In the enigma that is Salt Lake City sits Uinta Brewing Co. which has been loosening Utahan’s inhibitions since the winter of 1993. Today they have grown to become the 34th largest craft brewery, selling over 80,000 barrels per year, and being sold across 32 states.
On its first anniversary Uinta released a massive barleywine to celebrate its founding. It was released every year after for 15 more years. However in 2010, due to overwhelming demand, the beer become available year-round while keeping the anniversary name. This beer has earned Uinta a lot of accolades in the form of awards. Its website boasts thirteen such medals from the likes of the World Beer Cup, World Beer Championships, and the North American Beer Awards.
Straight to the snifter, Anniversary Barleywine shows a murky sienna color existing halfway between red and brown. The headspace filled quickly with fawn colored foam as if to tout, “They may call me wine but make no mistake, beer I am.” Aroma is toffee dominate with grainy bread, honey and molasses filling out the corners. At 10.4 percent alcohol I am pleasantly surprised that the nose carries almost no sign of it.
Anniversary Barleywine’s taste is completely predictable but in a very good way. Grainy, bready, sweet dates, a small alcohol heat hit, and a long lingering hoppy bitterness. It is really quite enjoyable as far as barleywines go. It reminds me very much of the Boston brown bread baked with molasses that I scarfed as a kid; this is just the liquid adult version. Mouthfeel is sticky as hell, evidenced by the only fruit fly within a mile radius finding his way into my glass. It would seem the carb level was boosted to help offset that and it works fairly well until the beer warms up a bit and a lot of that CO2 has come out of solution. At that point it becomes quite sweet.