Daily beer project

Desert Edge: completing phase 2

Posted in American Craft Beer, Desert Edge, The Project, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on September 4, 2010

I spent the evening at Desert Edge Brewery to wrap up the last of the Utah-made beers I am yet to try. Or at least those I am committed to trying as part of this project. I gave myself an exemption from seasonals and special releases just because of limited availability. So I’m “finished” with phase 2 at this point, but there are still a lot of seasonals and special releases I’d like to try. In fact, there were two seasonals at Desert Edge (a cream ale and an ESB) that I wanted to try last night but couldn’t. Not to mention, I like cataloging the beers that I’ve tried, so I’ll continue to post. Just not sure if there will be a phase 3 or what it would be.

Happy Valley Hefeweizen: I noticed a lot of pitchers of this being served, which to me suggests that many beer drinkers aren’t very adventurous. Or that a lot of tables were compromising with something everybody would like. Super smooth and easy to drink, with a malt/wheat profile that was creamy and slightly sour and barely any discernible hops. I usually prefer to keep citrus away from my beer, but about halfway through this pint, I squeezed the lemon wedge in and considered it an improvement. This would be a great beer to grab a growler of for a summer barbecue, as I can’t imagine anyone disliking it. Not terribly exciting, but nothing not to like, either. We’ll call it awesome just because I think the brewers did well at making a quality beer of this style, and I’d order it again if I were in the mood for a hefeweizen.

Pub Pils: I’ve grown quite fond of true Pilsner beers of late. I’m not talking about adjunct macrobrews that claim to be Pilsners, but real, golden-colored, well-hopped Pilsners in the vein of Pilsner Urquell. This one really hit the spot. The malt was spot-on. It was hopped just-so. Everything came together in a delicious brew. Definitely an awesome rating for this one. It’s a testament to the quality of our local breweries that both Bohemian and Desert Edge make such excellent Pilsners.

Alt on Cask: One of the things that really impresses me about Desert Edge is the breadth of their seasonal offerings. And indeed, this is one of the reasons that even though phase 2 was “officially” complete with Pub Pils, I’ll keep sampling local seasonals–some of the best beer isn’t available year-round. The only other alt beer I’ve tried was at the beer tasting event that Dave, one of the Desert Edge brewmasters, hosted. The only other cask beer I’ve tried was another Desert Edge offering, English Mild. So it makes sense that the two would come together at this brewery.

Dave mentioned when we tried the Pinkus Munster alt that it was lighter in color than a typical alt. The Desert Edge alt was a deep brown color, a bit darker than a red, but not as dark as a porter. Although I liked the lighter alt a bit better, this one was still excellent with a rich, toasty body and hardly any sourness. It was lightly hopped, and without knowing, I’d guess most of the hopping was in the boil with little if any dry hopping afterward. Overall a very good beer indicative of the breadth of skill of the Desert Edge brew staff.

Summary thoughts on phase 2: I’ve now sampled nearly 100 beers made in the state of Utah. For a state with a population this small, only a fraction of whom actually drink beer, it’s pretty amazing to have this much quality available to us. And we have our quirky liquor laws to thank for it. Without them, it would be easy for restaurants and bars to bring in kegs of Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada, and Rogue. But since nothing over 4% abv can be served on tap, and these out-of-state breweries aren’t interested in making a 4% version of their beers, it’s created a niche that some very capable brewers have stepped in to fill.

With a recent change to the laws allowing “full-strength” beer to be sold (cold even) in bottles directly from the brewery and by restaurants, Epic has stepped in to fill another, even smaller niche by offering bottled beer above 4% abv. The end result of all this is a vibrant market for craft beer that’s on par with Oregon or Colorado or California and exceeds in breadth and quality the craft beer offerings of any other neighboring states.

Critics would be quick to point out “yes, but it’s 4%….” To which I would respond that that’s the same as what you would find in English pubs, and nobody seems to think it’s a problem there. I guess if you’re looking to get drunk and trying to get as much as you can as fast as you can, stronger beer is better. But if you’re interested in sharing a few pints with friends and still being able to walk when you’re done, 4% beer is just fine. The fact that we have so many places offering such good quality beer just makes things that much better.

My objective when I began this project was to come to like beer, any beer, so I could enjoy it socially. My expectation was that I would find one or two that I liked or even tolerated, and that there would be a whole lot of beer I didn’t care for. As I began the project, this was certainly the case. I wasn’t accustomed to the flavors and found much of it overwhelming. BradK predicted I would come to embrace the bitterness, and he was right. I’ve come to appreciate beer and now appreciate virtually every beer style. Which is not to say that I like every beer, but I understand their appeal. I have my favorites, but even then, my preferences have shifted over the last few months. The journey has been remarkable, and both what is available locally as well as what I’ve come to enjoy have exceeded my expectations.


2 Responses

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  1. DC said, on September 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Great Stuff! Congrats on completion of phase two, keep it coming. A trained taste bud should not go to waste.

  2. Blackdog said, on September 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I have come to really enjoy Epic’s beers. My favorite is their Stout. Every time I drive by I seem to pick up a few bottles of 825.

    On the Alcohol thingy. My wife’s Grandfather worked for Stroh’s and also for PBR. He said they both tested higher alcohol beers and no one liked them. He also said that the 6% beer is really about 4% and is no different than our 3.2. As he tells the story the only difference was that they printed up a bunch of 3.2 stickers and stuck them to the boxes before shipping. Things may have changed since he retired 20 years ago but you get the idea.

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