Salt Lake Brewing European Vacation and Kiitos Strawberry Blonde | Drink | Salt Lake City Weekly

Salt Lake Brewing European Vacation and Kiitos Strawberry Blonde 

Seasonal fruit and old-world style define two new beers.

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  • Mike Riedel

Salt Lake Brewing - European Vacation: Head Brewer Jason Stock's recent trip to the Czech Republic was the inspiration for this new lager. Working his way throughout all of the classic Czech offerings, Stock brought his research home. Now we can all benefit from his experience in the home of lagers.

European Vacation is a brilliantly clear, pale straw color, topped with a generous foamy white head that reaches a couple of fingers in depth. The nose is punchier than I expected, primarily grainy and a little grassy. Hops are distinct and seem prominent; they smell mostly floral, and give it strong earthy characteristics.

The flavor's very consistent with the nose and the style—earthy, grassy and a little grainy. Hops do their job nicely, adding a little bitterness and quite a bit of earthy character. Pale malts give it a nice base and a good deal of balance, though it remains a little buzzy and bitter. The hops seem to take on a spicy character toward the end, and I like that aspect. It's effective and really brings it in line with the style nicely. There's no hint of the 5.0 percent alcohol here; while it finishes a little bitter and spicy, it certainly has a crisp finish, which I like in pilsners. This is an easy-drinking beer with a pretty good flavor. I could handle a couple of these.

Verdict: European Vacation is a pretty decent beer from SL Brewing (formerly Squatters). It's a more than decent Czech pilsner that doesn't deviate from the usual bells and whistles of the style. Obviously, I had pretty high expectations due to Stock's story and photos, and this is definitely worth checking out if you run across it.

Kiitos - Strawberry Blonde: It's the time of year when fruit beers reign supreme. This can be good and bad—you either get fruit bombs, or nothing at all. This ale provides a subtler approach. It pours a crystal-clear golden color with a billowy white head that fades quite fast to leave just a little bit of foamy lace on the sides of the glass. The aroma is subtle with strawberry and some lighter notes of wheat and grain. The strawberry is actually very authentic and pleasant, and along with some other aromas of a light bread that accompany the malt and grain, the overall aroma is very sweet and inviting—sorta like Franken Berry cereal.

The taste begins with a rather crisp cereal taste that is mixed with a good showing of a strawberry. It almost tastes like one of those thin bread crackers spread with a bit of strawberry jam on top of it. As the taste moves forward, some of the strawberry seems to fade a bit, all while some light flavors of Strawberry Quik come to the tongue. With all the transitions that occur, one is left with the basic tastes of Franken Berry lingering. (I want to be clear: No actual breakfast cereals were used to make this beer.)

The body of the beer is very light, with a carbonation level that is a bit on the medium side. A slightly thicker body and a higher carbonation would have likely killed the lighter strawberry all together.

Verdict: While the flavor profile was actually fairly nice for a strawberry brew, it was fairly light in taste and feel. A little more robustness would have brought the beer to higher levels. This 5.0 percent ale would make for a decent session-style fruit beer, for when you're in the mood for one.

If you want to take home Strawberry Blonde, bring your growler, because this one is only on draft at Kiitos. The growler treatment is in effect at SL Brewing as well for European Vacation. As always, cheers!

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About The Author

Mike Riedel

Mike Riedel

Local boy and pilot of City Weekly’s best gig, The Beer Nerd column since 2017. Current photojournalist at KSTU TV (Fox 13) and host of the Utah Beer Blog and Beer Nerd Radio on KUAA 99.9 FM radio.

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