Beer Reviews 1/13

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Getting a beer-reviewing gig is no easy thing––every asshole out there with a tongue can pretty much tell you if they like or don’t like a beer. The only reason I was able to secure this column was that I had the foresight to roofie Tyler Makmell and send him whirling and screaming into Montana’s underground sex trade––where I believe he will do very well. Apart from being a conniving bastard, I’ve also been writing about the local beer scene at the Utah Beer Blog for the last seven years. I think I have a pretty good pulse on Utah’s beer culture and hope you can find some use for my reviews. If you are interested in checking out my daily musings, please visit me at utahbeer.blogspot.com. For the first reviews of 2013 we have two brand-new offerings and the return of an award-winning classic. So let’s get on with it.

Sea Legs Baltic Porter
Brewery/Brand: Uinta Brewing Co.
ABV: 8.0%
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle
Description: This manly looking, would-be ass-kicker has the appearance of an old, dark Steinway piano with mahogany tones when held to the light. The deep khaki head rose to the width of two manly fingers before shrinking to one. The nose is just as you’d expect from a black beast such as this with dark roasty malts, dark fruit, caramel, molasses, chocolate and licorice. As it hits your tongue, you get punched with sweet raisins and brown sugar, followed by chocolate, vanilla and very light smoke midway through the swallow. Coffee, light char and gentle, woody notes are in the finish. It’s not too heavy and has a somewhat creamy carbonation.
Overview: This is a smooth, rich, silky beer. This well-crafted baltic porter shows great depth and complexity of flavor. It is an exceptional balance of sweet, bitter and roasted character––a fine example of this style. This looks like it will be a limited release, so don’t wait too long or you’ll be a very sad beer geek.

Switch Barrel Aged Ale
Brewery/Brand: Wasatch Brewing Co.
ABV: 8.8%
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle
Description: Considering this beer has been sitting in oak barrels for 18 months, it pours a brilliantly clear champagne color with two fingers of head that look like something right out of a Calgon Soap commercial. The nose is more like wine than beer. Wood from the barrel comes through with hints of tangy citrus. The taste starts surprisingly fruity with sweet grape and nectarine. Subtle notes of coriander and clove hit midway through as well. The finish takes on a nice fruity tartness that makes the whole package shine, while woody notes from the barrel help dry out the palate.
Overview: Due to the sweet nature of Port Wine and the base beer (Wasatch White Label), I was expecting a much sweeter, brazen beer. What we got was a complex, subtle, delightful ale, full of complex flavors and drinkability. This a very limited release and will run you about $20 a bottle.

Fifth Element

Brewery/Brand: Squatters
ABV: 6.7%
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle
Description: I love the way this beer looks! The way the cloudy apricot/straw color and foamy cap appear in my tulip-shaped stemware makes me want to “rent a room.” The nose has a bit of a barnyard funkiness to it with hints of lemon. The taste starts with light citrus notes then transitions into tart green apples, peach and white pepper. Next comes a dry oakiness that complements the tartness well. The finish is a combination a champagne-like dryness and bitter florals.
Overview: This is a fantastic take on the saison style. The wild/tart characters really make it stand out. It’s not a heavy beer by any means––the carbonation is bright and a little prickly on the tongue. Big flavors and the oak aging add many interesting dimensions to this highly sought-after beer.

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