The Kind of Beer That Makes You Say “Wow!”

The other day, Sunday to be exact, I enjoyed a most entertaining time being interviewed on The Brewing Network. During our chat — at least I think it was during that particular chat; I haven’t listened to the mp3 yet — I commented on what separates a good, solid, mid-range beer from an exceptional, that’s really frickin’ good beer. It is, to paraphrase myself, the “Wow!” factor.

I have in my fridge and cellar a number of beers from Squatters of Salt Lake City, Utah, that I am sampling my way through in preparation for a forthcoming book, The World Atlas of Beer, which I am co-authoring with Tim Webb. Tonight, I opened one of those beers, a tart ale aged 529 days in oak with pediococcus, lactobacillis and “wild yeast,” presumably Brettanomyces, then blended with younger, hoppeed beer and bottle-fermented wwith Champagne yeast. It’s called 529.


On the nose, this beauty shows candied orange and lemon peel, vanilla, tart raspberries and oaky woodiness. The start is a bit sweet and berry-ish, but moves quickly to a tart and very oak-accented body — one in which the oak works very well, I might add — with notes of lemon and vanilla, cherry pit and mild nutty hop. Funky spice and a dry, moderately tart and lemony finish complete the picture.

Overall, this ale has great complexity, great balance and great flavour progression. Again, wow!

One Reply to “The Kind of Beer That Makes You Say “Wow!””

  1. Stephen,

    I really enjoyed the interview on the BN. I hope you do find yourself in CA to review their beers in the studio – would definitely be a fun listen.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *