Uinta Takes its Pale Ale National — Should you Care?

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing is taking its flagship pale ale Cutthroat national. What does that mean for you?

20160128_214148Uinta Brewing announced last month it’s taking its award-winning Cutthroat Pale Ale national, re-branding it as Uinta Pale Ale. But does the world need another pale ale? And is Uinta’s unique enough to stand out?

Before the marketing manager reached out wanting to know if we’d take a crack at this low ABV (4.5%) offering my exposure to Uinta’s beers was severely limited. I’ve drunk their Monkshine a few times, a Belgian-style blonde ale which mirrors a Belgian tripel with equal amounts of pepper and banana, but that’s about it.  That added to the lure of this beer from a brewery that I’ve seen plenty of but haven’t felt compelled to try a bunch of their beers.

A full-on marketing grab-bag arrived a few weeks later; a Uinta Pale Ale trucker hat, which my kids loved, a Uinta Pale Ale t-shirt, which I’ll wear plenty because I haven’t bought new clothes in about six years, a pint glass and the beer — a pockmarked can and a slightly dogeared bottle.

Before I dig too deep into this beer let’s take a step back and think about the shelf space competition. Chicago favorites of mine include Goose Island’s Green Line, which is also going national, Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter and Three Floyds Zombie Dust — although its billing as a pale ale is debatable.

In my new home base of Michigan, and soon to be on store shelves in Chicago, are Odd Side Ales Citra Pale Ale and Short’s Space Rock.

That’s just a snapshot of pale ales out there. There are plenty of others on store shelves, local, regional and national. So where does Uinta’s Pale Ale fit in the mix?

20160128_214105Pouring out a burnt orange in color with a touch of sticky lacing clinging to the side of the glass, this pale ale from Uinta pours out a bit darker than your run of the mill pale ale — the first indication this isn’t your average pale.

The nose is very malt forward, giving off a mix of caramel chews and fresh-baked french bread; think walking by a Jimmy John’s on the way to a candy store next door. There isn’t much in the way of hops in the nose, which is a break from a number of the pale ale’s I laid out above. Uinta doesn’t really hide this. The commercial description is littered with malty tasting notes and descriptors.

The malty overtones carry over to the palate with an initial pop of tropical hops followed by caramel pudding and a biscuit covered in honey and butter. It’s sweet and bready throughout with a decent pinch of orange rind in the finish, which is more smooth than bitter. Again, different from many of the pale ales pouring from tap handles and on store shelves.

If you take away your preconceived notion of what today’s pale ale tastes like then you have a pretty sold beer. The Uinta Pale Ale is sessionable at 4.5 percent ABV and has some really nice balance. However if you’re looking for a hop-forward pale ale teeming with myriad of hops, this isn’t it.

Maybe think of this pale ale as leaning towards the amber ale family. Pitting it against a Zombie Dust isn’t quite fair but a Bell’s Amber, Anderson Valley Boont Amber or Lagunitas Censored is.

So, should you care that Uinta’s Pale Ale is on store shelves nationwide? If you’re looking for a break from hoppy pale ales or are looking for a low ABV balanced pale ale, then yeah. If you’re still looking to badger your tongue with lupulin then you should probably take a pass.

*As mentioned above, this beer was provided gratis by the brewery. As a rule, GuysDrinkingBeer does not solicit free beer and we rarely accept beer samples for review, except when we believe it would be editorially compelling or interesting to our readers. For more on our policies on beer writing ethics and transparency, see our post here.

 

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Ryan

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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