I love Black Licorice. I mean I will climb trees for the stuff. If someone said there was a bag of it on the roof I’d have my ladder out in a flash and make my son climb up there and get it for me! (what else are kids for?). I love the stuff, but in a beer? Meh…I wasn’t sure. I know I’ve had some stouts before that get the flavor of licorice in them, Victory Storm King and Avery Mephistopheles come to mind. These are great beers, but they didn’t add licorice, they just brewed a licorice flavor. So I was very skeptical when I saw Uinta Brewing’s Labyrinth Black ale, because it was aged in barrels with licorice.
Then Something happened. I couldn’t find any. Story was that the brewery couldn’t keep up with demand for the brew. It was selling out everywhere as fast as they could get it into bottles. So scarcity combined with the fact that I kept hearing from everyone how great this brew was compelled me to seek it out for myself and give it a try…I’m glad I did…
This was a truly inspired brew. Every once in a while you get a beer where you can taste the craftiness in it (looking at you Dragon’s Milk) and this is truly one of those beers. As you can see it came in a corked 750 ml bottle which almost ensures it will be great…right? Well this brew did not disappoint.
I didn’t refrigerate this beer, instead i kept it in my garage which stays a constant 54 degrees in the winter. A perfect environment for stouts and darker beers. The pour was a dark brown color, but when it got into the glass it blackened up and had a thin cappuccino colored head that left lots of lacing.
Of course the flavor is most important, and where I would be the most skeptical. I didn’t expect a lot even though people had been telling me how great it was, because I expected a very full nose, but what I got was very understated. A little maltiness, but that was about all. However when I took my first sip, I knew this was no ordinary beer. I was expecting a lot of licorice and a stoutiness to it, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was very mellow and the licorice flavor was just a hint up front, and then again in the finish.
The middle was roasty, and full of barrel notes of caramel and vanilla. All in all it was very good. Tasty, and crafty. I was expecting some sort of licorice sludge but what I got was a light, crisp and tasty black ale that completely lives up to its hype. I guess at least its local hype out west here. The good news here for most folks that frequent this blog is that they are out west and in the East. They cover most of the eastern seaboard and the intermountain west…sorry California. But they are expanding like most good breweries do and I’m sure before too long they will be coming to your state.
If you find this pick it up. It was fantastic.