- Mike Riedel
As the weather gets cooler, the beers get darker and heavier. That doesn't mean you can't get a "lighter" full-flavored beer to fill the gaps in your Thanksgiving celebrations. Check out these less than heavy, yet flavorful, options.
Red Rock Brewing Otto: Pours a clear medium golden hue, with one finger of soapy white foam resting atop. It smells of doughy, bready malts and honey sweetness, with hints of herbal hops and melon rind—not the typical hop aromas you'd expect, which is perfect for something new like this.
Fortunately, the taste keeps you on an unusual path. The Cashmere hops come through much more effectively on the palate vs. the aroma, though their fruity aspects do seem a bit out of place here. I'm getting doughy, bready malts and light honey sweetness on the forefront, leading into notes of citrus peel, lime juice and melon rind toward the tail end of the sip. It concludes with a flash of herbal, grassy hop notes and some pale malt graininess, with hints of citrus oil lasting into the finish. It's light bodied, with low-ish carbonation levels that weakly tickle the surface of the palate; it feels smooth and a little slick. It could use a bit more carbonation for a crisper texture, but it's easy to drink as is.
Overall: This is a respectable 7.2% lager that grew on me over the course of my pint. It hints at being a Euro lager, but the New Age hop flavors quickly pull you into the New World. This is an excellent attempt at a non-traditional lager, but if you're not a fan of lagers in general, this likely won't be converting you anytime soon.
SaltFire Brewing Co. Mobius Trip Raspberry: It poured a nice bubblegum color with a good amount of haze. This is a barrel-aged sour ale, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot in the foam department. The aroma starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness, with a nice funky yeast aroma being the first to show; there's a little bit of barnyard-like aspect to it, along with a touch of balsamic vinegar. Finally, raspberry imparts a nice, natural jammy fruitiness.
The taste seems to be similar to the aroma, but it's a little more balanced this time, and it starts off with a slightly higher amount of medium sweetness. While the funky yeast is the first to show up, imparting the same aspects, it's lighter this time, and is followed by the raspberries, which are also a little heavier than they were in the aroma and even more jam-like. Toward the end, you get a medium amount of sourness, with a raspberry and malty aftertaste. This is a good tasting raspberry sour, but I think it could be better if the raspberry was a bit more subdued.
Overall: What I like the most about this 8.0% beer is the drinkability—more drinkable than most sours. What I like the least about this beer is that the raspberry overwhelms the wonderful flavors of the sour base beer. If you're going to spend all that time to barrel-sour your beer, you want the fruits of your efforts to come through a little more.
Otto has been out for a couple of months, so its availability is wider than new releases. Still, I'd hit the brewery for coldest, best-kept bottles of this 7.2% beer. This version of Mobius Trip, however, is very limited, and SaltFire will be your best option for this one. As always, cheers!