Beer Review 0144: Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA

The Uinta Brewing Company produces beer out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and have been doing so since late 1993. Named after an east-west mountain range in Utah, the brewery operates in a 100% wind-powered facility, becoming the first Utah company to achieve this environmentally friendly goal.

Uinta’s beers are organized into three different lines — they have a Classic Line (of which Dubhe is part of), an Organic Line, and a Crooked Line; the latter of which features big ABV (alcohol by volume) drinks in large bottle formats.

Dubhe is an Imperial Black IPA, named after a star of the same name — or also known as Alpha Ursae Majoris. This star illuminates in front of the big dipper, about 124 light years away; orange in color, and four times the mass of the sun. This Black IPA comes in at 9.2% ABV and 109 International Bitterness Units (IBU), so not only is the drinker expecting some delicious malts, but this one should be fairly hoppy, too. Oh, and this is brewed with hemp seed, in case you didn’t get the Dubhe/doobie reference.

Before I get into the review, you should make it a point to check out Uinta’s website. These guys do a great job making visually appealing bottles and labels, and it translates to the website, too. Very sharp, featuring all the information a craft beer drinker needs to know. They also put bottled on dates directly on the label, in big, easy to read type. Cheers for that!

Pouring produced a small but tight head, creamy in texture and long-lasting. From the initial settling of the head, I could tell this one was going to leave some excellent lacing, and it did not disappoint. The beer was a deep brown color, very much like soda, leaving faded ruby red edges at the bottom and sides of the glass. The body was clear, featuring no particles or sediment.

The aromatics were a tad on the faint side at first, but as the beer warmed, everything became more prominent and showcased a nice balance between hop and malt. The hops are here, for sure, present in a citrus note, decidedly orange and lemon. There’s an underlying pine note that couples well with the malts, which offer sweet caramel and a general roasted scent. There’s subtle notes of coffee and chocolate, and the whole aromatic picture heads toward some dark fruit, especially raisin, but just doesn’t quite get there. Still, this one is very nice and quite complex to my sniffer.

On the palate, Dubhe starts out sweet with caramel in the front, leading to a huge blast of malt with our friend coffee present, fresh and roasted. There’s a touch of chocolate right before the hops start to explode your tongue in the form of orange peel and bitter, sticky pine. The finish is fairly bitter, too, and rides a sharp hoppiness coupled with some black coffee. You can definitely feel the 109 IBU on the tongue — mouthfeel is creamy, but slightly prickly thanks to the carbonation.

Honestly, I had my doubts about this one given the dopey hemp theme, but this is quite an impressive beer. Dubhe sort of reminds me of an American Barleywine in many ways. Complex, great flavors, and well balanced. And the whole “hemp seed” thing? I’m calling a bit of marketing here, given that the beer is named “Dubhe.” This is just a good Imperial Black IPA. No gimmicks needed.

Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA, 92 points. Price: $3.19 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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