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Commercial Breaks 

Big breweries can't duplicate these small batch flavors

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MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

RoHa Brewing Project - Barrel Aged Kensington: In case you're not up on local beers, RoHa's Grand Kensington is an Imperial Saison, with bigger than normal alcohol for the style. Head Brewer Chris Haas placed a small amount of this Belgian-inspired beer into local Beehive Distilling's Jack Rabbit Gin barrels to brighten up the beer. The result is Belgian-esque upon the pour, and as the nose is greeted with the spicy floral fragrance of ginger, those Belgian notions really begin to take hold. But as the sprucy tang of juniper and gin float just above a fluffy white cap, what waits patiently below is the soft, malty-sweet taste of pilsner malt, laced with honeysuckle, light bread and powdered sugar.

As the sweetness dissolves on the tongue, an herbal and tea-like presence takes hold of the middle palate, teasing with prickling peppery goodness of the yeast and the tangy berry-like tartness from juniper. Sprucy, sappy and minty, the beer rounds into a refreshing, lightly bitter lemon-lime taste, simultaneously spicy and malty in the finish.

Overall: This 6.8 percent saison is sliced and diced with everything from the yeast spice, the soft wood tannins, the tartness of berries and the pungent evergreen perfume of gin. Where these flavors would be well-suited for a stronger base beer, they prove strangely complementary for the saison. I think gin barrels will soon be the new hot variant in the beer-aging game; the fruity and botanical flavors lend themselves so well to many beer styles.

Kiitos Brewing - West Coast IPA: The beer pours a nice orange-copper color, with a thick finger off-white head. The head sits atop the brew for quite a long time, eventually fading down to give a nice level of lace on the sides of the glass. The aroma is a very pleasant blend of lighter fruits and citrus hops. The fruits are heaviest of a tropical nature, with lots of tangerine and mango, but these are mixed with some lighter apricot and peach aromas as well. The hops outdo the fruit ever so slightly in potency, bringing a nice grapefruit aroma mixed with a light earthy hop smell.

The taste starts out with a bready and more malty flavor, along with some of the fruit that was detected in the nose. The fruit, however is light in potency, consistsing mostly of the apricot and peach with little to none of that tropical mango. Also upfront is a decent presence of grapefruit hops, which grows stronger as the taste advances. While the grapefruit gets stronger the fruity flavors fade some, the bready flavors remain ever-vigilant and constant throughout. Toward the end, other hop flavors of a pine and grassy nature come to the tongue, with a very small amount of a sugary sweetness, leaving an overall grapefruit bitterness but still somewhat smoother flavor to linger on the tongue. The body of this 5.0 percent beer is a bit on the creamier and chewier side, with a carbonation level that is average to just above average. The thicker body works well with the bready and fruit flavors of the brew, and the carbonation keeps the grapefruit from producing too much bitterness on the tongue at the end of the taste.

Overall: A rather tasty IPA with a good dose of grapefruit hop, balanced by a moderate bready and fruity base. Not a bad brew to sit back and enjoy.

Kiitos' West Coast IPA is available in cans at the brewery, and will also be appearing in grocery stores around the Salt Lake City area. Barrel-aged Kensington is a small, very limited batch that is only available in crowlers to-go at the RoHa Brewing Project. As always, cheers!

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