Here at the Brew Sherpa lodge, we are big fans of the relatively new (and oxymoronically titled) Black IPA and Imperial Black IPA styles, and for our very first beer review, the Brew Sirdar is sampling Dubhe, an Imperial Black IPA from Uinta Brewing in Salt Lake City. This particular sample was a 12 ounce bottle served at 62° F in my favorite Spiegelau beer tasting glass. (I prefer to drink bigger beers above 60° because it’s easier to taste nuances than at cooler temperatures.)
Dubhe (pronounced doobie) is named after the state star of Utah, and is also a pun on the fact that the beer is brewed with hemp seeds. The IBU level is listed at 109, the SRM at 110 (another joke; the SRM is about 40), and the alcohol level at 9.2% ABV.
The beer pours dark, almost opaque, and kicks up a pleasantly substantial tan head. The aroma is of roast coffee, dark chocolate, and floral hops. The mouthfeel is full, creamy, and round. In the first few drinks, roast coffee is the dominant taste, backed by the sweet and bitter notes of dark chocolate, with the hop presence most notable on the finish. As one gets further along in the glass, the slightly harsh roast taste melds deliciously with the chocolate characteristics, and the hop profile begins to exert itself much stronger with both earthy and piney flavors. The hops build to a crescendo by the end of the glass, exquisitely complementing the coffee and chocolate while inducing the prickly tingling on the tongue that hopheads have come to love in big double IPA’s. Despite its strength, the alcohol is largely camouflaged by the presence of the dominant flavors. It is hard to discern exactly what the hemp seeds contribute to the overall flavor profile, perhaps they contribute to the body and the malt backbone.
In less expert hands, any one of the major flavor components could have been out of control, but Uinta has done a masterful job of balancing the bitterness from both the roasted malt and the hops with a satisfyingly substantial malt structure. This is a terrific beer. Highly recommended.
The Brew Sirdar rating (out of 100): 96
Recommended glassware: wine glass
Recommended food pairing: hard cheese, pepperoni pizza