I’ll admit, I’m not particularly well versed on the great state of Utah, but I didn’t expect much in the way of breweries out there (for obvious reasons). Luckily, I was wrong. Because, tucked away in Salt Lake City, Uinta Brewing Company is churning out craft brewed ales with the best of ‘em. They’ve been at it since 1993 with a selection of session-friendly options (Utah places restrictions on beers with an ABV over 4%) but they recently released a line of high-alcohol libations under the Crooked Line umbrella for nationwide distribution.
Cockeyed Cooper, a bourbon barrel-aged barley wine ale, is one of those offerings. At 11.1% ABV, you have to stop by a proper liquor store to get it in its hometown, but enticed in part by the fantastic art of Utah’s own Travis Bone, I picked a 750ml bottle up at my local grocer.
The color is a deep, opaque brown with a hint of ruby red, accompanied by a light tan head, while the nose is sweet, dark, and boozy with just a bit of vanilla. As you’d expect after a sniff of the stuff, the taste is rich and complex—lots of sweet caramel, fruit, and malt balanced remarkably well by oak and vanilla from the bourbon barrel aging. The whole thing finishes out with a bit of a hop kick and a warming alcohol burn that’s actually kind of pleasant, especially on the second or third glass. And trust me, after your first sip of this stuff, subsequent rounds will be a forgone conclusion.
Cockeyed Cooper is available nationwide. A 750ml bottle will run you about $12-14.