- Mike Riedel
On any given day this spring, you could find yourself in a torrential downpour, bookended with either sun or sleet (or probably both). I locked onto two brews while experiencing all three over the course of an hour last week, and these beers could not have paired better with this spring's crazy yoyo-ing weather.
2 Row Brewing Razzleberry: The beer poured a clear, bright reddish-purple color, with one finger of fizzy white head. The head faded rather quickly, leaving wisps of lace on the sides of the glass.
The aroma has huge blasts of raspberry and lemon, along with wheat cracker. The taste begins with a rather sour, very dry raspberry flavor. Some grainy tastes emerge up front, with a bit of wood and herbs mixed in. As the taste moves on, the sourness starts to subside with the addition of blackberry; this also supplies more implied woody and earthy notes, which develop as the taste advances. While the fruit and lactic sourness from the base beer become more intertwined, a little bit of raspberry sweetness develops toward the end. Some yeast and hay flavors appear, and you're left with a dry raspberry taste that lingers on the tongue. The body of the brew is medium, with carbonation that's just short of prickly. Had there been more gas, it probably would have come off as too acidic.
Overall: You can tell that a good amount of fruit purée went into this 6.5% brew. Sometimes it can be difficult for fruit to overcome the high sourness from lactic ales. In this case, however, the combo provides a dry fruity quality that gives the fruit a nice unripened feel. This won't convert any non-sour fans, but those of you already in the sour cult will find happiness for sure.
Hoppers Brewing Co. Drifter: This lager has an attractive, slightly hazy copper hue. The head retention was respectable; I'd take her home to mother. The nose is clean, with hints of caramel, dried fruits, nuts and a whisper of grassy hops. The aroma screams to me that this is different from other amber lagers; apparently I need to stop sniffing and dive right in. On my first swig, I opt for three long gulps. The taste begins with sweeter and breadier tastes. The sweetness is mainly caramel in nature, alongside lightly toasted bread flavors. As the taste advances, more sweetness comes to the tongue, and flavors of the light fruits detected in the nose, along with orange, come forward. These sweet flavors linger to the end of the taste, but are balanced out by an upsurge of roasted notes. Some lightly bitter hops of an earthy and floral nature work their way into the finish as well, leaving a nicely hopped sweet burst that lingers on the tongue. The beer is average in terms of its body and carbonation level. Both the body and carbonation suit the sweet, lightly hopped and roasted flavors nicely and establish the brew as an easy drinker.
Overall: This lager seems to have some southern hemisphere influences, probably New Zealand or Australia. The hops provide a bit of spicy citrus that seems to be a cross between the new and old world. For me, this 4% lager seems perfectly designed for spring.
Look for Drifter on draft at Hoppers Grill in Midvale and at Craft by Proper. Razzleberry is, of course, in 12-ounce bottles and can be found at 2 Row Brewing and most beer pubs in Salt Lake City. As always, cheers!