- Mike Riedel
It's been a great couple of weeks in the beer-nerd world. There's so much beer diversity happening in our little Utah-shaped corner of that world, it's providing fertile ground for more creativity and innovation. This week's selections are very different from each other, and will appeal to the bitter and fruity sides of every personality. Enjoy!
Proper Puddleduck: This New England-style pale ale is a collaboration brew made with our friends from Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum, Idaho. Since this is in the New England style, it has that turbid honey-orange appearance that's typical for this variety of pale ale. The head is sturdy with an initial finger of white foam that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace drape down the side of the glass as it's sipped. The smell is of citrus zest, grapefruit juice and pine, with a sharp weedy aroma. The taste is much the same with the exception of an unusual black-tea flavor followed by a small dose of lightly sweet malt and crackers. Citrus zest, floral and herbal hop flavors carry on from there, providing that typical IPA bitter finale. The finish is dry and herbal, and there's a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium-bodied mouth feel.
Overall: This 4 percent pale ale is a pretty good beer with lots of different hop qualities coming from an unusual choice of new and experimental hops. As far as its New England qualities are concerned: It lacks the big tropical fruitiness of the style, but excels as a West Coast style in both smell and taste. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Shades of Pale Kveik No. 3: A few weeks ago, I profiled the first of three Kveik beers from Shades of Pale Brewing. As you might recall, the Kveik—pronounced "ka-wike"—is unique Norwegian yeast strain that imparts a citrusy/herbal character into beer, very similar to the lactobacillus flavors you'll find in some Berliner Weisse beers. As promised, I'm offering my impressions of the second Kveik, which is the Kveik No. 3. Confused? Don't be: Kveik No. 2 wasn't quite finished. Kveik No. 3 pours a very nice cloudy pale yellow color, with light carbonation that provides a creamy texture but does little to help the head retention. There's not much in the way of lacing or foam, either. The nose is tart with tropical fruits and berries; some lemon and herbal hops creep in at the very end of the whiff. The taste is nice, starting out with a mild tartness that soon reveals pineapple, mango and some more berry-like sweetness. A good dose of lactic sugar comes in next, adding some creamy vanilla to the tart fruits. The result is a very satisfying sherbet or sorbet quality that takes you into the milkshake realm. The end is a complex citrus salad of lemon, tangerine and orange. With a medium body, it hides its 6.3 percent ABV very well.
Overall: If you're a fan of tart ice cream and shakes, you'll find your happy place here. This is one of the more unique beers on the market, and is definitely worth your time.
Both of these beers are limited and won't be around forever. You can find them both at their respective breweries. As always, cheers!