Greetings beer aficionados! Back from a long sabbatical, the Saturday Night Sixer has returned from the great beyond to give you a weekly dose of the best craft beers that can be found in bottles around town. Having trouble keeping up on the latest offerings from your favorite breweries or just looking for something new and exciting for your weekend? We have you covered! All of the beers reviewed here can be found in your local package liquor stores or anywhere that carries fine craft brews. Now, onward to beer …
For a long time, craft beer was the last thing that came to mind when I thought of Utah. Now, mind you, that is no slight against the fine state. I simply imagined majestic rock formations, skiing, snowboarding, and a giant bed of salt flats. However, Uinta Brewing Co. started producing quality craft beers back in 1993 (when I was still a wee lad, listening to grunge), and has made a name for themselves built on consistently solid beers. If you are a craft beer drinker you have likely imbibed a Hop Nosh IPA, Baba Black Lager, Cutthroat Pale Ale, or perhaps even one of their seasonal offerings like the Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin ale. What you may or may not be aware of is the line of specialty beers Uinta started producing in 2010 entitled the Crooked line.
The Crooked line of beers was intended to be a series of “big” beers, both in flavor and in size. The lineup consists of beers ranging from 8-percent to 13-percent ABV, so these are definitely not your grandpa’s session beers! Often the Crooked lineup finds the beers being aged in some variety of oak, whiskey, or bourbon barrels to give them special characteristics, and then find themselves being cork finished, allowing them to condition in the bottles. There have been some rather prominent releases thus far, with my personal favorites being the Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin ale and Labyrinth Quadruple Black Ale (oh Labyrinth … I could rant about thee, but that’s for another article). That is where Sea Legs Baltic Porter, aged in oak barrels, comes into play. Originally released as a limited offering back in 2012, a new batch has made its way to the shelves of your local brew supplier!
Baltic porters are one of my favorite styles due to their bold flavors and complexity, and Sea Legs does not disappoint in either category. Pouring rich and jet black, you can detect virtually no light traveling through your glass … it’s like Mordor in a glass (yeah, I went there). It possesses a rich off-white/tan head about a finger and a half thick at first pour that retains well and leads to beautiful lacing for the duration of the drink. The aroma is big with chocolate, roasted malt, and slight hints of vanilla and cocoa, coffee, and slight, smokey notes are present, too. I also noticed that the aromatics opened up greatly as the beer warmed during drinking. In terms of taste, this is beast of a beer that will put hair on your chest. The mouthfeel is rich and burly, coating the mouth and sticking to the palate. The initial flavors are lots of chocolate malt and hints of bakers chocolate, toasted malt that has a slightly burnt characteristic, and smokey malts.
The middle and back are coffee with slight oak tannin and an very slight fruity hint (figs perhaps?), with a touch more smoke that seems to aid in the rich and smooth mouthfeel. It finishes smooth but with a complex bitterness; the bitter finish does hang around on the palate well after each sip but the adequate carbonation helps to take away some of that. There is very slight alcohol warming, and Sea Legs actually had me thinking that it may be packing more than the 8-percent ABV stated on the bottle, as it drinks quite big. Overall, for a style I partake in regularly, I would definitely put this up there with the big dogs of the porter genre.
Sea Legs Baltic P0rter was a very limited offering during their last release a few years ago, so this one most likely promises to be as well. Jubilation Wine & Spirits has you covered with bottles available now, but as with any small run beer you will definitely want to get yours sooner rather than later. I must say I was quite impressed with this beer as a whole and plan on aging a bottle or two; it definitely deserves a spot in the upper echelon of the style. If you are looking for something that packs a bit more punch than your average porter, or you enjoy a nice rich beer with lots of character and complexity to offer, this will definitely be right up your alley. Grab one for your Valentine’s Day celebration, but be sure to share!
Until next time …
— Brandon Daniel