So I have mixed feelings about the Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York. The company, founded in 2002, has fast emerged as one of the more notable American microbrewers. A staggering array of specialty beers has helped the with that, and indeed I have found some of their brews to be impressive indeed, even if their staple beers are not always so impressive.
In the past few weeks, I had a chance to try their Old Man Winter Ale at my local Taco Mac watering hole. That beer was quite reasonable indeed at $6.00 for an entire pint, and quite tasty too. This past Sunday I passed on the Oat Imperial Oatmeal Stout; at $8.50 for a meager 11-ounce pour, this one was just a bit too arrogant for me.
Fortunately, a bomber bottle of Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale that I picked up at the local package store was a bit more reasonable. At $7.99 for the bottle, it's about average to slightly above average for that size package these days. And I found the beer to be rather good as well.
Southern Tier calls this beer "the antithesis of unearthly". It's a potent enough brew at 9% alcohol by volume, and a slightly bigger than average India Dark Ale. I think that makes it more sippable than quaffable, but there's nothing wrong with that at all.
Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale pours to a jet black color with a creamy but short-lived head formation and a spicy, piney hop nose. when I first popped the bottle cap off, I was mightily impressed with the piney hop blast that assaulted my nostrils. I get that in a less concentrated, but still impressive, sense when sniffing my glass.
Taking a sip, I get a big, chewy malt body that's much different from your average IPA. The caramel is there, to be sure, but it's masked by the roasty dark malts. Then the grassy, piney, minty herbal hops emerge, very aromatic and flavorful in their intensity. Their presence is augmented right on into the finish where they become very bitter indeed.
I've gone on record as being a big fan of Black IPAs, or India Dark Ales as they are sometimes called. I just love the marriage between aromatic, resiny hops and dark malts, and Southern Tier's version ranks highly in my book. It's a bit different than most and loses a bit of it's IPA character, I think, because of it's mammoth proportions. That said, this is a beer that i for one would certainly welcome again, perhaps as a nightcap on a cold winter's eve.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.