Thursday, June 03, 2010

Grand Teton's Dueling Tastes of Summer
Most breweries that delve into regular seasonals can be relied on to produce a summer ale that is lighter bodied, maybe splashed with a hint of citrus. And if they dare to come out with a second hot-weather beer, it's usually something in the wheat family.

And then there's Grand Teton Brewing Co., the Victor, Idaho-based rising star that's decided summer is appropriate for two very different tastes. One is the lighter, sweeter taste of a white beer ... albeit, a Belgian double white. And one, of course, is a double IPA, since nothing says "beat the heat" quite like a hop-gutsy 8 percent ABV concoction.

The big boy, released April 1 and available through September, is the Lost Continent Double IPA, a 2009 debut that is back by popular demand. Only this year's version is a little different, with a half pound of "dry hops" added to the three pounds of hops per barrel in kettle and a revised fermentation program aimed at producing a more traditional double IPA flavor.

What comes from those changes is a medium body with a big, bold taste, one that lets you feel citrus zest and chewy flower root in every sip without the stickiness that sometimes is present in this style. And while Lost Continent may be lacking some of the bitterness of other double IPAs - a positive attribute for the new version - it does fall into that classical taste now, something golden enough to be drunk all year long and bold enough to be noticed.

The Tail Waggin' Double White Ale, the summer release in Grand Teton's cellar reserve series, is an animal of a different nature, however. This one provides a little more bark than bite, and the opinions of the Fearless Tasting Crew were decidedly mixed during a tasting at a Memorial Day get-together.

This new creation adds zing by mixing lemongrass flavors in with the traditional orange peel and coriander overtones, leaving your taste buds scrambling a little more to try to figure out what it rolling over them. It is light-bodied with a late-breaking sweet backtaste, leaving it decidedly refreshing in the warm weather without ever being confused with the beer your grandparents drank in the summer.

But the hints of lemongrass and orange peel remain just hints of taste in this one, far enough off that you can imagine what just a little more of either could have done to lift the flavor profile of this beer. In the end, Tail Waggin' is a decent beer, but not the kind of mind-blowing flavor bomb that past Cellar Reserve series entrants such as the Pursuit of Hoppiness American Red Ale and Sheep Eater Scotch Ale have been.


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