Lager Brothers | Drink | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Lager Brothers 

They may have the same mom, but these beers grew up worlds apart.

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  • Mike Riedel

Much of what we think of as Mexican lagers actually comes from the German immigrants who settled in Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The styles only began to diverge when Mexican agriculture began to mix with the traditional brews. This week, we have two excellent examples of grain-forward lagers: one from the old world, and one from the new. This might be one of your best assignments yet.

TF Brewing - Oktoberfest Marzen: The beer pours a hazy clear amber color into my one-liter stein. The head has great retention, fading slowly over time to leave some streaky lace on the sides of the glass. Biscuity malts, toasted grains and nuts appear on the nose, along with a pronounced caramelized sugar and honey sweetness. It's mildly fruity too, with suggestions of pear, and mild hints of floral hops. Nothing too exciting for a hop-head, but more than appropriate for the style. What emerges is properly-constructed marzen for sure, with a clean malt bill augmented by restrained noble hop presence.

The initial flavor consists of toasted grains, caramel and some bready, biscuity malts, with a slight nutty character. Orchard fruit esters remain noticeable, but are subtle in magnitude when compared to what you get in the nose. Some grassy, floral hop bitterness causes the profile to take an earthy turn at the finish; the aftertaste is a little nutty, with some quickly-fading caramel sweetness leaving the mouth off-dry. There's a nice weight in the mouth—medium-bodied, with middling carbonation levels that feel lively on the palate, refreshing and a pleasure to drink at 5.0 percent. The body of the beer is on the creamier side, with a carbonation level that is just below average. The creamy body is rather nice for the mix of sweeter and malty taste, with just enough carbonation to keep it on the easy drinking side.

Overall: A quite nice and tasty Oktoberfest with a great blend of sweet, malty, roast and some spice. If you really want the true taste of an Oktobefest lager, look no further.

Saltfire - Los Braceros: Pours a relatively clear pale golden yellow in color, with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising quickly from the bottom of the glass, and faint bright yellow highlights. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed. Aroma-wise, there are moderate scents of cracker and grainy malts with a light amount of cereal sweetness, along with light aromas of grassy hops and slightly heavier aromas of citrus zest.

The first swig brings moderate flavors of cracker and toasted bread, plus a light amount of sweet corn flakes—very subtle and familiar. That is followed by slightly heavier flavors of citrus peel and spicy noble hops. Finally, there are light flavors of grassy hops which contribute a light amount of bitterness which fades away after a relatively short time, leaving a clean and agreeable finish. This 5.5 percent lager is light-to-medium-bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly crisp upfront with a pleasing dryness in the finish.

Overall: This is easy to drink, with well-hidden alcohol and just enough crispness to make it refreshing, enjoyable with lime or without. Definitely have it without any citrus on your first sip, so you can get the full experience of what head brewer Mike Dymowski intended.

TF's Marzen is only on draft, and this being Oktoberfest season, it's flowing like water at the SLC brewery. Get over there ASAP. Los Braceros is in 16-ounce cans and is as quenching in the fall as it would be in summer; best source for this is at Saltfire Brewing. As always, cheers!

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