A favorite local brew these days is The Devastator Double Bock from Wasatch Brewery. Oh, man, this is good bock. And apparently I’m not alone in that opinion. I was told at my local state store that they’re having trouble keeping it in stock. Of this wicked 8 percent alcohol beer, “Utah will never be the same,” say its creators. “True, it’s huge and robust. But it’s also deceivingly smooth,” says Wasatch Beers founder Greg Schirf. All you need is a hunk of Irish soda bread and a couple bottles of The Devastator, and you’ve got yourself a St. Patrick’s Day meal.
And while we’re on the subject of dark beers, I’m also enjoying Four + Brewing Company’s Dunk’l. It’s a tamed-down version of German dunkel (which means “dark”), with a lower alcohol content than you’d typically find in Germany. But that allows Four + Brewing to sell it in the supermarket. Somewhat akin to hefeweizen, this is a murky wheat beer with subtle banana and clove notes.
Moab Brewery’s Jeff Van Horn began his beer career brewing at home before breaking into the microbrewery business as a keg washer. Now he’s the head brewer at Moab Brewery, which means he’s responsible for my favorite of their beers: Scorpion Pale Ale. This is a nicely hopped, somewhat citrusy American pale ale with a tantalizing smoky malt flavor—a clean, refreshing summer sipper.
Of all the Utah-brewed beers I’ve tasted since moving here in 1992, Squatters India Pale Ale IPA is consistently my favorite. This is a true, well-crafted IPA with 6 percent alcohol. It’s very well balanced with spicy floral hop aromas that follow a pretty, lacy head when poured from the bottle. The flavors are rounded out beautifully with English barley. No wonder this IPA has garnered four gold medals and one silver in international brewing competitions.
With a hardy alcohol content of nearly 9 percent, you should probably drink Uinta Brewing Company’s 14th Anniversary Barley Wine from a brandy snifter. According to Uinta’s Steve Kuftinec, this barley wine will improve over the next year or two, for anyone with the patience to wait that long. But it tastes fabulous right now and would make a great after-dinner drink on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t get the wrong idea: This isn’t wine, and there’s no fruit involved in the making of Uinta’s Anniversary Barley Wine—just water, malted barley, hops and yeast. It won awards at the Toronado Barley Wine Festival, North American Beer Awards and at the World Beer Cup. It’s a dark mahogany-hued beer with strong hop (it takes a lot of hops to balance all that alcohol) and pine aromas. Thick caramel-flavored malt flavors dance with cherry and coffee on the palate. Boy, oh, boy, is this stuff good, but don’t go looking for it at your local supermarket.
Pilsner on St. Paddy’s Day? Well, sure. Why not? Especially if it’s Bohemian Brewery’s crisp and clean Czech Pilsner. Open a can of Bohemian’s Czech Pilsner (yes, I said can), and you’ll get a rush of spicy Saaz hops, perfectly balanced with malt. This is hands-down the best Czech pils I’ve tasted outside of Europe. Bet you can’t drink just one.