- Mike Riedel
Damn near every beer style in the world originated from outside of North America. Most of the ales and lagers made on our shores are faithful and sometimes irreverent takes on those European O.G. styles. This week's beers take a deep dive, mimicking beloved brews from the Old World.
Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co. La Nymphe Biére D'été: Yeah, that name is a mouthful; luckily, this beer can do it justice. This ale is based on the French-style blonde ale, and is a brilliant representation that captures the spirit of its Gallic roots. It has a slightly hazy, bright honey-yellow body, with a modest amount of lively carbonation. Lemony citrus and a soft, floral, perfume-like character primarily lead the light and delicate, yeast-driven nose. Semi-sweet, crisp, grainy malts are noticeable underneath, while traces of pepper and faintly grassy hay-like hop profiles become perceptible toward the back end.
Taste-wise, it hits similar beats, leading with a subtle mixture of semi-sweet candied lemon peel, fragrant lemongrass and citrus preserves. Touches of vinous and stone fruits follow, with suggestions of unripe peaches, pears and white grape, vaguely found above a mildly sweet, but dry and crisp, toasted backbone. Mid-palate, touches of hop bitterness and gentle spice begin to build. Pepper and barely perceivable phenols combine with greater grassy, earthy and hay-like hop bitterness. Toward the end, delicate spices linger momentarily, before bitter grassy hop profiles add a quick and clean bite of balance. The finishing hints of lemony citrus and traces of residual malt manage to bring the flavor profile full circle, keeping closer to the drier end of the palate.
Overall: This is a fantastic beer. Subtle, delicate and incredibly well crafted, it expertly delivers huge complexity and depth while remaining light, crisp and extremely refreshing for an 8.1% ale. Hop bitterness toward the back-end is perhaps a little more pronounced than expected, but rather than detract from taste, the light astringency it brings only serves to increase drinkability even further. Highly recommended.
2 Row Brewing All About Apricot: This special ale from Midvale took almost two years to create, and it was originally released in May 2019. This beer pours a hazy, medium golden-yellow color, with four fingers of puffy, finely foamy and creamy head. The aroma is full of rather tart stone fruit and sour yeast-bacterial inoculations. If you can get past these more balsamic characteristics, Malt-O-Meal cereal, underripe lemon rind and a small earthy and oaky woodiness begin to take hold. The taste is sharply acidic—lemon, lime and the sour apricot the name would suggest. The yeast adds a bit of musty and white cheesy funkiness, along with balsamic vinegar and bready malts. Solid white wine notes and light barrel qualities come next, and kick in a pleasant woody character. It straddles the line of sweet and dry quite nicely. Super mellow and balanced.
Overall: The chardonnay barrel aging and the apricot addition is very complementary to the saison base, making for a beer that's very enjoyable and easy drinking. The 11.2% alcohol is well hidden and the flavors are complex.
Hoppers has had quite a vibrant bottle program in the past, and it appears to be in the midst of a resurrection. Hopefully, we'll start to see more special releases in the coming months. Look for La Nymphe at Hoppers Brew Pub (890 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale). All About Apricot is still lurking around select spots around the Wasatch Front; I spied it at Beer Bar and at Craft by Proper. If you gravitate toward wild and sour beers, definitely put this one in your cue. You'll spend a few more quatloos, but it'll be worth it. As always, cheers!