- Mike Riedel
SaltFire - Mobius Trip (Utah Plum): The latest edition of the Mobius Trip series of barrel-aged sour ales features locally-sourced plums, and was aged in oak Chardonnay barrels. The color of the brew is hazy straw, with carbonation that is just short of spritzy. An aggressive pour provides some foam for a short while, but it quickly dissipates. It does have a nice glow in the afternoon light. The nose has plenty of Chardonnay barrel sweetness that sits on the fence between wine grapes, tropical apricot and plum. With its hints of smooth dry spice (pepper), wild funk, and a peachy/apple scent, this one is rich and very much like wine.
Initial flavors of oaked earthiness, robust Chardonnay wine and biscuit/yeast are bright and puckering. It's slightly boozy in the body, and the yeasty tartness becomes fruity, with apricot, plum and citrus rind. Throughout, there is a hint of herbal bitterness with a minor amount of burnt rubber rounding out the end. The finish is dry and semi-dusty.
Overall: This is a highly drinkable ale that is medium/full-bodied, and has awesomely tight carbonation that reminds me of a sparkling Chardonnay spritzer. The 8.0 percent alcohol, while noticeable, doesn't overpower, but it sure hits you afterward. This is one of those beers that will age well, but the overall flavors tell me that this is perfect for drinking now. I'll still stick one in the cellar for experimentation purposes, and will definitely seek this out again.
Fisher - Hazy Train: The pour reveals a pale, cidery, grapefruit juice body with mild haze, significant opaqueness and zero turbidity—kind of halfway between a traditional APA and hazy pale ale, but very "juicy"-looking. A really nice off-white head of soft, sudsy bubbles holds up remarkably well, and provided really solid rings of soapy lacing. A wonderful pop of dank hemp, green onion, and sweet malt emerges on the front of the nose, and gives it the initial feel of a much larger beer. Those three strong notes linger, with layers of grapefruit juice, lemon-lime, green grape and biscuit in the background. The onion notes really stand out, mixing with a pithy citrus end, really unique and interesting for a smaller ABV pale ale. I'm digging this one.
The taste can't keep up, but that's not necessarily surprising given the 5.0 percent ABV. Still, it's very solid. Grapefruit juice, damp grass, hemp, a little resin and some stone fruit are the most obvious takeaways, along with a strong mineral note, followed by a touch of salinity, maybe a hint of green onion, then a very dry finish with some pithy bitterness. Very little sweetness appears in this one (except for the burbs, which are lovely), which might otherwise take this up a notch, but it's certainly an easy sipper. And again, this is a hazy pale ale, so I'm trying to grade it appropriately. Feel is soft but a tad thin, though that's helped by the robust head and prickly carbonation.
Overall: This one isn't going to knock your socks off, and if you're comparing it to big hazy IPAs, you might be likely to turn your nose up at it. But for what it is, I think it's pretty damn solid. The dankness and hop onion notes (which I like) are quite unique, and I'm greatly enjoying it.
Wading your way through Fisher's ocean of pale ales can be a lot of fun; compare Hazy Train with a more traditional American pale ale, and you can really pick up what makes this style so popular. This plum-infused Mobius Trip comes in an attractive bottle, and can be purchased to go or enjoyed at the Saltfire's pub. As always, cheers.