Beer Review 0073: Southern Tier IPA

Southern Tier is a brewery based in Lakewood, New York. Yes, that New York, not a magical New York located in the south, as one might think. Started up in 2002 by Phineas DeMink and Allen Yahn, the company is distributed in about half of the United States and several foreign countries.

The goal of Southern Tier was to get back to small batch brewing in a region that has a rich brewing tradition. The brewery started with a Pilsner and an India Pale Ale, which is the beer we’re looking at today.

Since the start nearly ten years ago, Southern Tier has gotten away from the “small” label and now boasts a fairly big brewery with a killer bottling system that can burn it up — 12,000 bottles per hour at maximum speed.

Southern Tier IPA explains on the bottle that they use four different varieties each of hops and malt. This is a year-round beer and comes in a little higher on the ABV (alcohol by volume) spectrum, at 7.3%.

This beer produced a small but lasting head in my glass, frothy in texture. The liquid itself was a nice golden color, clear as could be with no particles or sediment. The lacing left behind clung to the glass in thick, sticky sheets.

The aromatics are where things really start to take off. This is a very pungent beer; I could smell this across the room after I poured it into the glass and snapped a couple of pictures. There’s loads of citrus — lemons and oranges, and there’s a unique note of tropical fruit. There is a thick note of pineapple, and along with the color of the beer, it transports you to a hot sandy beach with waves crashing. But I digress, it is the start of winter… The balance was spot on, as there were some malts, notably caramel. I detected a slight hint of peaches. Southern Tier has a winner here, these aromatics were well-rounded, unique, and impressive.

Down the hatch and the drinker is immediately rewarded with a hop-citrus blast in the form of orange and lemons. The tropical fruits found in the aromatics never come out in flavor, instead a mellow note of pine says hello, and there’s a backbone of some toasty malts. The finish is IPA bitterness, but not overwhelmingly bitter (as is the problem with so many IPAs). For a 7.3% beer, this one is very understated and, well… pretty damn good. So good that my glass was half empty in about ten minutes and the higher ABV became a negative to me — this is a sneaky beer, extremely drinkable and refreshing but with an alcohol kick that could get you into some trouble. What a shame!

Hey, this is a very nice beer. If you’re looking for a balanced IPA that has good flavors without all that tongue crushing bitterness, ring the bell, because Southern Tier IPA is a winner. But fans of the bitter can rejoice, too; there’s some here and it provides a nice, long finish with a malty twist.

This is a victory all around.

Southern Tier IPA, 93 points. Price: $8.99 US for six pack.

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