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Chichi Beer

Does a flamboyant name make it a great brew?

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MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

I think it was Marge Simpson who once said of a wine, "I can't pronounce it, so it must be good!" I don't know about that, but in the case of this week's beers—which are as interesting to pronounce as they are to taste—your tongue may get a workout in more ways than one.

SaltFire Brewing Co. Saison De Trahison: This newest edition in this rotating series of saisons has a pale golden straw color with enough haze to make the clarity near zero. The aroma is quite aromatic and spicy, with pungent lemongrass blasting out, intermingling with clove-like esters from the yeast. Musty ginger root and stone fruits round out the nose, adding their own unique spices along with some nice minerality. This has a pungent and inviting scent. Due to the workout that my sniffer received, I was expecting a brutal spice bomb; what I got instead was citrus peel (orange and lemon) with mildly spicy white pepper adding some initial bite. The ginger root begins to make its presence known at mid-palate, bringing in a full and round spiciness. There's a slight twang that seems to link the emergence of the lemongrass, as if it and the ginger root flavors were one. There's a little mustiness, and that stone fruit I picked up in the nose comes through toward the end. Minerals kick in on the finish, while the lemon ramps up and lingers. The flavor is more well-rounded and brighter than the nose suggests. The 6.3% body has a little more weight than the classic examples of the style; it's soft and slick, with a light dryness on the finish. The spiciness lingers briefly.

Overall: I'm generally not a fan of ginger in my beer, but the addition of lemongrass brings an enjoyable twist, in addition to the yeast which offers its own spice component. "The spice must flow," as they say in Dune, and in this case, it sure does.

Uinta Brewing Co. Tu Meke Tart: I believe Tu Meke is Maori for "too much." Colloquially, it means "awesome" or "good job." Sure, I guess I can get on board with that. This new beer from Uinta is driven by a load of New Zealand-developed hops. The beer they came up with has a hazy, glowing tangerine-colored body that was topped by a small, white cap that has surprising staying power. The nose was pleasant but rather tame. It's hard to let the hops shine when the base beer has that sharp lactic twang. It's moderately tart, with a bit of toasted grain and some vague citrus peel. The flavor profile started with less tart and acidic zap than I was expecting. Once you get past that, citrus notes dominated, with loads of tangerine and lemon. When those citrusy flavors pass, a nice sprig of herbal flavors takes its place. There is a moderate amount of sweetness from the malt—more lemon pith and bitter lemon peel on the back end and the finish. You'll find excellent mouthfeel in this offering that's medium-bodied for the style.

Overall: Despite the fact that this beer contains no fruit, the hops do create an almost passionfruit-like quality. Uinta classifies this 6.7% beer as a sour blonde ale, but it comes off more like a sour IPA due to the high bitterness.

Both of these are seasonal offerings, and they won't be around long. If you're looking for something to challenge your palate and vocabulary skills, this is a great one-two punch. If not? Just ask for the Frenchie Ginger or the Hoppy Sour Kiwi. As always, cheers! C

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