Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial India Pale Ale By Edgar IBU

Southern Tier - Unearthly Imperial IPA


Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial India Pale Ale

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company (Lakewood, New York)

ABV: 11%!!!

Serving size: 22-ounce bottle

Served in: Traditional beer glass and fluted wine glass

I’m back and, yes, I’m back with another Southern Tier Brewing Company India Pale Ale. Last time I tackled the Southern Tier IPA, and this time I’m taking on their Unearthly India Pale Ale. I wanted to do another Southern Tier beer because the brewery boasts several IPAs, and I wanted to see what sort of range of flavors their different styles had to offer.

I have to confess, I was afraid of the Unearthly Imperial IPA. The fact that it was 11% ABV was intimidating. Sure, I could handle the booze, but could I handle it and do a decent tasting, let alone write a review? So, it’s been in my fridge for two long weeks, looking at me whenever I opened the door. Staring. Taunting. But today I had the time, and I found the resolve to conquer it. I’m glad I did.

Head: The head was frothy and creamy, and quite persistent. It was a light yellowish – it looked like actual fresh cream – thick, inviting and beautiful.

Color: It was a medium amber/copper color. The creaminess of the head complemented the color of the beer well, and formed a pretty accurate picture of what I see in my head when I think about a having a good beer. It’s very attractive in the glass.

Aroma: The brew had a complex aroma. Interestingly, there was a big difference in the aroma when it was in a traditional 22 oz. beer glass and a fluted wine glass. I got a bit of yeast, and citrusy hop notes in the beer glass. I expected it to smell like alcohol (it’s 11%, people) but detected little or none. This aroma changed dramatically when I put it in a wine glass. Now it was much sweeter, with alcohol much more prominent. The citrusy hops were still there, but they moved into background.

First sip: I was surprised by a strong, sweet, malty flavor accompanied by an alcohol presence. All of it was strong enough to remind me of a good Irish whiskey. The hops bitterness shows up at the tail end, but it gets lost a bit in the other, more prominent notes. The strong malt and alcohol flavors reminded me of Lagunitas “Maximus IPA,” but I liked the Unearthly IPA more, because it managed to be an extremely high-gravity IPA without killing my tastebuds before I could take another sip.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel of this brew is a bit heavier than the regular Southern Tier IPA, and seems to cling to the tongue a bit, but the carbonation is moderate, persistent, and lovely, and works to lighten the syrupy-like sweetness and makes the brew quite pleasant over the course of tasting.

Overall impression: This beer is complex. The first part of every sip is sweetish – sweeter than I prefer – but I found that it grew on me with each additional sip. The alcohol flavor is present in every sip, but not overwhelming. It really reminded me of Irish whiskey, but with a nice hop bitterness on the tail end of every sip. At a certain point, I really started feeling the 11% ABV.

Bottom line: The Unearthly Imperial IPA is a good, strong beer (with the emphasis on strong). I wouldn’t drink it every day because it is powerful stuff, and the flavor is a bit heavy for my taste. It is something, though, that I’d be happy to bring out on special occasions, and especially something I’d like to share with friends who love beer as much as I do.

Food pairings: Potato chips, fries, anything salty. I had a few chips with the brew. They made it taste a bit cleaner, less syrup-like, and they brought out the whiskey notes in a very, very nice way. I also think it would go well with desserts, particularly something with chocolate in it, or perhaps doughnuts.


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