The Old Back and Forth with Clay Turnbow, Head Brewer at Kiitos Brewing

Beer & Spirits

I’m sitting at Slackwater in Sandy having beer and pizza, and I notice the guy next to me order a Brasserie d’Orval Belgian Pale Ale. One thing led to another, and now Kiitos Head Brewer Clay Turnbow and I are email buddies! I convinced Clay to engage with me in a bit of email tag for the Mag, and this is what came of it.

SLUG: Thank you so much for doing this back and forth. I thought I would start off the conversation by coming in hot: Can we ever get past some of these awful craft beer trends like pucker-my-face-up kettle sours and cloyingly sweet pastry stouts? What do you think will be the big trends for 2023 and beyond?

Clay Turnbow: Coming in hot with beer trends? Let’s get to it! I think craft brewers and the craft beer consumer get really excited about these new trends, [and] that excitement can lead to innovation and new ways to achieve flavors that were previously not associated with beer. I feel most trends end up playing out in a similar way, [where] brewers and consumers push the envelope to extreme places and the beers that last are the ones that were done well and had a bit of balance.

With the 2023 market forecasts, I foresee brewing becoming localized in exciting ways. Consumers want to support their communities which, to me, means they are choosing the local craft beer that sources their brewing ingredients from the nearest farmers and maltsters while also being conscious of environmental impact.

SLUG: Working in the craft beer biz, I have seen the use of experimental, cryo and hop jams and jellies. Which new or experimental hops are you most excited to use?

CT: There are many experimental new varieties we are bringing in for our new Limited IPA and DIPA brands. We are still making the final decisions, but specifically HS17701 is a really exciting experimental hop from Hopsteiner that we will definitely feature in a few IPAs this year. 90% of our hops come from Idaho farms to keep in line with our “Be as Local as Possible” ethos at Kiitos.

We are doing some trials with hop oil and distillate products that should start hitting our taps early in 2023. I am also interested in using more “theolized” yeast strains in the coming year that can help drive the hop aroma and flavor that people crave in IPAs.

SLUG: Hoppy beers are amazing, but what about the other styles and flavor profiles? What is the one beer that you haven’t got to make at Kiitos? What’s a beer or series of beers that you would love to do?

CT: Complex malt flavors with clean lager yeast is a match made in heaven for me. We recently released our German-style Dark Lager (Schwarzbier) at Kiitos that is my favorite beer we made in 2022. I would like to brew a Doppelbock and then age it in bourbon barrels for a few months.

I really like to have a low-ABV beer available (around 2.5% – 3.0% ABV), and I hope SLC embraces a well-crafted “table” beer soon, because I’m certainly going to make one. However, our next release is the polar opposite: We are releasing an Imperial Barleywine in January with a massive 15.6% ABV, although it doesn’t taste that strong. Funny—I talk about my love for 2.5% ABV beers, and the next Kiitos release might be the highest ABV beer ever made in Utah.

Who says a table beer can’t be 15.6%? I would certainly find myself on—or under—the table after one or two of those. Thank you for your time, Clay, and best of luck to you and Kiitos for 2023 and beyond. Cheers!

Read more on local brewing:
Which Baptist is The Biggest and The Baddest?
Milkshakes and Pastries … Wait, Is This A Beer Column?