Archive for the ‘Southern Tier Brewing Company’ Tag

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.

Southern Tier India Pale Ale By Edgar IBU

Southern Tier IPA

[Editors’ noteWe are please to welcome Rowdy and Independent Beer Reviews’ first contributing writer – Edgar IBU. The “Bitter Unit,” as he known around the palatial R&I offices, is our blog’s hopsecutioner; he will be tasting and writing about all the high hop offerings that are so fashionable these days. So, without further ado, I give you . . . Edgar IBU.]

Southern Tier India Pale Ale

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

ABV: 7.3%

Serving type: 12 ounce bottle

Hello, all. I am Edgar IBU, and I will be the Rowdy and Independent Beer Reviews specialist in all things hop-tacular: Pale Ales, Imperial Pale Ales, and anything hopped, hopped some more, and hopped yet again. For my first offering, I’ll review Southern Tier’s India Pale Ale (or IPA for short).

Southern Tier is a small brewery in Western New York. I first became aware of Southern Tier’s line of fine (and I do mean fine) beers when my friend, Jason, brought a Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout to my house a few months ago. It was a striking beer—sweet, complex, and delicious, almost dessert-like. It was the sort of beer I’d want for breakfast with a cinnamon roll or maybe some coffee cake. But, honestly, it was not something I’d drink every day.

I was intrigued by that beer, though, and wondered what else they might have to offer. After investigating their website, I found that Southern Tier boasted an extensive line of perennial and seasonal brews in a variety of styles. The interesting thing about Southern Tier’s brews was the fact that they take beers from many different styles and put their own twists on them. The result is a unique and creative line of beers. So, I jumped at the chance to pick up a couple of their IPAs when I was at Atlanta’s Tower Beer, Wine and Spirits recently.

Southern Tier’s IPA is an American version of the classic British brew. India Pale Ale gets its idiosyncratic name from its origins in the British colonization of India. In those days, transportation of supplies for the British Army (including beer, naturally) was by ship, a long, hot, and perilous journey from the British Isles, around Cape Horn, and on to South Asia. Traditional beers of the time did not take the trip well; they were often undrinkable by the time they reached their destination. Some enterprising but unidentified Brit (Bless his soul!) decided to harness the preservative powers of hops to ensure that the beer remained fresh, and, most importantly, drinkable. Brewing this style of beer required the addition of hops, lots and lots of them, to keep the beer fresh. Whole hops were even added to the very casks of beer sent to the colonies, a process now called “dry hopping.” The result was a very durable brew, and the birth of a new taste profile for beer, one based in the glories of hops bitterness, flavor, and aroma. IPAs, then, are very, very hoppy beers, and tend toward bitterness, with relatively high alcohol content. This New World version of the venerable IPA style is no exception. It kicks like a mule at 7.3% ABV. Unlike its British counterparts, however, American pale ales, including this IPA, are brewed with yeasts that impart much less yeast flavor in the finished brew. The results in a much cleaner finish, one that really lets the hops shine through.

Here are a few observations from my taste test:

Head: Upon pouring, the head was minimal, fading fast, though it left a rim of creamy, white froth hanging around the edges of the glass as I drank it. The foam left virtually no lacing on the inside of the glass.

Color: This beer was a beautiful light amber color, with just a hint of chill haze, fading as the beer warmed a bit.

Aroma: The aroma is dominated by a distinctly citrusy hop character, like grapefruit, against a subtle background of malt sweetness. It’s very pleasant and refreshing.

First sip: I was struck first by the malt character of the brew which is strong at the beginning and then fades as the hops bitterness and flavor kicks in. I also got some wonderful hops aroma on the front end of the first taste. The combination is very assertive, even a bit metallic at the leading edge, though that impression fades almost instantly, giving way to a clean bitterness. This beer wants you to pay attention to it! The first sip was very tasty, and left me wanting another.

Overall impression: I could drink this beer every day. The malt taste is both sweet and a bit chocolaty/smoky, but not in a cloying or overwhelming way. It announces its presence at the outset, and then clears the way to let the hops take over. The packaging says that four malts and four hops are used, and the beer is “triple hopped,” according to the Southern Tier website. The result is a beer with a distinct hop character that combines both citrusy and spicy notes, with citrus dominating. The beer has a light, but not watery, mouthfeel, and a moderate amount of carbonation. The finish is very clean, though the hop bitterness abides for a little while before fading.

Food pairings: It would go well with Buffalo wings, a Carolina style BBQ sandwich, or something similarly spicy and vinegary/salty, which would provide a perfect complement to the balance of sweetness and bitterness in the brew.

Rating: I’d love to put a number on the beers I review, but I think there’s a better way to do it. If I like it, and want to have it again, I’ll tell you so. If not, I’ll tell you so as well. So, what do I think about Southern Tier IPA? Drink it. It’s good.

Up next: Southern Tier Unearthly IPA (Oh, boy! I’m looking forward to that one!)