I'll admit it: my first experience with a Southern Tier beer was less than favorable. That beer, Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale, was anything but extraordinary, and way overpriced to boot. So, I think I might have gone into my second Southern Tier brew, Southern Tier IPA, with a bit of a preconception.
But, far be it from me to judge a brewery on just one beer, and so I did try to put that notion out of my head when sampling this Lakewood, New York brewery's IPA. Southern Tier produces a large number of beers and a slew of India Pale Ales, though many of them are seasonally available or specialty beers bottled in 22-ounce bomber bottles. Southern Tier IPA is their year round, every day drinking IPA. It weighs in at 6.9% alcohol by volume and comes in six-packs of twelve ounce bottles.
Southern Tier IPA pours to a bright amber orange color with a thick rocky head formation and a spicy grass and citrus fruit nose. Carbonation is good, and a steady stream of bubbles rises from the bottom of my glass progressing to join the head like lemmings going over a cliff. A thick layer of Brussels Lace follows the liquid all the way to the bottom of the glass.
Taking a sip, the first thing that strikes me are the hops-they're big and aromatic right away, grassy and herbal, then become a bit resiny and citric as they fade into the long, dry, very bitter hop finish. Somewhere along the way from the first hint of hops to the puckering finale, a bit of caramel malt pokes through, too.
The first time I sampled a bottle of Southern Tier IPA it had been preceded by a Victory Hop Devil. Admittedly, that's not an enviable position for any beer in the IPA family. My impressions then were less than favorable in comparison, but to be fair the bottle I'm drinking as I type is the first beer to pass my lips this evening. Now, I find this to be a very credible IPA, and a second bottle served quite nicely to wash down a few slices of homemade pepperoni pizza, heavy on the spicy pepperoni and gooey mozzarella.
I still think the beer is overpriced at $9.49, especially since I can get the aforementioned Hop Devil for a buck a six-pack less. But I'd not turn one of these down at a party, for sure.
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.