- Mike Riedel
It's nice to finally see the fairer summertime beers of Europe emerge from the calendar's squares. Their bigger and heavier kin are just a bit overbearing for the warmer months. Thankfully, I've found a couple of ales to hold their spots for summer. These two—brand new additions to our local beer scene—take the best of Belgium and sprinkle in just enough of Utah to make them perfect for our summer climate and palates.
Strap Tank Brewing Co. Saison: This new bottled offering has a semi-clear look with a faint haze. The color is a pale, faded yellow, with a craggy tuft of off-white foam. The head has adequate sustainability and girth. The aroma provides rich dimensions with grapefruit and sweet orange fruitiness and the fruit profile is all juice and zest mist. It's not candy-like at all. It offers wonderful highlights of lightly-spicy floral phenols with a touch of toasted malt, and likely some coriander. While it's not super-aromatic, it get its point across, and seems familiar.
Upon first swig, you're met with white vinous undertones right off the bat. Herbal spices are readily apparent hovering about in the middle of the palate. A soft blast of mildly peppery, numbing spicy bitterness fans out from mid-palate, leaving a crater on the tongue. The citrus is all but absent, except in pungent pith and inner rind. The malt profile is polished down to a dull nub; just the essence of grainy husk lingers. There's a somewhat glassy underbelly that stretches across the palate. The foam cap adds to the body, providing a subtle foamy wash on the finish. The 7% alcohol gives off a consistent mild warm glow—not sharp at all, though a crisper, less boozy edge might be a better way to end what had been a mostly tranquil drinking experience.
Overall: You probably wouldn't mistake this for a Belgian import, but its American influences are for the most part subtle and restrained. I like that it seems to meld the two cultures into one cohesive brew. This isn't a beer that's meant to be aged, though I'd like to see what a few months does to it. If you're a saison fan, pull the ripcord on this one.
Epic Brewing Co. White Ale: This semi-murky beer gives off an auric eggshell hue in the early evening light. An ample amount of pillowy soft porcelain foam clings to the sides of the glass. Musty dough and citrus peel rocket through the nostrils, while secondary aromas of fruity yeast esters and herbally sweet coriander round out the clean and welcoming aroma.
The flavor profile exhibits a fine balance of citric acidity and grainy, bready wheat sweetness. The spicing is agreeable and understated; coriander melding seamlessly with static clove notes and phenol undertone. Orange peel provides more pithy bitterness rather than flavor, and serves to offset residual sweetness, lending a quenching near-dryness. It's lightly bodied, but with a slightly viscous mouthfeel, probably from the wheat or perhaps from an oat addition. As it warms, you might be able to coax just the slightest hint of banana. The finish shows off hints of spiced lemon and honey-like malt.
Overall: This is a spot-on witbier, with very few rough edges or flaws—superbly drinkable, and it pleases the palate as it glides down. Its 4.5% alcohol is perfectly crushable for summertime imbibing.
You're going to have to drive or pedal a little harder to obtain Strap Tank's Saison, as it's only found at the Springville brewery. Epic's White Ale, meanwhile, is at most grocery stores along the Wasatch Front. As always, cheers!