- Mike Riedel
You may say that there are too many IPAs out there—and you would not be wrong. They are hugely popular right now, and you can guarantee that every week, you'll see a new one. But guess what? I found a couple of non-IPA beers this week. So this one is dedicated to you, the anti-hop heads and the haze-resistant bros.
Grid City - Nitro Apricot Whole Flower Dry Hopped Pale Ale: This may be one of the longest names to come out of a Utah brewery in recent years, and it comes from a brewery that has taken on specializing in true nitro-conditioned beers. To that end, I think it's appropriate to dub Head Brewer Jeremy Gross as the "nitro maestro." Gross's latest nitro ale pours a slightly hazy golden-amber color, with moderate to heavy amounts of fine active visible carbonation rising quickly along the edges of the glass, and moderate golden-yellow/burnt orange-colored highlights. The beer has a two-finger tall dense, creamy, foamy white head that slowly reduces to a large patch of medium-thick film covering the entire surface of the beer, and a medium-thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing linger. It smells of fresh-picked ripe apricots, intense citra hops, fresh-cut grass, a bit of backing pale malt and no hint of booze. The fruitiness is intense initially, but it gets more balanced as it comes to room temperature.
Upon first swig, there's a mix of intense citra hops and a smack of super-fresh apricots. Some fresh grass, tropical fruit zest and a bit of pale malt round things out. The bitterness is quite strong initially, but it becomes a bit more balanced as it warms up. Finish is lightly bitter with some light sweetness, lingering on the palate for quite a while after the finish. The medium-light body with moderate nitrogen drinks slickly, with a bit of lingering sweetness and no hint of the 5.0 percent alcohol at the end of each sip.
Overall: Damn, this is one nice fruited pale ale. The fruit is intense, but it matches perfectly with the hops bill. I hope more beers like this find their way into Grid City's regular line-up.
Epic - Big Bad Baptist Reserve 2021: The Reserve series from Epic is a blend of the previous season's Big Bad Baptist and its many variants. This year's Reserve is a blend of 5 variants, and thus can have a complex flavor profile. This imperial stout's nose is quite nice, with big, earthy roasted coffee up front, quickly followed by toasted coconut and eventually layers of chocolate—ganache, dark chocolate, cocoa, a nice Mounds bar thing—plus a little peanut butter and some fruity whiskey/rum and barrel notes.
The taste brings a lot of rich cocoa, dark chocolate, ganache, even a little fudginess, with more baking spices and cookie dough. Peanut butter and toasted coconut play beneath, with some added nougat character and coffee. It's a little roasty and earthy from this point on, as vanilla from various whiskey barrels enhance the already-noticeable 13 percent alcohol. The booziness brings some warming rummy notes as it comes up to temperature.
Overall: Solid—not my fav of the Baptists, but good. There's a lot happening in this bottle and my tiny brain has a difficulty keeping up with it all. Its many layers offer a smorgasbord of pastries and confections for even the fussiest palates.
As far as fun goes, these are both a blast. However, they are on opposite sides of the alcohol spectrum, so beware in that regard. As always, cheers!