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January might be bland but these beers aren't.

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MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

The new year brings with it some new beers to help brighten up these gray January days. This week, I thought it would be nice to profile some anti-winter warmers—something lighter to help you avoid the bloat while keeping your craft beer cravings intact.

RoHa Brewing Project—Project Porter: It pours an opaque, almost black body, which when held to the light, displays dark plum tinges against the edges of the glass. A one-finger tall, tan-colored bubbly head reduces quickly to a patchy film, leaving thin streaks of modest lacing. Dark roasted malts and lightly roasted coffee beans lead the relatively subtle nose. A small amount of woody hops becomes more noticeable in the background as the beer warms. Similar to the aroma, dry, dark malts lead the taste up front, while touches of slightly sweeter toasted grain and vague dark fruits follow shortly after. Toward the middle, lightly roasted coffee enters, along with mildly bitter, herbal, earthy and woody hops that last through to the finish. In the mouth, it offers a light to medium body, and the excellent carbonation gives an enjoyably slick and smooth feel, drying out just a little toward the end as dark roasted malts linger on the palate.

Overall: This is a straightforward beer, nicely balanced, easy-drinking and reasonably priced. Its mild flavor profile and general essence make it an excellent accompaniment to sushi, barbeque or pancakes. There's plenty of flavor to keep you picking it up for the next sip, but the lighter 5% ABV is what makes this a great substitute for a big bold stout if you are eating or drinking with friends.

Kiitos Brewing—West Coast IPA: This ale pours a mostly clear golden hue with a solid two-and-a-half fingers of puffy white foam that sticks around for quite a few minutes until it begins its reluctant descent. When thinking "session IPA," this is the kind of aroma I always hope for: floral, mosaic-driven hops, with just a touch of malt to balance it. It's not a big nose, but also offers nothing that would lead you to believe this brew might become too sweet, as a lot of session IPA beers tend to do. Following the nose, there are lots of floral aspects, with a touch of pine and a good amount of malt in the mouth. Tropical fruit notes are at a minimum, with citrus peel and pith taking on most of the flavor duties. Piney hops come through in the finish, as the beer warms up a bit. It reminds me of IPAs from a decade ago. The best part of the beer in my opinion: slick, juicy moderate mouthfeel, with a touch of carbonation. The flavors all remain intact, and it does become a bit sweeter, but definitely not cloying. It's exceptionally clean and not drying.

Overall: If you like citrus and floral-driven IPAs, then you'll like this beer. Considering the 5% ABV, and the fact this is a session IPA, it does a damn good job and keeps the typical unbalanced sweetness at bay. This won't change the world, but it might make yours slightly better.

The Kiitos West Coast IPA is only available on draft at the brewery (608 W. 700 South). If you need it to-go, growler fills will be your best option. RoHa's Project Porter is currently on draft and in cans at RoHa (30 E. Kensington Ave.); look for this to start appearing in grocery and convenience stores any day now. As always, cheers!

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