Written by John King
Like a sultry dame, they caught my eye, wet my lips, and stole my heart faster than I could even finish a glass of their amazing fermented beverage. Although it isn’t distributed here in Kentucky (Gosh, I write that a lot about the beers I drink), I had to get it in Chicago and Denver, CO. Uinta (out of Utah of all damn places) has developed a Crooked Line series consisting of bombers of some of their more unique and higher ABV beers. Here is what they have to say about them:
“In desire of creating a different experience in beer, Uinta launched its Crooked Line in 2010. These beers were dubbed “big beers” both in taste, alcohol content and size of bottle. Crooked Line beers are packaged in 750 ml bottles and are cork finished. Ranging from 9 to over 13% alcohol by volume, the intention was that these beers would be shared, as one would a bottle of wine, with friends and paired with food. Some beers are aged in oak, whiskey or bourbon barrels for up to six months prior to reaching the market. Knowing that each beer was quite different from the next, it was essential that each brew showcased its individuality outside the bottle as well. Uinta sought the talents of local artists to design the labels, assuring that each style was unique in packaging as well as in style and taste”
One of them, Labyrinth Black Ale, took the coveted prize of the best beer I had last year. It comes in at a shade over 13% and has aged in oak barrels giving it a nice black licorice and oak aroma. I went nuts for this beer at the Great American Beer Festival and filled my glass up at least three times. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have said the ABC’s backwards at that point.
Another one of the Crooked Series I picked up in Chicago last fall was the Cockeyed Cooper Barrel Aged Barleywine. Bottled on 7/20/2011, this barleywine had 10 months of age on it and I was itching to try it, knowing I’d be back up in Chicago next month and could buy more. So last night, after a run and about ready to get my hands dirty in the garden, I cracked this mother of a beer.
Another cool thing about the Crooked Series is that all local artists create the labels. The label for Cockeyed Cooper was created by Travis Bone, a Cubs fan, nonetheless and has an eerily similar appearance to the cartoon cooper.
I will note that those who drink their beer in appropriate glassware outside risk having a few bugs make their way into the glass. Cooper comes in at 11% ABV and the booze hides well amongst the strong aromas of vanilla and brown sugar with a slight hint of oak. The first couple sips were a little on the “flat side”, but as the beer warmed, the taste reminded me of a boozy crème soda with a bourbon chaser. Not as malty as other big barleywines, the tastes all melded together in a beautiful concoction of bourbon barrel heaven. I ended up savoring this beer over a two and a half hour span, enjoying every sip I could until I can taste it again in June.