- Mike Riedel
It used to be that a brewery would make a single and a double IPA and leave it at that. Nowadays, most breweries have an entire section in their portfolio dedicated to a variety of IPAs. It's not easy to have 10 IPAs on the menu and have each one with a different taste. However, as the selections for this week's column show, these breweries have not only added notches to their respective "bedposts," but they managed to have them taste pretty gosh-darn swell.
Uinta Sonder pours a cloudy haze of deep orange-copper that's topped with a bountiful head of dense, white foam. Its excellent retention sees the head slowly die down to a paper-thin cap and leave a consistent smattering of thinner, soapy lacing. Catch aromas of floral pine resin, sticky grapefruit, pineapple and sweet peach skins. The remaining citrus is vague, shrouded largely in a raw, almost dank herbaceousness. There's a hint of the faintest purple grape skin and passionfruit tones toward the back end. It may appear understated at times, but when it shines, it's with great nuance.
A taste of floral hops, sweet pine resin and ultra-dry caramel malt forms the base while sweet peach, pineapple and general candied citrus come through in the background in minor waves. Note the flaky, boozy honeyed malt on the finish, along with more subdued light tones of ripe herbaceousness. Mouthfeel shows a crisp medium body heightened by an excellent flaky malt; silky, semi-creamy carbonation with a perfectly mild hop prickle; slightly sticky and resinous; raw bitterness amplifies into the finish.
Overall: A fine beer. Boatloads of flavor and a gulper mouthfeel make this dangerous at 8.3 percent, but the aggressive bitterness pushes you back down into your chair. Just making sure you still know who's boss, even if he is currently in pieces in a scrapyard somewhere. But I hear they can rebuild him. Something about having the technology?
Bewilder Deseret IPA pours hazed honey/amber color with a lot of bubbles racing up the brew, shooting up to a thick foamy two-finger snow-white head full of bubbles of all sizes that fades very slowly, leaving decent spotty lacing and some rings as it settles down. Smells of fresh piney hops, grapefruit, lemon zest, toasted bread, biscuit, citrus hops, hay or wet grass, light caramel, orange peel and some mild earthy spices. The aroma is soft and on the sweet side with nice balance and all the IPA basics showing up on the timid side.
Taste is similar to the smell but with a stronger malt presence that brings more grains, honey biscuit and graham cracker to go along with the piney hops, grapefruit, lemon and citrus hops. Earthy notes show up in the flavor as well, with some wood or tree bark that is most likely the toasted malt and fruity yeast with the hops to give off an overall beer sweetness. Could be a New England or West Coast IPA depending on the sip and how the brew washes down, so that aspect of the beer was nice and added to the overall complexity of it. Very nice balance.
Overall: This has a nice mouthfeel with typical carbonation, a medium body that's on the heavier side, malty/biscuit notes to balance the sharp hops, and a decent level of bitterness that you'd expect for an IPA. No sign of the 7.0 ABV—it's easy to drink. It's an enjoyable and above-average IPA.
Sonder comes in a 12-ounce can and is at Uinta's Brewhouse Pub, to enjoy in or take home. Deseret is in a 16-ouncer and can only be purchased to-go from Bewilder package agency. As always, cheers!