- Mike Riedel
It's only January, and I'm already looking toward late spring for a little sensory satisfaction. It's probably all those damn savory proteins that I've been shoveling in my pie hole as of late. No matter. When your cravings light up like a Christmas tree, you either submit, or end up acting like Gayle Ruzicka at a gaytheist wedding. Lucky for me (and you), I came across an ale and a lager that were able to stifle my primitive side and bring me back to civility.
Proper Brewing Co.—Yacht Rock Juice Box: We begin with one of the best beer names on the market; it really sets the tone for what you're about to imbibe. It starts with a rustic, orange-colored hazy body with a lasting coverage of foam atop. Toasted caramel and citrus aromas waft upward—not as much as the name suggests, but pleasing nonetheless. Light, dry grapefruit pulp and pine follow, with a dry, powdery malt-like finish. Toasted dry malt up front sets up the first swig, after which mango, banana and kiwi flavors give way to resinous pine juice and grapefruit flowery hops pounding at the tongue, leaving a hint of white pepper. The alcohol is very low-key, barely noticeable with some sticky citrus and juicy hops sneaking through the big malted body. The finish reminds you that this is an IPA with subdued bitterness that walks you down a path of grass and pine. The carbonation is medium, which helps create a barrier from the sticky malt and hop resin on the tongue.
Overall: While the hop and bitterness level are a bit backward for the style, it doesn't mean this was not entirely to style. In fact, this shows a great balance of malts and hop, with a big, toasty character, while the hops are more aligned to a West Coast-style IPA. Well-hidden 5% alcohol adds to its mass appeal. If you expect a fruit salad hop bomb, you might feel misled by the name, but in the end, this remains a beer I can enjoy frequently for its balance and drinkability.
Kiitos Brewing—Salt Lime Pilsner: The pour is yellow and hazy. A fat white head of creamy foam falls to some shaving foam bits and a thin film on top, with some clinging lace. Whiffs of lime is all you can smell at first, followed by an herbally sweet and hay-like quality. As it warms, you get a little sense of the malt, but the lime is very strong. There is also a different citrus note present on the nose that comes across as lemon.
The taste is surprisingly malty and a little sweet. The lime is dominant but lively on the palate. You also get some spice from the Euro hops that mingle perfectly with the lime, creating that wonderful sweet and spicy taste. The mouthfeel is excellent, with soft bubbles to show you the malt. Hops tingle a bit with bitterness, but this finishes sweeter. That sweet finish comes across more like a shandy than pilsner, without being cloying like a shandy. Once you start drinking, you will notice the malt coming to a roundness, and the finish cleans itself up in a way so the hop bitterness keeps this from drinking like a soda. It has a refreshing, lemonade-like drinkable quality, with a strong aftertaste of lime. The more I drank, the more I liked it.
Overall: If you are looking for something that is akin to a summery Mexican-style lager, this is probably not the pilsner for you. This citrus qualities in the 5% lager are much more round and less drying, pushing this more toward a meal companion or a brunch beverage, like a "beer-mosa."
Act quickly on both of these because they are limited and only on draft at their respective breweries. As always, cheers!