This week, we look at two ends of beer's lineage. This first beer we're going to dissect is from Uinta Brewing Co., and it represents the oldest of old-school beers. The second is Kiitos Brewing's Brut IPA, which represents a style so new, most people have no idea what it is and what it's supposed to taste like. Let's begin.
Uinta Nobel Nectar: Go back more than a half century, and you'll find beer was much different; it basically tasted like whatever was picked from a vine or had fallen from a tree. This new beer from Uinta attempts to provide a cursory glimpse into what beer was like way back when. The Ancient Ale pours a slightly hazy, but mostly clear, light- to medium-bright golden color. It pours a nice white head that's about an inch thick when first poured, before settling to a solid two fingers thick with very good retention. Aromas of spicy and peppery yeast, along with some apricot, clove, nutmeg, pear and a hint of pineapple, hit you on a deep whiff. The taste is very similar, with a fairly sweet, malty and somewhat grainy flavor up front giving way to the aforementioned spicy yeast flavors. This is followed by a hint of banana, clove, nutmeg and a touch of peppercorn. Notes of pear and pineapple arise next, shifting to a slight hint of tartness. This is rounded out with a bit more sweetness akin to Belgian candy sugars. There's a slight bitterness in the end that's mostly dulled by the sweetness. The body is smooth and frothy, medium to full-bodied with moderate carbonation and a bit of alcohol heat.
Overall: To me, this is more of a Belgian-style golden strong ale. The addition of spelt and honey adds dimension, but the base sweetness takes it to a familiar place. This is a flawless example of golden strong ale. Be warned: The 8.5 percent ABV will knock you on your butt if you're not careful.
Kiitos Brut IPA: From sweet to bitter, from heavy to light, we've covered the whole IPA spectrum in this column. The newest divergent take on this classic beer is the Brut IPA. Think of an IPA with most of the sugars removed, leaving a very clean, hoppy and semi-bitter ale. This is the new newness, and Kiitos' Brut is the first one from a local brewery. Near crystal-clear and brassy in colorm, the nose is simple and fresh, with citrus peel and waves of lemon and lime, backed up by honeydew melon. The flavor boasts light grain sweetness and a hint of toast. From here, the hops dominate, adding a twang of various zests that carry on to the end. It finishes very dry and spritzy.
Overall: This style (and beer) will have your tongue thinking it's Pilsner or kolsch, except with more pizzazz. The Bruts are crisp and lively on the tongue, and in some respects ghostly absent due to the dryness, so they might require a little on-the-spot brain rewiring to help you get into the groove. The 6.1 percent alcohol is, for the most part, not noticeable, and simply adds to the lingering dryness of the beer.
These beers couldn't be more different, both in genealogy and in taste. They each have their place to fill in your beer rotation, but be aware that they are both in limited production, and won't be around more than a few weeks. Your best bets for finding them are at their respective breweries. As always, cheers!