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Review: Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter

As if you needed a reminder, last weekend's blizzard left no doubt that we're still in the heart of winter beer season. Stouts, porters, and barleywines can provide a momentary safe haven from the storm, no matter how fleeting those moments may be between bouts of shoveling.

It can be difficult to navigate the world of winter beers, and I often grow weary of trying to myself. But Salt Lake City's Uinta Brewing Company has released a particularly good one. Sea Legs Baltic Porter is worth a history lesson. The beer is more like the porters of the 17th century than those of today. A Baltic Porter was a more robust version of the popular beer style brewed stronger for journeys across the North Sea. The style was a favorite of Catherine The Great. These beers range from 7 percent to 10 percent alcohol by volume, which falls more in the range of today's stouts.

sealegs.jpg Sea Legs adheres to this sea-faring tradition. It's aged in bourbon barrels and weighs in at 8 percent ABV. There's a mermaid and a pipe-smoking fisherman on the label of the 750-ml bottle.

The beer pours eye-patch black with a stormy brown head. I smell bourbon, vanilla, butterscotch, and chocolate.

Uinta calls this beer "a seductive offering." I'm no Odysseus, but I was steered toward this one based on the smell, and I was not disappointed. Sea Legs is drinkable, with a medium mouthfeel. There's lots of chocolate, with a hint of charred wood from the bourbon barrels. It tastes like a milder version of Founders Backwoods Bastard, which is possibly my favorite barrel-aged beer. It's harder to taste the alcohol in this beer than in some others, which has the flavor of a stout without the bulk. The beer retails for around $14 a bottle. It's currently on tap at Stars in Hingham.

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