- Mike Riedel
There are a couple of things in life that make me wince a little: tequila and cucumbers. I don't hate them; they just tend to not agree with me. So imagine my surprise when these nemeses showed up in two brand-new beers.
Saltfire Fate Bell: This is part of the Mobius Trip series that focuses on barrel-aged, sour-driven beers. It was aged in Sotol barrels, which—if you're not familiar with Sotol—is a non-agave spirit that has many of the flavor qualities of tequila and mezcal, but absolutely isn't. Before I tried Fate Bell, the opportunity to sample some Sotol presented itself; luckily, it was very instrumental in dissecting all of the unique flavors present.
The aroma suggests lime very clearly, along with some oak and what comes across as tequila. It's also quite earthy, more so than most tequilas or mezcals that I've tried. If they can match the flavor to the aroma this will be a winner, so let's see.
It's definitely tart—very tart, like margarita tart. There's also just a touch of sweetness from the malt. From there, the barrel kicks in with big, oaky flavors that are chewy with mellow vanilla notes. There are some tannins present, possibly from the wood, but it comes across more like Granny Smith apple peel. There's a slight sodium bite that comes from the salt addition, which actually helps to mellow the assertive tartness. The lingering lime is very nice, and the barrel adds a ton of Sotol, making a very unique-tasting sour.
Quarantine Desirability Rating: I'd have to rate this one as a master-class cloistering beer. After my initial session with a single bottle of this 7.5 percent sour, I was able to construct a pillow fort, the likes of which Rome has never seen. No stupid girls allowed—just me and my super-pooch, Henry. To be fair, he kinda bankrolled the entire project, so I kinda had to let him in.
Kiitos Cucumber Tart: I love a fresh cucumber. Slice them into spears, salt them up and go to town? It's a wonderful thing. However, over the last couple of years, they seem to be less kind to me, lighting me up like a lightsaber after nibbling the smallest chip. So I was a little apprehensive about swilling a beer full of hot, burp-inducing gourds.
The nose is heavy on the cucumber, which has a serious fresh perfume about it, almost like a summer salad. Lemon and lime swirls around as well, with yogurt rounding out the aroma, The taste is much more subtle on the cucumber, but tastes as fresh in the mouth as it does in the nose. I can't help but think it's artificial, but I've been assured it's the real deal. The lemon-lime flavors remind me of fresh tonic water—dry and slightly bitter—with a sourdough finish. The beer is light and effervescent on the palate, with fine and bubbly carbonation like soda. The effect is quite refreshing, and the light body does indeed make it crushable (and without the hot burps).
Quarantine Desirability Rating: As cloistering beers go, this one dips into the basement. I mean, the last thing you want from a 5.0 percent Rapunzel beer is to have it open the doors to the tower to show how beautiful the world outside is. This beer is like rappelling down those long golden locks and into a Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning mind-bender—less Lidsville and more Land of the Lost.
You'll find Kiitos' Cucumber Tart at the brewery. If you have a cat, you might want to drink it while he/she is occupied, because cats and cucumbers are not a pretty pair. Saltfire is gaining a fast reputation as a prime player in the sour beer game, so hit the brewery soon for a bottle of Fate Bell. As always, cheers!