- Mike Riedel
I've been having a lot of fun over the last few months assaulting my palate with a kaleidoscope of local flavors. To be honest, when I first took this gig, I imagined there would be times when the beer scene would become repetitive or slide into territory that seemed too familiar. That has definitely not been the case. This week, I have more proof of our local beer culture's expanding diversity.
Hopkins Brewing Co. Guava Goddess: This fruited IPA has a cloudy straw color, with a large sudsy head that breaks apart and falls relatively fast. The aroma is guava with some hop spiciness; I also smell some bread, possibly due to the yeast—it's pleasant, but not overwhelmingly strong. As you can imagine, the guava hits first, along with citrus and lychee. From there, I'm met with a balance of malt and bread that seems to be driven by the yeast. Most of the hoppy flavors reside in the aftertaste, which is accompanied by floral and grapefruit peel notes. The bitterness is not too overpowering, and similar to the perceived bitterness of most Northeast-style pale ales.
Overall: The best part about this 4.0% beer is its drinkability—probably because it's an IPA variety most people can get into. The guava comes on even stronger as it warms and jams its fruity boots on the throat of anything else that might surface in the beer. It's really juicy, and what it lacks in overall roundness on the palate, it makes up in drinkability.
Bohemian Brewery Lagerpalooza Baltic Porter: Every spring, Bohemian Brewery teams up with Midvale's Salt City Brew Supply to put on the state's only homebrew lager competition. Lagerpalooza's best-in-show winner gets to take his or her recipe and brew it with Bohemian's team of brewers, then release it to the world. Last year's winner was Curt McCuistion, and his winning beer was a Baltic-style porter. This style of lager hails from the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. It's akin to a Russian imperial stout in flavor but is cold fermented (lagered) for longer periods.
This iteration is basically black in color, with a copper-colored head that falls rather quickly to a froth. The head could have stuck around a little longer, but besides that, it's a really good-looking porter. This beer begins with a big noseful of freshly-brewed black coffee; it's the most pronounced coffee scent I've come across in a Baltic porter. Dark chocolate plays a big part in the aroma as well. The malts offer up notes of dark doughy bread, but the implied coffee notes dominate. The big dose of coffee up front fades slightly and combines with the dark chocolate to create a great flavor combination. The doughy malts join the coffee and chocolate mid-palate, and while all these flavors work through this phase, dark fruits like fig and dates make an appearance. The 7.3% alcohol will add a little color to your cheeks.
Overall: This beer is a sipper for sure, and they obviously won't let you drink too many, but I'd drink these until I couldn't.
As per McCuistion's request, and in an evolution of Lagerpalooza's mission, Bohemian is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this Baltic Porter to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). As for Guava Goddess, you will only be able to find it at Hopkins Brewing Co. on draft until it's gone. Hint: Don't wait too long. As always, cheers!