- Mike Riedel
I'm pretty much done with winter. My disposition is about as gray as the sky, and my beer cravings are skewing more toward the spring beer styles. I guess this week's selections represent those cravings. Both are very different, but similarly spring-like in attitude.
Kiitos Brewing Double Dry-Hopped Pale Ale: This pours a nice hazy orange-juice color, with three fingers of just slightly off-white head. The beer is half hazy but not totally clouded, with lots of visible carbonation. There's an attack of tropical fruits right away, with pineapple and a stone-fruit cocktail assaulting the nose; a touch of juicy mandarin orange and zesty grapefruit rounds it out. This beer smells ridiculously good!
The beer follows the nose with a wave of pineapple bombarding my taste buds. Some mango, peach and pear follow behind all that pineapple. The tropical and stone-fruit notes transition into the mid palette, and there is a really faint note of white bread crust. As the beer moves into the finish, it lets you know it's all beer. More grapefruit zest and orange peel come through than the nose leads on, and the citrus adds a noticeable bitterness. Also, a good amount of grassiness and some of that hop sting gives the beer a bit of balance; the hops linger a bit in the aftertaste. It has a light body with a high amount of flavor. This 4 percent beer has a really long finish to go along with all of the lingering touches the high doses of hops create.
Overall: This is a great example of a Utah brewery working extremely well within the constraints put on it. You know by the body that this is a light beer, but the flavor assault on the tongue pushes you into that "I could give a shit" attitude.
SaltFire Brewing Co. Saison de Trahison—Black Currant and Black Cherry: This pours a semi-hazy ruby-fuchsia color with a good two fingers of fairly dense and fluffy light pink head. The aroma is big with lightly tart berries—the cherry and currants are most noticeable—plus melon with light clove and herbal grass.
At first taste, you're met with black currants. They're slightly tart and full with very little sweetness and carry a slight tannic smack. Some grape and apple flavors are also present. From there, the currants transition into cherry, which is less vague and in full control of its profile. Its classic bittersweet, tart and almond flavors compliment the black currants well. Moderate peppery yeast spiciness begins to emerge from the base Saison. There's a great complexity and robustness that balances the fruity, spicy yeast, currants, bready malt and earthy hop flavors, along with a great malt-to-spice balance and zero astringent flavors after the finish. There is a moderate dryness from the spiciness and carbonation, increasing through the glass, but zero warming alcohol from this 6.3 percent Saison.
Overall: This is an outstanding fruited Saison, offering great balance between fruit and yeast character. Its complexity, robustness and balance of fruity, spicy yeast is very smooth, crisp, clean and refreshing to drink. It might be a touch on the fruity side, but there is no residual sweetness. Never overly prickly on carbonation, it's a highly enjoyable offering.
If you choose to go with the Kiitos Double Dry-Hopped, you can find it on draft at the brewery; cans are also available in their brewery store. The berry Saison is available to enjoy at SaltFire and to-go. Ask your favorite beer pub if they have it as well. As always, cheers!