Beer Review 0321: Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter

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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 split their beers into three different lines — a Classic Line, an Organic Line, and a Crooked Line, which is reserved for higher gravity beers. Today’s beer is from the Crooked Line, and it is the most recent release, Sea Legs Baltic Porter.

Sea Legs is a limited offering, with only 1,500 cases produced. Coming in at 8% ABV (alcohol by volume), this beer was aged for nearly one year in oak bourbon barrels. Being a Baltic Porter, the beer is cold fermented using a lager yeast.

Before I get into the guts of the review, let me first say that I’m not a fan of corked beer bottles. It looks nice, yes, but it adds cost to the beer, and most are extremely difficult to remove. I consider myself a gentleman of average strength, and I struggled for several minutes trying to get the cork out of Sea Legs. And when you struggle to even open the beer after spending a premium on it, you feel like a jackass. I’d rather just see a cap.

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The pour kicked up a large, quickly diminishing light tan head, soapy in texture. The color of the beer looks pitch black out of the light; move into the brights and you’ll see a dark ruby-brown liquid, opaque, but clear of particles and sediment. Lacing is very good, leaving behind patchy thin coatings.

For a beer aged in bourbon barrels for nearly twelve months, the aroma is a bit subdued — the bourbon is there, along with equal parts vanilla, but you really have to slam your nose into the glass to get it. As the beer warmed, it did become more pronounced, and the different scents here blend together well. There’s rich chocolate, coffee, and just a touch of smoke, along with some general roasted and toasted notes. After warming, the bourbon and vanilla take more of a center stage.

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The taste reminded me of a gentle bourbon, complimented by flavors of dark chocolate, black coffee and a vanilla sweetness. It’s really quite pleasant, but the mouthfeel is thin and doesn’t exactly go with the strength the flavors command. Middle of the taste sees the beer flirt with some dark fruit, specifically raisin and prune, leading to a finish that is mildly bitter, concluding with woodsy, smokey bourbon and balanced with an edge of vanilla. Sea Legs is medium-bodied, with a creamy but very thin texture.

When breweries come out with big bottles of beer that are corked and have a large price tag, you expect them to be great. And while this is a tasty beer, I’m not sure it falls into that top echelon you might expect be expecting. This is a bourbon barrel aged beer for a beginner, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love the bourbon barrel, and I enjoyed this as a nice change of pace in terms of the thin mouthfeel. That being said, no way I’d pay the price for this again. If you’re after a highly drinkable but mild barrel aged dark beer, this is for you.

Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter, 93 points. Price: $13.99 US for one 750 ml corked and caged bottle.

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