Uinta Anniversary Barley Wine Ale – 10.4%
Oh boy, back to the barley wines. I mentioned before that I had been on a barley wine kick for a short spell, and of course I would want to share my findings with you. So here we are, savoring yet another high-octane brew with plenty of flavor (and alcohol for that matter, this one is almost ten and a half percent). So what sets this one apart? Let’s take a look.
I had the chance to enjoy and partake in a certain Meet the Brewery night at Iron Monkey where Uinta was the guest brewer of honor. For those of you struggling to pronounce the name, it is you-in-tah. I wrestled with this one myself until I stumbled upon the right way to pronounce this online. I remember hearing many people say the name with that uneasy, uncertain tone as if they were fighting for the right sounds yet grasping at straws. The name Uinta comes from the only east-west mountain range in the US. This range is located in northeastern Utah, not far from Salt Lake City, where the brewery is located. The brewery itself is a renovated old mechanic’s garage located in the town proper. Many of the beers in the Uinta family are named after Utah’s landscapes or areas of historical significance. Fittingly, much of the bottle artwork and design is from local artists, depicting local scenery and landmarks. They also utilize as much “green” technology as possible. Their brewery is wind-powered. The environmentalists have something to drink about.
Anyway, back to the beer. These guys have been celebrating brewing strong beers for much of their history. Their Crooked Line of beers has brought to us such wonderful selections as the Cockeyed Cooper (ask Irving about that one, he loves it) which all pack a 9-13% punch when it comes to ABV. We have liftoff. The intent of these is that they are to be shared with other people and/or paired with foods, like a bottle of wine would, so as to really bring out the flavor of the beers and maximize their potential. This particular number is from their Classic Line and was good for me to enjoy on my own, even if it’s strong enough for two. I picked up a six pack of these from Buy-Rite and decided to explore uncharted waters.
When pouring this into my tulip glass (although I’d love to have had a snifter) a nice thick and foamy beige head formed above a reddish-brown body as the brew came to fill the glass. The head was quite nice and gave off a pleasantly inviting aroma of dark fruit – plum, raisin, dark cherry maybe –with a subtle grapefruit tinge to it. Fair enough, I thought to myself. Time for a drink.
Right off the bat, malty goodness is the order of the day. The flavors that come to mind are dried fruit, caramel and toffee, but let’s not forget to cite the bready appeal that the malt backbone gives it. There is a fairly significant hop presence in the finish (72 IBU will assure you of that) which balances out the malty sweetness nicely. The carbonation is nice and moderate to the palate, even if it seems brutish and heavy after pouring. Good mouthfeel I think.
Originally brewed to commemorate the brewery’s anniversary (hence the name), they decided to make this one available year-round. I liked this beer. Since I had been reviewing a bunch of barley wines in succession, it was easy to pick them apart and differentiate one from the other. This was strong and flavorful, produced by a quality-conscious bunch. After looking at their website I saw that this beer pairs well with blue cheese. I guess they meant what they said – they want these paired with food and shared with others. With that in mind, let’s make a date of it. You bring the stinky cheese, I’ll bring a six of this. We’ll enjoy it together…