If you've been paying attention to Utah's craft beer scene over the last 12 months you've noticed that there's been huge momentum from breweries and brewpubs to move beyond Utah's famed low alcohol beers.
Now we all know that Utah brewers have been brewing higher ABV beers for years, but the recent explosion in the desire to produce big beers is only being fueled by the publics craving for them.
The Utah Brewers Coop is seeing record sales with it's Hop Rising 2IPA and people in and out of the beer industry are taking notice. The game has changed and everyone is getting involved. The Utah Brewers Coop has clearly been leading the way with nearly a dozen high ABV labels to their credit. Squatters Brewpub has done some as well, along with RedRock, Wasatch Brewpub - Even Hoppers will have some high Abv Labels out soon.
Uinta Brewing company has been in the "big beer" game for a while. Their Barleywine is still Utah's biggest beer to date, annually coming in at around 10-11%. As well as their Anglers pale ale and Monkshine Belgian style Pale.
Uinta has been curiously absent from our local "beer renaissance" but no longer. Now comes word that Uinta will finally be amping-up it's game and will begin to commit to a line of big - bottle conditioned beers.
Starting early 2010 Uinta will begin production on a line of premium beers unlike anything seen in Utah. The "super premium beers" will be small batched - high alcohol beers in the 12-15% ABV range - Aged in oak barrels and cork finished.
The debut line-up is rumored to consist of an Imperial Stout(Utah's first), an Imperial IPA and a regular release of Uinta's Bourbon Barrel Barleywine; which was a bit of a phenomenon in the local beer scene.
I just hope that that 12%-15% is an exaggeration. In my opinion when beers get that boozy they start to become more of a novelty and less of a premium. I guess we'll wait and see. What are your thoughts?
These new additions, along with all the other fine brews that they do, will help to eliminate the popular and misinformed bias that Utah just can't do beer well.
Photo Courtesy: Aubry Sun