Welcome to Beer Tastings, a series in which Utah Beer News highlights an interesting (and tasty) local brew. This time: Four-for-the-price-of-one! Wasatch Kick-Back Series from Wasatch Brewery. What are you drinking? Let us know!
Beer Tastings: Kick-Back Series
It’s easy to get caught up in the new-brewery buzz. Everyone likes new.
But there’s something to be said for so-called legacy breweries continuing to innovate. That’s how I perceive the Wasatch Kick-Back Series.
In some ways, however, it’s innovation through tradition. An American Lager, a West Coast IPA, and an Oatmeal Stout are all tried-and-true. It’s only the New England-style Double IPA that veers into trendy territory. But that’s just fine.
The Kick-Back Series, brought to you courtesy of 33-year-old Wasatch Brewery, is four — and counting — high-point releases available in 16-ounce cans.
TL;DR: You can’t go wrong with any in the Kick-Back Series.
With so many one-offs and brewers seeking to start trends, it’s cool to see a concerted return to the classics.
Nils Imboden, head brewer at Wasatch in Park City, is the man leading the charge on Kick-Back. He took advantage of a new canning line to brew some high-point winners (for our out-of-state readers, as of now nothing above 4% ABV may be served on draft). I appreciate the thought and care that appeared to go into creating a series of solid, well-balanced beers.
The Wasatch Kick-Back Series are available to drink (and to go) at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City. You’re welcome to enjoy many (if not all) on-site at the West Side Tavern or Squatters in Salt Lake City. Fun Utah Liquor Law Note: In order to sell a beer on premises, it must be brewed on premises (I just learned that).
For an inside look at how the Wasatch Kick-Back Series came to be, check out this informative Kick-Back with Wasatch Brewery article on CraftyBeerGirls.com. It seems a Saison, an India Pale Lager, and a Kellerbier are in the works as well.
American Craft Lager
Designed to “crush on the slopes,” according to Imboden’s Untappd description, this is a malt-forward lager with light floral hops.
It pours a clear, light straw, and features minimal head retention. I pick up aromas of lightly toasted bread and flavors of slightly more substantial dough. A hint of honey-like sweetness and some cracker notes round out this easy-drinking lager.
Part of me is counting the days until lawn-mowing season so I can crack open one — or three — of these on a sunny Saturday afternoon. 4.8% ABV
West Coast IPA
A classic West Coast-style IPA, in my opinion, is a go-to any time of year. Imboden notes on Facebook that it’s “brewed with a hefty dose of rye malts.”
You get a blast of hop aroma. Dank, tropical fruits shine through thanks to plenty of dry hopping.
Substantial dankness in the flavor, courtesy of Mosaic and Simcoe hops (according to CraftyBeerGirls.com). Though it tasted a bit brighter than I expected. A decent dose of finishing bitterness and a touch of spiciness from the rye finishes this one nicely. Plenty of body in this one. 6.5% ABV
I recently went back to an old-favorite — Red Rock’s Oatmeal Stout. It’s a draft (4%) stout, but the nitrogen gives it the rich creaminess that I love in stouts.
That said, without bumping up the alcohol content, it’s tough to create a true full-bodied stout. Wasatch does this with its 6% ABV Oatmeal Stout.
It pours a dark, dark brown, offsetting a light tan, slightly rocky head.
I get quite a bit of chocolate and roasted coffee on the nose and in the taste. It coats the tongue with a little creaminess and proves to be the perfect pick-me-up after a morning of shoveling snow. 6% ABV
New England Double IPA
Gotta give the people what they want! The juicy haze craze continues to push forward. To satisfy the mob (and my tastebuds), Wasatch developed a tasty Double IPA that packs a wallop.
It’s hazy, with an orange juice-like consistency. Aromas of orange, tangerine, and some apricot. Malt is present, which balances the juiciness nicely. A gentle bitterness throughout, but nothing more than you’d expect from the style.
Full mouthfeel, coats the tongue, and dangerously drinkable.
It’s best to drink these fresh, though I’m confident these will have more staying power than the fly-by-night New England-style IPAs that tend to dominate draft boards. 8% ABV
Special thanks to my buddy Mike the Janitor for hooking me up with a Kick-Back Series sampler.