- Mike Riedel
Pale ales are one of my most prized beer styles. They can come in many forms, and are influenced from all over the world. This week, I found a couple of ales that take their cues from two very different beer cultures: Belgium and Australia.
Silver Reef Brewing Co. Color Country Red: This is the first beer that I've had the chance to sample from Utah's southernmost brewery. Silver Reef Brewing Co. debuted in December, and is still relatively unknown to many beer drinkers along the Wasatch Front. This red beer pours a slightly hazy, deep amber color, with a two-finger dense off-white head. The foam creates some nice soapy lacing clinging down the glass. Give it a good sniff, and you'll find aromas of honey, light caramel, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, herbs, grass with light pear and spicy Belgian yeast. The nose is pleasant with good balance and a complexity of dark and bready malt and earthy hops. Upon first sip, I was met with tastes of honey, toasted biscuit and nuttiness. For the most part, it's dry and cracker-like. Herbal notes, grass, light pear and apple try to add balance, creating an herbal and toasted earthiness that's pleasing and complementary. There's light-to-moderate herbal and spicy bitterness on the finish, with lingering notes of caramel and light peppery yeast. For the style and ABV, there's a good amount of robust complexity, and a balance of dark, bready malt, earthy hops and light fruity yeast notes, with zero cloying flavors after the finish. It excels in its dryness, which adds to the light carbonation and body. It's very smooth, lightly creamy, bready and slightly crackery, with an overall body that is nice. The 4% alcohol is very well hidden, with zero warming after the finish.
Overall: This is a quenchable red that doesn't let its spicier Belgian side get too out of control. This was a lot cleaner than I expected from the yeast character; but was still an enjoyable offering, and fit the style well.
Proper Brewing Co. Haka: This Australian-influenced pale ale sits in the glass with a very deep golden and somewhat hazy rusty color. A huge head forms and hangs around forever in a frothy cap. Light orange zest greets the nose first as you take a whiff. Next comes just a bit of hops bite, with a light touch of bright and citric bitterness. The hops play nicely with the initial orange scent. The beer greets the tongue with the biscuit malt from the scent up front. Next comes the light to moderate hops punch. The bitterness is mostly citrus-forward, with some bright notes of lemon and just a touch of grassiness before the orange blends itself into the flavor. The orange is much more subdued on the tongue than in the scent, plus it is less fruit-forward and a little more bitter. Like the scent, the orange flavor is more rind than fruit. The flavor that lingers on the tongue is the bitterness of the hops, with just a touch of the blood orange behind them.
Overall: This is a solid pale ale at 4% ABV. A substantial dose of hops is accompanied by just a touch of fruit that keeps the drink interesting.
Silver Reef's brewery is located at 4391 S. Enterprise Drive in St. George, and the beer is for sale at the brewery's retail store now. Kegs are only just creeping into area bars, so keep an eye out. The Haka has only been on tap for about a week at Proper Brewing Co. and at Craft by Proper. As always, cheers!