Beer Review 0411: Southern Tier Hop Sun Wheat Ale

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Southern Tier Brewing Company have been in the beer business since 2002, when founders Phineas DeMink and Allen Yahn started the brewery with the goal of reviving small batch brewing. At first, this goal was a reality — using equipment gained from the purchase of Old Saddleback Brewing Company, various brews were distributed in and around the Lakewood, New York area. The distribution circle quickly expanded to New York City, and then to the entire New York state. Small batch, not so much.

That’s what happens when you make good beer. The rest, as they say, is history. Since 2009, the brewery has continually expanded, and the bottling line at Southern Tier can crank out 10,000 bottles per hour. The company’s brews are now distributed in about half of the United States and several foreign countries.

Hop Sun is a summer seasonal for the brewery, and is an American Wheat Ale brewed with three types of malts and one variety of hops. Coming in at 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume), this beer has been brewed since 2004 and is available in six-packs.

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The pour kicked up an average size, bright white head that was soapy and fast diminishing. Hop Sun was yellow-golden in color, with a very lightly hazy body — not cloudy like a typical wheat beer — and had no particles or sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind beefy, patchy sheets in the wake of each sip.

The aroma is where this beer really shines; this was much hoppier than I anticipated, and that’s a good thing. There’s a nice, fruity, citrus aroma going on here featuring orange peel and lemon, and a nice backing by the grainy, wheat malt. There’s some minor notes of cereal grain, and saltine crackers, along with a fresh loaf/bready sweetness.

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Compared to the aromatics, Hop Sun is a let down on the palate — it’s grainy, wheaty up front with just a touch of hop flavor in the form of some lemon peel. Along with that very minor hop flavor is just a touch of bitterness, which serves the ultra-clean finish well. Just as you swallow this beer, all the flavors are gone, leaving a slightly dried palate that craves another sip. Crisp and refreshing, yep, this is a good summer beer, but it’s lax on flavor.

It always kind of peeves me when the aroma of a beer is better than the taste, because the two really should go hand-in-hand. Decent, if unremarkable, Hop Sun really isn’t hoppy enough for its name; if you’re looking for an easy drinker by the pool or for someone new to craft beer, this is a good option.

Southern Tier Hop Sun Wheat Ale, 82 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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