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The Feather and the Stone 

One IPA has a wallop, the other a pat on the head

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MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

Red Rock - Hop Runner: Let's start light and work our way into a stupor, shall we? This beer entwines golden and orange hues, their highlights spilling out and diffusing across the table. Though of only modest foaminess, the lacing expands like a marching army, conquering all corners of the glass. This aroma here does not disappoint; its bouquet is enveloped in citrus pith and dripping with bitter resins. There's an air of tropical fruit, but also a little bit of dankness, like a forest after a heavy rain.

That leafy flavor develops further on the palate, especially as the mandarin and grapefruit notes fade and that earthy, herbal aftertaste sets in. It's not particularly intense by IPA standards, but will likely please most mainstream drinkers. Welcome to the jungle, baby. This is what the session style is all about.

To that end, one won't taste any alcohol but, considering this is 5.0 percent and drinks arguably much easier than it should at that strength, maybe watch for it later. Those who don't mind a few IBUs will probably want to session this; I thought there was a hole in my glass, the liquid emptied out of it so fast.

Overall: Let's be honest: It's not like there's any shortage of IPAs in Utah. Hell, one doesn't even have to leave Salt Lake City to find many of the region's best. The regional standard is high, so to earn and maintain a reputation like Red Rock has earned really says something.

2 Row King Zeangland: Pours a dark orange copper, almost red in color, with about two fingers of snow-white foam featuring good head retention and lacing down the glass. It's translucent, but I think that is more due to the color; there isn't any floating sediment, and this beer is anything but hazy/juicy.

Initial notes of pine practically jump out of the can, followed by grapefruit and orange rinds. Notes of apricot, tangerine and maybe a hint of mango are also present. Prevailing sweetness is present from the middle to the back, with caramel and toffee malts. Even some grassy earthy notes become more noticeable as the beer warms, complimented by flowery esters

I let the beer warm up for 10-15 minutes before even taking a first sip, and I'm thankful that I did; I would highly recommend it if you're looking for the full effect, because all the subtleties are lost when the beer is too cold. Bitter hops appear on the front end, with pine, grapefruit and orange rind that add to the prevailing sweetness. Caramel and toffee notes that are present in the nose are also enjoyable on the tongue. Minimal carbonation enhances the smooth mouth feel, along with the malt profile and flavors, and there's a thick, and almost chewy consistency. About half-way through, the beer becomes much boozier. Alcohol warmth becomes more pronounced, almost hard to drink, but in a sense the beer is better when you have to suffer through the final sips.

Overall: Wow, this beer is a lot. But I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing it and trying to discern all that's going on in this beer. I'm glad I tried it, and glad I have more in the fridge, but I don't know if I would buy more. It would appear that I'm a petite flower, and the big guns at 2 Row have made a 13-percent ABV triple IPA that packs a huge wallop, one that's not for the meek—er, meek-ish.

Luckily, the package sizes with these two help with the drinkability factor. While Hop Runner (exclusive to Harmons Grocery stores) comes in an appropriate 16-oz. can, 2 Row's King Zeangland also comes in an equally appropriate 12-oz. bottle. As always, cheers!

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