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Flavor Savers 

Need a palate reboot? These sips just might do it.

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  • Mike Riedel

Shades—Taco Tuesday: Shades has built a business making beers that mimic other foods or dishes. So, when the words "Taco Tuesday" appeared on one of the brewery's labels, some beer nerds cocked their heads to the side in confusion. A beer that tastes like tacos? Yeah, well, sort of. There are some similar spices involved, but for the most part, this beer is all michelada. Micheladas are a Mexican drink made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice and chile peppers. And that's what we have here. Taco Tuesday pours an opaque ruby-orange color with a paper-thin head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is tomato juice for the most part—a bit lighter than it would be straight—and some faint peppery spices. No off tones, so far, everything is on par.

My first swig was big—noticeable spices like celery salt and chile powder stood out, not in a spicy way, but in a way that pulls itself up next to the tomato instead of being hidden by it. Some faint lime notes from the kveik yeast begin to emerge toward the finish. I was expecting something more lemon-forward, but the nice spiciness begins to grow until it develops a firm medium burn after the swallow. The mouthfeel is medium with medium/light carbonation and, though the beer may look thick, it's actually lighter than most milkshake IPAs.

Overall: This was better than I thought it would be. Refreshing. Drinkable. Though I don't know why I underestimated a michelada made by a Brazilian head brewer. Micheladas are my not-so-guilty pleasure, and this one is pretty decent if you don't get hung up on the word "taco."

Bewilder—Four Ryes: I'm not shy about my love of rye beers, so I was really looking forward to trying a rye ale made with rye malt, flaked rye, red (crystal) rye and chocolate rye.

This has a dark copper color with a massive head of foam that was slow to fade. The nose is semi-dank with herbs, citrus and tree resin. The New Zealand hop blend on top of the use of Galaxy hops comes off as being much more earthy and fruity. Smells like it was just freshly brewed today.

Robust flavors of various herbs start us off. It's not spicy, not tropical—more like grasses and plants. A mineral quality that must be one of the rye additions comes in next. A little citrus begins to emerge, but it doesn't interfere with the grains. Some decent graham cracker malt on the back end rounds it all out. Not too bitter, and the bitterness isn't pine resin like most IPAs. It's more of an earthy, organic taste. In my personal opinion, this is just amazing tasting. Drinkable medium body and only moderate carbonation.

Overall: I could have written pages on this 7.0 percent beer. It is right up there with Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye in terms of flavor, but, at the same time, a completely different flavor. Dank, evergreen, earth, organic herb, slightly sweet malt with only medium bitterness—I really enjoyed it. Give it a try the next time you're at Bewilder.

These two beers could not be more different in taste, and they satisfy in completely different ways. Look at Taco Tuesday more like a brunch beer and Four Ryes as an evening pub swigger that could be a nice beer back to a bourbon or peated whiskey. Either way, your tongue is guaranteed to be satisfied. As always, cheers!

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