Uinta Violet Fire and Saltfire/Ogden Beer Sweater Weather | Drink | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Uinta Violet Fire and Saltfire/Ogden Beer Sweater Weather

When cold lagers meet cool temperatures


  • Mike Riedel

Beer nerds are enjoying a new type of lager that takes some of the best parts of Pilsners and marries them with taste-popping hops associated with IPAs. The problem is that breweries don't have an official name for these new hopped-up lagers. You're likely to come across names like India Pale Lager (IPL), Cold IPA, West Coast Lager, Brut IPA, New Style Lager, American Hoppy Lager, etc. They're all basically made the same damn way; I'm just hoping for a little agreement on the terminology soon. Regardless, we have two very new examples of hoppy-lager beers out right now that are quite interesting.

Uinta - Violet Fire: This "New Style Lager" is described as "a reimagining of what a lager can be." It showcases a balance between the clean crispness of a true American lager and the aromatic hop bouquet of a modern IPA. This beer is dosed with El Dorado, Sabro and Sultana hops.

It pours a mostly-clear, unfiltered pale yellow color, with moderate amounts of fine active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and a moderate amount of pale golden-yellow highlights. Moderate to strong aromas of juicy tropical/pineapple, honeydew melon, tangerine and coconut predominate, along with some piney hops.

Up front, there are light to moderate flavors of toasty biscuit, followed by moderate to strong flavors of juicy pineapple, honeydew melon and strawberry. Some citrus/tangerine slides in next, along with some herbal and grassy notes to balance out the tropical hops. The end rolls in with coconut flavors, believe it or not, which impart a light amount of bitterness that fades away quickly, leaving moderate lingering herbal snap. It's just shy of medium-bodied, with moderate amounts of carbonation and a light amount of dryness in the finish.

Verdict: Easy to drink, with well-hidden 5.0 percent alcohol and a pleasantly crisp mouthfeel. The nice tropical fruit salad of flavors makes for an enjoyable experience, and it demonstrates a nice use of Sabro—specifically, solid coconut presence without the suntan-lotion aspects.

Saltfire/Ogden Beer - Sweater Weather: This "cold IPA" lager is a collaboration between SaltIfire brewing and Ogden Beer Co. It features Idaho 7, Idaho Gem and Strata hops. It pours a golden-orange unfiltered color that is slightly hazed; the frothy head is sturdy with long life. A fresh hoppy and juicy punch begins teasing the nose with citrus, stone fruit, tropical fruit and melon on the first pass of the aroma. Hints of grassy herbs linger in the background.

The taste begins with a light honey and caramel sweetness, a mild cereal tone and a general sense of toasted pastry crust. With the malt influence fading and the hops building on the middle palate, a bold citrus flavor circulates around the radiance of mandarin oranges and a hint of red grapefruit. As flavors of strawberry, apricot, cantaloupe and peach bring about a mix of tropical and orchard fruit, they seem to have a slight candied character about them. Trending moderately bitter, a peppery hop bite proves sharper than typical, and carries a hint of curaçao liqueur. Medium bodied and malty-dry, this version of a cold IPA is a little brighter and more exuberant than in the aroma, but less creamy and smooth in the finish, allowing for a crisper, cleaner hop bite in a medium-long aftertaste of citrus peel and spruce bitterness.

Verdict: An excellent 6.5 percent cold IPA. I've become fonder of them due to the rise in popularity of hazy and juicy IPAs, and this one is a very good example. If not for the gentle warmth on the palate, you'd never know it was a lager.

You can find Sweater Weather at both Saltfire and Ogden Beer Co. in 16-ounce cans. Violet Fire is getting a wide distribution throughout Uinta's footprint, and will be available in cans and on-tap everywhere. As always, cheers!