Uinta “Oak Jacked” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Uinta “Oak Jacked” Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 10.31% ABV.

I poured some of this 750 ml bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A steady pour gave about 2 and a half fingers of whipped light tan head. This dissipated over a couple minutes to keep some head, and left thick lacing along the sides of the glass. The color is a dark red/amber that is fairly clear. This seems to have medium carbonation.

Smell: To start I get dark fruit, some citrus (maybe like tangerine), and some spices. The spices aren’t so clear, and take a backseat to some of the other smells. I also get some strong woody oak, and a decent dose of booziness. The oak and citrus give this an almost sour smell. I’m not getting much pumpkin in the smell; and as for sweetness, there is some dark malt that comes out, though nothing super sweet plays a role in the smell. I am quite interested in tasting this.

Taste: This has strong flavors up front: dark fruit, a nice smooth and warm oakiness, and some intense dark sweetness. The pumpkin does come out a little further along in the sip, and is clearer the more sips I take. The pumpkin flavor is not so bold, though. The strongest flavors are the oak and dark fruit. This also has a nice smooth sweetness of dark fruits, dark malt, and molasses; and aside those flavors there are some slight citrus/sour notes that add in some complexity. I’m not getting very much by way of spices in the taste, maybe some clove. This finishes sweeter, with malt and more of the earthy notes from the dark fruit. The aftertaste is a bit more bitter and subdued, but holds on to the oakiness pretty strong. This has nice, decently warm, and really smooth flavors. More forthright pumpkin would be nice, so I say anyway.

Feel: This leans to the heavy side among the medium bodied pumpkin ales, and has medium carbonation. The feel is surprisingly smooth. The oak helps here. It almost feels like something that I just got on cask. For something this high in ABV, this has quite a successful feel. The alcohol does not detract from the feel. However, the finish on this gives some slight chalkiness, which is  a little unpleasant. Other than that, a nice and smooth woody feel.

Drinkability: For a heavy-hitter like this, it is quite drinkable. The wood and dark fruit flavors make it smooth and not hard to drink. The oak does hang on a bit, and so could detract from one’s ability of unknowingly finishing a bottle of this. There is also the slight chalkiness in feel in the aftertaste which does draw some attention. Otherwise (and again, for something this high in ABV), it is decently drinkable.

Overall: I like this beer, and especially like how the oak flavors impart a smoothness in flavor and feel. That is really nice. The dark fruit flavors also add in some pleasant elements, and the slight citrus/sour notes add some character. It is impressive how the ABV does not advertise itself. The one thing I would want more of is clear and forthright pumpkin. The pumpkin doesn’t come out so clear as pumpkin. In fact, this is quite similar to the Sam Adams “Fat Jack” in that it has some strong dark fruit flavors, but doesn’t so much capture clear pumpkin. Compared to the Fat Jack, I certainly like this one more. The oak aging adds such a nice and smooth dynamic that just invites sip after sip. These aren’t the most unique and interesting flavors; but they work well together. If this beer could harness the power of the great pumpkin, and really accent it, it would be phenomenal. (Yes, I just typed that.) As it stands, it’s darn good, but no competitor to the other complex and rich pumpkin beers that really make that pumpkin pop.

Overall Rating: ***1/2

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