Darkly Suggestive | Drink | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Darkly Suggestive 

Two beers that evoke the differences in dark flavors

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  • Mike Riedel
Saltfire - Anthropophagy: If there's one local brewery that exudes counter-culture rock and roll, it's Saltfire. With beers that claim names like Punk as Fuck and Frankly Mr. Shankly, you get a clear vibe that this brewhouse is fond of its music. Building on their ever-evolving rock themes, Saltfire has teamed up with the Utah-based prog rock band Aura Surreal to promote their new album Anthropophagy. This Baltic porter was served in Saltfire's house glassware, pouring a nice cola black. Carbonation is good and bubbly, with an aggressive pour. Medium-sized bubbles develop a loose, frothy caramel-colored head, with a relatively moderate to low retention and moderate dissipation which settles into a thin ring of lace and faint surface carbonation. The nose is full of dark fruits—dates and plums, with hints of sweet nuts like almond and cashew. There's even a touch of vanilla, plus caramelized brown sugar and mellow roasted coffee.

The flavor starts very fruity and sweet, then mellows into molasses and dark cacao flavor, with those dark fruits staying present. A nice coffee bitterness follows that doesn't come near espresso strength, and plenty of nicely-roasted malts finishing in an almost sweetened bitter anise/fennel/licorice. Bitter but not earthy, and moderate- to heavy-bodied, the settled-out carbonation lets it swirl smoothly across the palate with a creamy and light coffee texture. You get just a pang of 9.6 percent alcohol vapor at the very end, and it finishes off pretty cleanly, with memories of the coffee floating away.

Overall: A wonderful fruity porter that is well balanced between its roasted malts and rich bitter and creaminess; I would easily add this as an enjoyable porter anytime. It's probably best as an after-dinner digestif; as fruity as it is, it would complement almost all fruit tarts or pies. The sweet-and-bitter combo would also play very well with something richer, like a molten brownie or red velvet cake.

Red Rock - Blackberry Sorta Sour: Pours a clear ruby-red body with one finger of creamy, thick, reddish-white head that emulates the blackberry quite well. Scents of sour, yogurt-like lactic acid, blackberry and wheat malt mingle with sourdough and lightly-tart apple, much like their classic Berliner with a pleasant aroma of blackberries added. A wonderfully refreshing aroma.

The flavor begins tart with that lovely, clean yogurt-like character, with moderate flavors of tart blackberries and some light grainy wheat malt. Mid-palate finds an increase in tart blackberry flavors, while sustaining a lively lactic acid sourness and some bready and grainy wheat at light levels. The finish is dry, with a bright tart blackberry flavor mingling with high levels of clean lactic sourness and a tinge of sourdough bread. Aftertaste is tart—clean lactic acid and berries with a grainy, bready wheat malt end over time. It's a near perfect Berliner Weisse, as their classic is, mingled with the lovely bright fruitiness of blackberries to create a wonderfully refreshing take on the style. Mouthfeel is light-bodied with high, effervescent carbonation and a tart, puckering, acidic feel.

Overall: This is a fantastic light sour at an approachable 5.0 percent ABV. An interesting iteration of their base version of the style finds the blackberry-led dark fruitiness adding a certain complexity to the whole deal—weirdly refreshing and challenging by the same measure.

Blackberry Sorta Sour is in full production mode, and can be found at all Red Rock locations and is also available in 16-ounce bottles at Harmons grocery stores. While Anthropophagy doesn't have the quantity of the Blackberry Sour, there is plenty to last a few weeks. I wouldn't wait too long, though. As always, cheers.

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