Summer Beer Review


New Brews to Keep Your Summer Tasty

The mountains are green, the air is hot, and your beer better be cold. Summer is in full swing in Utah and our state’s breweries are churning out seasonal brews that are light and refreshing. Perhaps you’re tailgating at a trailhead after a long mountain bike ride. Maybe you find yourself in a hammock swinging between pine trunks as the breeze gently pushes clouds overhead. Or it’s possible that your inner Irish demands a breakfast beer at sunrise. Whatever your summer activity is at any given time, there is a summer seasonal ripe for the occasion.

Below is a sampling of summer beers from various Utah breweries. In 2018 we have new releases from old favorites like Squatters, Moab, Roosters and Uinta. Plus new breweries have come online this year including Kiitos and SaltFire. I had the difficult task of sampling them all while spending time outdoors. This burden I placed upon myself to better your summer quaffing enjoyment. You can thank me later.

Summer Suggestions from Utah’s Classic Breweries

 Moab Pilsner

Moab’s excellent pilsner is not new, in fact it’s been around for years at the brewery. But this summer, for the first time, you can now purchase it in cans at your local grocery store. Back in the day it was called “Porcupine Pilsner,” and this was one of my go-to brews for post-biking celebratory drinks at the brew pub. But the pilsner of old has undergone a label change and is now just Moab Pilsner.

The tall, yellow can reflects a light and crisp pilsner contained within. Like all good examples of the style, this pilsner is light-bodied, fragrant, and goes down easy. Moab Brewery says they use lightly-kilned malted barley and traditional noble hops like Tettnager and Saaz to give it a slight kick of spice.

Mountain biking is just about everything to Moab, so it only makes sense to pair this one with adventures in the saddle. While I’m an IPA guy, I purposefully pack a refreshing beer for hot summer après at the trailhead, and Moab Pilsner has been a frequent occupant of my cooler.

Roosters Pilot Brews Double IPA

 Roosters Brewing Company in Ogden is stepping up their game these days. This past December they broke ground on the new B Street Brewery. This facility will allow for a massive expansion and *gasp* a canning line. According to their website, Roosters B Street Brewery will “increase current brewing capacity ten-fold.”

Here in the present, however, Roosters recently released the first of their Pilot Brews.  This summer, that includes Blackberry Cream Ale, Amber Ale, and a Double IPA. Of course I clapped my hands like a toddler about to get a popcicle when I saw that Roosters FINALLY bottled a double IPA, my favorite style of beer. So after work I drove up to the Roosters Layton location and grabbed one from the cold case (which is the only place you can buy one to take home).

The special trip to Layton was worth it because the Pilot Brews Double IPA is delicious. Think a classic IPA flavor with a strong malt backbone and a heady amount of grassy and piney hops. It’s really freaking good. In fact, I’d even say this is now my favorite Roosters beer ever made. But you’ll have to hurry to get yours because this beer is a limited release and is only available at both Roosters locations in Ogden and Layton. Keep checking in with Roosters for future Pilot Brews concoctions.

The only bummer? Like all Roosters beers the Pilot Brews come in 500ml bottles. While that container size is not ideal for outdoor recreation, I did find it perfect for sharing while grilling on the back deck.

Squatters Tropical Hop Rising Double IPA

According to the Utah DABC, Squatters Hop Rising is the best-selling, local full-strength beer. So I never thought Squatters would ever change, or could improve upon, their ubiquitous double IPA. But damn they did. Tropical Hop Rising is, in my opinion, a vast improvement that does away with the malt bomb of old that makes you feel like you’re drinking a meal.

This new version is a more modern take on a double IPA that trades the pine flavors for tropical fruits and citrus. This beer smells and tastes downright delicious. The most impressive part is that unlike many “flavored IPAs” Squatters did not use fruit adjuncts to make the tropical flavors. Instead they found a combination of hops that impart the tropical tastes of citrus, mango and passion fruit. For summer drinking a double IPA, it doesn’t get much more appropriate than this.

At a burly ABV of 9% though, this summer drinker is one to save for last. I’ve been cracking open a can of it while chilling by the campfire before bedtime. That alcohol percentage helps chase away the evening’s chill while the tropical tang keeps my head in a warmer state of mind.

Moab FMU Double IPA

 While not a summer seasonal, Moab’s foray into the world of double IPAs is long wanted and long awaited. Well they delivered last fall with FMU. This beast of a beer is loaded with four pounds of Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial and Cascade hops per barrel. The result is a pine and citrus-flavored hop bomb. And at 9.6% ABV, drinking just one of these tall-boy cans will have your head floating as high as the astronaut depicted on the label.

Along with the prodigious amount of hops, FMU is also heavy on the malts. The result is a thicker double IPA that punches you in the kisser from both sides of the brew spectrum. FMU is best reserved for chilly summer evenings. And since it’s only available in a big can, it’s also best for sharing with a buddy.

Summer Selections from Utah’s Newest Breweries

Kiitos Rye Pale Ale

 It’s a wonderful time to be a craft-beer enthusiast in Utah because it seems a new brewery opens every few months. The first new operation in 2018 to fill their fermenters is Kiitos Brewing in Salt Lake City. Kiitos means “thank you” in Finnish, and we have a lot to be thankful for with this addition to Utah’s beer scene.

Kiitos started brewing a lot of different styles right off the bat, including summer favorites like a blonde ale and an excellent Northeast IPA. But the beer that most recently blew my socks off is their Rye Pale Ale.

All I can say is WOW! There is no other beer like this one in the Utah scene, so I’m thrilled. I love rye flavors in my beer. The (sadly) defunct Ruthless Rye IPA from Sierra Nevada was one of my favorite beers of all time. But I don’t recall a Utah brewery ever making a rye ale… until now. And boy did Kiitos knock it out of the park. This is a pale ale, but it’s very rye forward. The only thing that would make it better is if it were a full strength beer. As a low-point beer, it lacks body. But the flavorful punch of rye more than makes up for it. I hope there’s still some left in the cold case at Kiitos headquarters because I’m going to stock up on this one so it’ll last me all summer.

Here’s another reason to love Kiitos: they use a HEBS (High Efficiency Brewing System) which uses 40% less water and 20% less grain overall. A toast to conserving resources!

Salt Flats Hefeweizen

Salt Flats Brewing is not exactly new this year, in fact they started up in 2016 at the Garage Grill in Draper. Back then they were a nano brewery called RPM Brewing. But in 2018 they started canning in a large production facility in Salt Lake City and changed the name to Salt Flats. Their MO is brewing beers that are light and drinkable; session beers for the everyman. Well that sounds like just what summer ordered.

So on a desert camping trip I brought along their hefeweizen. Based on the amateurish-looking labels, I wasn’t expecting much. But you know what they say about judging a book (or beer) by its cover. Turns out Salt Flats makes damn good beer. This is a solid and refreshing hefeweisen that totally skews Belgian. There is a strong flavor of Belgian style yeast that is very dominant. Cloves and banana esters round out the profile while still retaining the usual hefeweizen flavor. While a bit bready, the beer is also crisper than some hefeweizens I’ve had before, which imparts a refreshing mouthfeel. The flavor is clean with a mellow aftertaste. At 4% ABV, Salt Flats Hefeweisen is a smart choice to take camping, rafting, or for post-just-about- anything you find yourself doing this summer.

SaltFire Dirty Chai Stout

The latest brewery to come online in Utah is SaltFire Brewing in South Salt Lake. They opened their doors in late May with a selection of IPAs, a kolsch, and a head-turning Dirty Chai Stout. I know, I know, stouts are not dressed properly for summer beer season. But what about those late-night study sessions, or rainy Sunday mornings? Then a breakfast beer is certainly appropriate.

Well, SaltFire makes an ideal brew for those bleak summer mornings that feel more like Ireland than Utah with their Dirty Chai Stout. It’s a coffee stout spiced up with Chai spices like ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, green cardamom, nutmeg and clove. The coffee is sourced from Blue Copper Coffee here in Salt Lake City. Dirty Chai Lattes are my favorite fancy coffee drink, but I feared it would be too much on the palate as a stout flavor. But I was wrong to underestimate SaltFire’s brewing prowess. The Chai spice is subtle. The roasted coffee flavor dominates. This is one stout that is smooth and goes down easy. The beer tasted so appropriate to have with my morning toast that I even poured it into a mug… that or so my wife would think I was drinking cold coffee. So far SaltFire is impressing me with their initial offerings and I look forward to what else they concoct this summer.

Leave a Reply