- Mike Riedel
I found myself in the midst of holiday shopping hell last week. As soon as I realized that I was getting my ass handed to me by real world stores and their online counterparts, I knew that I needed some help. Thankfully, a couple of pints saved my sanity, and gave me the will to carry on. These two beers saved the holidays at my casa—so I thought they might help you out as well.
Salt Flats Brewing Co. Barrel Aged Kilted Harley: Pours a nearly opaque dark brown. It's not murky or muddled at all, just features a lot of dark hues to keep the light from punching through. The aroma is sweet with toasty malt and sweet bourbon, plus lots of vanilla and gooey caramel. There's a bit of nuttiness and light stone fruit as well. Pecans, apricots, rum and raisins round out a delightful nose.
The taste is sweet with more of the same: lots of fruit, oak, toasted, nutty malt, vanilla-heavy bourbon and creamy sweetness. The barrel character actually helps pull down the sweetness by the finish, and the beer never gets cloying. Just when you think you can pick out the type of bourbon, the tables turn and boozy rum starts to swirl around the palate. It's not overwhelming, but it definitely sets itself apart from the whiskey barrel. The aftertaste is lightly bitter with lots of oak, bourbon and that fruity, nutty malt flavor, without being sugary. There's a lot of complexity here. The fruity malts and lightly tannic oak combine particularly nicely. The mouthfeel is full and slightly slick. I think this beer would be truly great if they managed to turn up the "chewiness;" the flavors just need a somewhat thicker body to really shine. Still, it's not a huge complaint.
Overall: This is a robust barrel-aged heavy style. The complexity is strong, featuring a solid balance of dark/roast/bready malt, bourbon barrel and moderate fruity yeast flavors. It's also very smooth and easy to sip considering the 9% ABV.
Fisher Brewing Co. Two Kings: This pale ale pours a solid amber-blonde color—quite clear considering that it's not filtered—topped with one finger of frothy, off-white head. It recedes gradually over a period of minutes, leaving behind a soapy film on the surface. There's a generous collar around the edge, and a loose draping of lace is left behind on the glass, making for a beautiful-looking beer. The aroma isn't half-bad either, with notes of brown sugar, bready malts, lemony-pine notes and a touch of grapefruit.
It didn't take long for my palate to give this one a hearty thumbs up. A sturdy backbone of pale, bready malts and caramel sweetness soon gives way to some citrusy grapefruit peel and resiny pine notes. The finish is pithy and bitter, with a lingering, astringent aftertaste. It rests on the light side of medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation levels appropriate for the style—fairly refreshing, with a reasonably hoppy kick to it, and definitely session-worthy.
Overall: A very respectable 5.0% pale ale. Its bitterness does tend to take you on a trip into IPA territory, but the malt bill quickly boomerangs you back. This makes for an enjoyable glass, and one that I'd definitely recommend to those in the market for a hop-forward pale ale.
If you're familiar with Fisher's beers, then you know that the vast majority of them are only available at the brewery located at 320 W. 800 South; seek out Two Kings there. Although Barrel Aged Kilted Harley is a limited batch beer, it can be found at various beer pubs around the area, including Salt Flats' production brewery at 2020 W. Industrial Circle. As always, cheers!