chocolate milk beer shot, a perfect après-ski activity. –Rachel Brooks


Date Night Brew for Two
Shades Brewing
Aquarius Raspberry Stout

Move over champagne, Shades Brewing’s Aquarius Raspberry Stout ($3.05) is the perfect date night drink. While I often scour cans of Shades sours at DABS stores for adventurous new flavors, this review marked my first trip to the brewery’s South Salt Lake taproom. I appreciated the opportunity to explore Shades’ large inventory of refrigerated beers and steampunk-inspired can art. Coming in at 6.5% ABV, I sat at the bar and sipped on a pint glass of Aquarius. The experience was nearly identical to biting into a dark chocolate heart filled with raspberry jam, sans seeds. The limited release stout features a slightly sour raspberry aftertaste and full-body sensory experience that delivers everything I expect from a Shades brew. While I’m not certain if I ate or drank my pint of Aquarius, I am certain that it was delicious and I intend to make it my date for another evening in the near future. –Rachel Brooks


Sweet and Sour Summer
Bewilder Brewing Co.
Hopless Romantic

The Bewilder Brewing Hopless Romantic ($12) is a Belgian-style saison and Bewilder’s first bottled beer. Released the day before Valentine’s Day this year, this pink beer is served in a pint-sized clear bottle and brewed with hibiscus and rose hips in Beehive Distilling gin barrels. As the name suggests, this light and fruity beer is low on hops and high on flavor. The floral and refreshing taste is like that of a seltzer, with an extra kick (probably due to the 7.2% ABV). The initial flavor is crisp, followed by a hint of sour citrus on the back of the tongue. This is a great beer for those who want a brew that is not too bitter, not too tart and a little on the sweeter end. Though this was released in February, the Hopless Romantic feels like it was made for patio drinking in the warm spring and summer months. –Jacqueline Read


Light Peppery Punch
UTOG Brewing Company

When I saw UTOG Brewing Company was releasing a new beer, I knew that I needed to try it out. The UTOG Snapdragon ($3.99) is an Imperial Rice lager with ginger and lime that packs a bright and floral punch. This light brew is a smooth, fruity drink with peppery hints that come through as you sip. The Snapdragon’s mellow ginger taste followed by a touch of citrus is perfect for people who prefer less hops in their brews, but still want the potency of a great beer. The ginger adds a lovely spice that complements the refreshing lime and lemongrass notes, sweetened with just a taste of light honey. It’s a unique drink for those who want to try something new, but with familiar flavors that they already know and love. Snapdragon is the perfect beer to enjoy with dinner, either at UTOG or at home with friends and family. –Jacqueline Read


Tried and True Treasure
Mountain West Hard Cider
Ruby Hard Cider

Hard cider: the happy medium for all occasions when beer feels too heavy, wine too dense and seltzer too fizzy. Mountain West Cider’s Ruby Hard Cider ($5.30) hits the spot no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Smooth and airy, it’s easy to drink and not at all carbonated. This versatile go-to beverage is an ideal complement to any live music venue, casual kick-back or energizing outdoor adventure. Naturally gluten-free, refreshing and light, the melange of applescent jewel tones is instantly uplifting. Tart like a Pink Lady, sweet and bodied like a Gala and scrumptiously Golden Delicious, it is no surprise that Ruby is the original, award-winning cider that started it all back in 2015. Dry yet Cosmically Crisp, this carefully crafted flavor profile has a balanced sweetness with undertones of ruby pomegranate. Harmonious yet complex, this melody brings together the ridgelines of the Appl(e)achians and the Red Canyon. –Lila Kiron


Cider for a Cause
Six Sailor Cider
“Fruits of Gaza” Watermelon Basil Cider

Spring is the season of rebirth, when plants and flowers blossom and our favorite fruits return. Six Sailor Cider’s Fruits of Gaza Watermelon Basil Cider (from $6) brings together fragrant garden-fresh basil and watermelon. Whatever pleasant memory you conjure up when you think of eating fresh watermelon, is exactly where you’ll find yourself when you take your first sip. Not only a tasty treat, this cider supports our neighbors in Gaza with all proceeds donated to war relief efforts. In fact, watermelons are now recognized as a global symbol of solidarity with Gaza, as the colors of the fruit match Palestine’s national flag. Since this cider is nonalcoholic, its delectable, natural flavors appeal to all, making supporting peace a tasty mission. Light and subtle, the apple rounds out this bright, earthy refreshment. In essence, although a watermelon itself can be smashed, the seeds are resilient. Seeds grow again. –Lila Kiron

Illustration: Kit Liechty.

Read more boozy stories here:
My Week with Epic Brewing Co.’s Big Bad Baptists
Hopped Spirits: A COVID-Inspired Effort to Save Beer