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Hop Heaven 

If there is a god, she's going to love these hoppy beers

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MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

Red Rock - Fukiphno: This beer started as an April Fool's Day joke, but has evolved into its own bona fide 9.0 percent double IPA. Label art is an original watercolor by the multi-talented Chris Harlin, who is Red Rock's longtime downtown brewer.

It pours a foamy, frothy head of a cream-white color, over a medium hazy honey-amber tone with light, fine sediment and limited carbonation. Retention is very good, and lacing is light and spotty. The hop varieties generate forward notes of mild citrus and tropical fruit, moderate grass, some peppery spiciness and delicate herbal characteristics atop a lightly malted body of pale, mild biscuit malts. Potency is moderate.

The hop profile creates a big flavor and modest bitterness, with significant tropical and summer fruit character, lemongrass and herbal tea. Bitterness is light, and the malt profile is fairly transparent, with a simple pale malt base and a touch of crystal malt for body. The texture is silky, moderately slick, clean and medium dry. Carbonation is mild, generating a light frothiness and a lightly crisp finish, while the body is shy of medium for the style, medium overall. Balance is very slightly bitter over sweet; alcohol presence is light, and there are no off characters.

Verdict: The hops generate a wide range of fruit flavor along with a grassy, herbal backbone, but not much bitterness to craft a balanced IPA. It works for this beer in particular, though, as the malt profile is simple and not too sweet, but in a more assertively-bodied IPA, it may need to be paired with a stronger bittering hop. I really enjoyed the potential that this hop blend creates, and look forward to seeing it debut as a promising double IPA candidate.

Offset Bier - NZ Pale Ale: For this batch, the brewers diverted wort from Offset's Riwaka Pale Ale into one of their small experimental fermenters, and dry-hopped it with a new combo of Nectaron and Nelson at a slightly higher dry hopping rate.

It's your typical-looking hop-forward pale ale, light enough to be potentially mistaken for a saison, with a nice whitish head. I don't know if that is supposed to look good, or if I have been trained that when I see that characteristic, it is associated with a hazed-up hoppy beer. Either way, it looks great. The aroma is of white wine grapes, citrus peel and tropical fruits that starts off very sweet but explodes with a rye-like spiciness and doughy malt. It really offsets the sweetness, but it's still hard to say that it's balanced.

The flavors are good; the spice is no surprise this time as it leaps out of the glass, earthy and malty with some tropical passionfruit, citrus rind, mineral water and a doughiness that lingers with hardly any bitterness. The mouthfeel is nice, smooth, coating, with lively carbonation that is soft and gentle with, medium body and a smooth, lightly dry finish.

Verdict: A nice pale ale from Offset Bier, and a very interesting hop flavor. It reminds me a lot of Nelson, but heavier on the spice while still being tropical and fruity. The way hop science is progressing, I don't know if you will ever find a fresh hoppy beer that won't taste brilliant every damn time. This is one of those pale ales I would slam every time I see it; at the very least, I'd never turn one down. Definitely a great expression of hops.

Occasionally, Offset Bier will send some beer to Salt Lake City pubs; so far, I've seen Offset offerings at The Bayou, Beerhive and Scion Cider Bar. This one, however, you will not find in SLC. It's a very small batch that will only be available at Offset's Park City brewery. In the coming weeks, you'll see Fukiphno at DABS (formerly DABC) stores, but for now you can find it at all Red Rock locations (to-go at the beer store, 443 N. 400 West). As always, cheers!

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