Review: Nonsuch x 9 Mile Legacy Ursa Major Collaboration Barley Wine

Right before COVID hit, 9 Mile Legacy had a special visit to Brasserie Nonsuch in Winnipeg for a tap takeover and to collaborate on a beer. Shawn from 9 Mile sent me a message that they'd be passing by and wanted to go for a quick brunch, unfortunately for me I had to work right as they were passing through. I also missed out on their visit at Nonsuch as, well, I'm 200km-ish from the brewery, so I'm not often in Winnipeg (and more rarely in Saskatoon). Ursa Major Barley Wine ended up being the collaboration between Nonsuch and 9 Mile during that visit. 9.5% ABV

From the beer release email: At 9.5 ABV, Ursa Major will warm up your late summer nights spent stargazing into prairie skies. Pop the cork and you'll be met with a rich bouquet of sweet malt, light alcohol, citrus, and grapefruit aromas rounded out over soft caramel notes. Pour this moderately carbonated barley wine with confidence into your favourite snifter-style glass and allow your hand to warm the beer and reveal its true character. Adorned with a small but persistent head, this amber-coloured ale is ready when the glass has a mild sweat (somewhere around 8-10ºC is ideal).⁣
With a thick, rich mouthfeel, this clean-tasting barley wine opens on the palette with mildly roasted caramel notes from the Midnight Malt (courtesy of SK malters Makers Malt) alongside citrus notes from the Falconers Flight hops (courtesy of Brew Culture). Sweet alcohol notes will also make themselves known before a mildly bitter finish and a pleasant warming sensation from the elevated alcohol. If you're looking to pair this beer, we suggest cigars, roast beef, root vegetables, close friends, and open skies.

Appearance: Pours a murkiness that all I can describe as copper yet a bit muddy, though in this photo it has a bright red cherrywood body to it. There's a light-to-moderate amount of carbonation in the body. The head is moderate with a bit of a beige hue to it that gradually diminishes to a fairly thin head with a layered lacing on the glass.

Aroma: A sweet, malty beer with notes of caramel, a bit of woodiness to it, raisin and fig. There's a bit of an earthy hop presence at the end, but that's about it, pretty straight forward and not overly boozy so far.

Taste: Caramel/molasses is the main flavour I'm getting in this beer, followed by raisins, figs and dates. It's a tad woody and earthy, though it's most likely from the hops, though I'd like to see a barrel aged version of this. It has a good amount of dryness for the mouthfeel, while the aftertaste is a bit of pear. Not as sweet or syrupy as most Barley Wines I've had but not bad. As it warms up*, there's a bit of a bitter hop presence at the end of every sip.
*My computer restarted 39 times in 38 minutes, so this had a good amount of time to warm up, I'm writing this over an hour later when I can finally write an entire sentence without it crashing.

Overall Thoughts: I feel like this definitely needs to be aged a couple years to get to its potential, it has a nice amount of caramel with notes of dark fruits (raisin, fig, dates) but it's missing a bit of a rich booziness and syrupiness that you typically get in many Barley Wines. I have a second bottle so that one will for sure be in my hoard for a while.

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