After the last beer review, I decided to try another Wasatch beer. Devastator is the first real “craft brew” that I can remember drinking and enjoying. Back then it seemed a very strong beer, leaving me hardly able to finish two of them. The name and description of the beer are fun. The label features a red eyed ram, surrounded by fire, tearing through downtown Salt Lake City. The description on the can reads, “If you’re going to sin, sin big. With 8% alcohol by volume and a creamy richness, this brew has developed a serious cult following. Imagine that—a cult following in Utah?” This beer is irreverent on nearly every level. In a state where they only allow low ABV beer to be sold outside of the state liquor store, where alcohol consumption is tightly regulated, and the reason is abundantly clear, this beer takes on the establishment in a way that is entertaining and lighthearted.
The beer is a dark reddish-brown color that is free of cloudiness. It has large suds and poor head retention, even after a vigorous pour and agitation to see if I could get it to stick around. This ale smells sweet. The first impression I got was dates and raisins. I got a whiff of ancho chiles, strait from the bag when they are still fresh and pliable. There was a slight yeasty component; I’m hesitant to call it an off smell because it wasn’t unpleasant. Having brewed beer, I recognize the smell to be from the yeast. There were aromas of pumpernickel bread, followed by a slight orange aroma and nuttiness. I could smell this beer all day long. It is extremely pleasant on the nose and much different than the pale ales that I typically gravitate towards. I couldn’t detect any specific aromas that I could attribute to the hop additions. It seemed that they hopped it very lightly, only enough to offset the sweetness.
Most of the sweet aroma components were present in the flavor. It had a roasted malt component that seemed to morph into toffee and honey. I noticed a dark pipe tobacco flavor, black Cavendish tobacco would be a good reference to the flavor. Figs and raisins were also present in the flavor profile after a few swigs. The mouthfeel was thick and rich. With the higher alcohol content and residual sugars, it’s no wonder that it feels so rich. There was no bitterness that I could detect. In fact, I felt that it could be hopped more aggressively. The finish was very short with the sweet dark flavors quickly dropping off. Half way through the beer, I could feel the higher alcohol content.
This beer would be a good pairing for foods that have a sour element, like brats with sauerkraut, or a Reuben sandwich. I would pair it with sweet items as well. It would make a good dessert beer. Indian curries would lend themselves excellently to this beer. The sweetness and dried fruit components would mesh well with the strong spice elements you find in those dishes. While it is quite sweet, I wouldn’t say that it is strong bodied. It is a great beer to pair with food, and that might bring out some hidden characteristics. I am going to try it with lamb curry soon!