Uinta Brewing Company - Cockeyed Cooper Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine Ale

Uinta Brewing Company - Cockeyed Cooper Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine Ale

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

American Barleywine Aged In Bourbon Barrels

Country:

United States

Alcohol by Volume:

11.10%

Uinta Brewing Company - Cockeyed Cooper Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine Ale

  • Alcohol by Volume: 11.10%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 50-60° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Snifter
The barleywine style casts a pretty wide net, stylistically speaking. From vibrantly aromatic with fresh hoppy characteristics to profoundly bitter to rich and malty; you just never quite know what you might get when sampling a new version. Immediately upon pouring this beer, the room practically fills with the glorious aromas of pungent hops. To quote The Jeffersons theme song, “There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that!” But go ahead and get your nose into your snifter after a good swirling of the brew, and you’ll discover there’s more to it than just hops—there’s a sturdy malt backbone. Caramel scents abound, blanketed by absolutely dank and spicy hop notes. Pine, peppermint sprig, and suggestions of spicy rye come to mind. Restrained oaky vanilla notes waft up as it warms, and eventually, tones of cherry appear. There’s even some spicy yeastiness, not to mention alcohol at full warmth. Quite complex; this is an extremely enticing aroma to be sure. Just as barleywines are not uniform in flavor from one to the next, the influence of barrels in the aging process can vary wildly. Most of the bourbon barrel beers we’ve had have been extremely heavily influenced by the bourbon, which can be tasty, but throws subtlety right out the window. This beer, however—even after six-months in the barrel—shows refinement and grace in its integration of bourbon barrel flavors, which is a very welcomed change of pace. It doesn’t surprise us—balance in their beers is the very hallmark of the Uinta brewery. On the palate, you get all that you’d expect in a well hopped American barleywine, plus clean notes of toasty grains. But everything is cradled by a gentle bourbon character. Cherry, vanilla, oaken woodiness, rye spice, it’s all there, but none of it hammers you on the noggin—these flavors gently unfurl. There’s a very unique spicy tingling that develops in the finish, probably a combinatory effect from the hops and the bourbon, with perhaps the oak and the yeast also taking a stab. It leaves a prickling tickle on the tongue for minutes, going well beyond the timescale that one would normally describe as the finish. This beer really shines when it’s warmed up to about 60°F—and that’s where you stand to get more of the bourbon character showing up. If you drink it closer to 40°F, it’s going to suppress nearly all of the bourbon character, but will still drink like a very tasty, sturdy barleywine—thus offering the drinker the opportunity to essentially customize their drinking experience based on preference. We enjoy the bourbon dialed up a bit, which in this beer still remains very nice even at full warmth. We may specialize in beer, but we also love us some bourbon; sipping this fine brew, we wish that sometimes bourbon tasted just like this. In fact, some of the finest bourbons we’ve had have been 18+ year old single-barrel versions, with flavors just so remarkably well-integrated, and Cockeyed Cooper reminded us of those ultra-refined versions. The greatest accomplishment here, besides the remarkable drinkability, is that this beer seems almost like a new type of beverage—a hybrid between beer and bourbon that stands on its own, as opposed to a beer “flavored” with bourbon or, heaven forbid, a bourbon splashed with beer… Serve as a digestif, or, try it with some deeply roasted, sweet glazed, caramelized duck in a sweet vermouth (or bourbon and water) reduction. As a heads up: under the influence of food, a bit more of the bourbon character is teased out of the barleywine background. Is that a good thing? (or a great thing!)
The Uinta (pronounced “you-in-tah”) Brewing Company takes its name from a mountain range running east-west across northeastern Utah, located in the Rocky Mountains. The name “Uinta” is derived from the Ute Indian tribe, from which “Utah” also took its name. The Uinta B.C. began in 1993 to bring fresh, high quality, craft beer to Utah in a sustainable and environmentally conscious manner. When founder Will Hamill established Uinta, he succeeded in merging his love of brewing and his passion for the outdoors. He became an avid homebrewer after moving from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon in 1988, a place that was already way ahead of the curve in terms of brewing and beer culture. He knew that he wanted to start his own brewery, but the Portland market already had its fair share of breweries. Having always enjoyed an outdoorsy lifestyle of kayaking, skiing, and biking in beautiful country terrain, he searched for a mountain town that would afford him the same opportunities, but with less market saturation. Salt Lake City was his pick, and while he could now ski and brew in the same day, the decision may have seemed a bit unusual, given the state’s restrictive alcohol laws and local resistance to consumption of alcohol. Utah’s state alcohol laws restrict the sale of beers stronger than 4% ABV to a state run liquor store distribution network. What this means is that your everyday Utah beer is going to top out at 4% alcohol by volume. These days, that may sound a bit pathetic, but we must say, we’ve not yet had a less than flavorful brew from a Utah brewer. Brewing at or below the 8 proof level means you have got to know your stuff, and only truly adept brewers can reliably make beers at this low ABV that remain full flavored and interesting. So the alcohol levels may be muted, but the game is elevated, and these brewers reliably demonstrate that beer can be loaded with flavor, and satisfying to the craft beer drinking culture, without going wild on the booze levels. That mainstay of producing tasty beers with no room to hide in high alcohol levels has resulted in a culture of balanced session style beers, and even when Uinta dials things up for their bigger beers, the same aesthetic applies. Bigger is not always better, but in fact, it is possible to make bigger better, which is exactly what Uinta has done with their Crooked Line of big and experimental beers. They’ve also experimented with green technology, with great success. Their brewery has been completely wind-powered since 2001, becoming the first business in Utah to achieve that milestone. But, Uinta’s commitment to the environment doesn’t end there; they established a recycling location for brown glass, donate their used grain to local ranchers to use as feed, purchase recycled paper, use natural lighting in the brewery as well as energy-efficient electric fixtures, and, their delivery trucks run on biodiesel. All this responsibility and environmental awareness—does Will Hamill have any fun? All the time, he’s doing what he loves, and with a clear conscience. Check out the January 2011 cover of BeerAdvocate magazine—looks like a man who is enjoying himself indeed, doing exactly what he wants to do: http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/3409910. You see that beer he’s holding? That’s the one we’ve selected for you. What’s good enough for our members? Why, only the beer that the brewery owner takes to the top of the mountain with him, that’s what. Hey, just a reminder if you’re tempted to do the same thing: Don’t eat the yellow snow. The barleywine-stained stuff, however, you damn well better! And while warmer weather is already upon us, you could certainly stash away some of this big beer for your next ski trip, as it will age nicely and by all accounts, will be absolutely righteous come winter!
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