FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK:: Mixed Nuts with Mixed Reviews for Uinta and Heavy Seas

by Harvey Gold on January 14, 2014

There’ve been a myriad of reasons why we’ve had fewer postings recently, but suffice it to say, we’re waiting for a couple, and just put up 3 in the last week or so, even if a couple were on the short… but sweet side.

Anyway, in an effort to provide you with more content, avoiding sending you into the bathroom to continue your “research” with only a cereal box to read, a constipating session of Words With Friends, or samples of your mom’s cursive love notes to try to decipher (“Look at ALL the loops and stuff!! Were these people tripping?!”), we’re going to break with tradition for this one.

Normally, having an underlying mission, which is to Johnny Appleseed The Word about craft beer, brewers, food, and all related bidness as we see it, if we try a beer and don’t like it, we usually don’t write about it, unless it’s in the context of a full session.

This time things are different, in part. During the holidays we had the occasion to welcome the Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Akron (a good name, even if they don’t actually live in WEST Akron), lovers of fine beer, one and all, for a visit. Taking advantage of this, knowing they were amongst our friends who enjoyed a good Belgian, as well as some more complex brews in other styles, we decided to have a bit of a tasting, one that was met with mixed reviews across the board.

indexFirst we uncorked a 750 ml of Uinta’s Birthday Suit 20th Anniversary Sour Brown Ale. With the cool label designed by artist Travis Bone, pretty expensive at around $30, there was some anticipation in the room as I poured tasters of this American Wild Ale. A slightly reddish amber ale color with an unremarkable but present head (hard to measure in tasters), the nose screamed apple… but as observed by another, maybe pear. In any event, it was almost cider like in the smell of a fruit from that family. Because there’s so much sweetness in many pears, and this beverage is anything but sweet, I think I’ll hold with apple.

The first sip spoke to the fruit and the very definition of the word “sour.” Not a musky open brew flavor, but a crisp, laser focused sour apple. I found it distinctive and bracing. The rest of the jury kept their brows furrowed, as when we went to a second sip, there was more of a malt and caramel presence suggesting this brew might keep changing as it got comfortable in the glass.

Sour Enough Fer Ya?

Sour Enough Fer Ya?

The tart bite did, indeed begin to level off, but I think it’s by the changes to the palate rather than any mellowing from the Ale itself. What was observed  as we dug in, however, was that our sips started as sour apple, but finished a tart cherry, which would make sense, as Uinta’s 19th anniversary edition of this was, in fact, sour cherry.

As it warmed, the nose got maltier, but the beer did not. At times it seemed to flatten out, flavorwise, but I really think this was just the mouth getting used to it…. Or overwhelmed. My compadres did not like it. My response to that? More for me! A singular brew, but as one who likes the tart, a really enjoyable one.

As for the next one, Heavy Seas  Yule Tide, described on the label as an Imperial Red Ale brewed with Ginger and aged in Rum Barrels, we won’t be spending too much time on this, as the response here was unanimous.

Heavy-Seas-Yule-Tide-2013-960x522Giving them some real latitude, given the extravagant nature of Holiday brews, the nose still presented as if a shot of spiced rum extract had been dropped in, and to the mouth, at first blush, super rummy, the nose and the taste pretty much the same. Lots of vanilla. As we tried a second and third sip, the comments that became the consensus were : “Bad flat rum” and “syrupy.” No notion of how the beer component faired as it was determined we’d never, ever be able to get to it. And everything above, given the 9% ABV, was kind of overwhelmingly vivid.

The only residual note is that, having not finished the bottle, going back and checking the nose a few days later… it was sweet and delightful. Hmmm. Palates having been cleansed by chips and queso, perhaps it STILL  shouldn’t have come after the sour had leveled the battlefield. It has been reviewed well by others. Still…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carol, the beer doctor January 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Interesting and comprehensive review, thanks! I see that “sour beers” are the latest “thing” in the microbrew scene. I have enjoyed the few that I tasted recently at the recent NEPA craft brewfest. I’m glad it’s catching on; the Belgians had the right idea. Sour beverages are thirst-quenching, and sour beers really hit the spot. They “pear” well with food.

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