What’s up with the weather folks? I sure don’t know. Last week here in good old Canton, Georgia we were hitting the nineties, above average for this time of year, but this is the South, after all. A week later and we’re plunging down to 40 at night and low sixties during the day. So you’ll forgive me if I accidentally thought winter had returned and popped open a bottle of Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale. Hey, if Old Man Winter is going to stick around this long, the least he can do is buy me a beer.
Anyway, who says winter beers are only good for the winter? I have a habit of keeping a few around for the summer months just for fun. Each July, I crack a few open for an annual Christmas in July celebration, too. Southern Tier’s Old Man Winter didn’t quite make it that far, but a bottle did hang around in my beer fridge until Mid-May anyway.
Let’s talk about the beer. Here’s what Southern Tier says about it:
With the onset of winter, the brewer’s mind turns to providing warmth. For our winter seasonal, we offer a rich and complex amalgam of hops and barley that will put the feeling back in your toes and lift your spirits above the snow. OMW throws a deep and inviting hue with a thickness that clings to the glass and the warmth of an open flame. Because of its high alcohol content, Old Man is a heady brew that encourages sipping and pondering its essential richness. Drink it fresh now, or cellar a few bottles to see how this old man becomes wiser with age. 7.7% abv • 16.8ºL • Old Ale
And let’s see what I think:
Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale pours to a rich mahogany color with a medium sized creamy head formation and a dark fruity raisin and prune nose. The beer is complex in the palate, with toasted nuts, a hint of chocolate, the aforementioned raisin, and a bit of caramel appearing as I sip. What’s different here, though, are the hops. There are a lot of them, and they emerge early on in all their big, bitter citrusy glory. They intensify into the finish, where they deposit a long, lingering grapefruit bitterness on the tongue.
What I really like about this beer is the interplay between the rich, dark malty notes and the deep, citric hop bitterness. I just love dark IPAs, which is what this seems to be like. Indeed, when I first sipped it on draft it reminded me a bit of Sierra Nevada Celebration with some dark malt thrown in. The brewery calls this an Old Ale, and some of the dark fruity malt flavors might support though. It would be the hoppiest version of the style I’ve encountered if taken as such.
I first enjoyed Old Man Winter on draft at Taco Mac in November of 2010, but tonight I’m sipping a 12-ounce bottle roughly six months later, and it’s held up nicely indeed. The brewery recommends laying down a few bottles just for fun, and I imagine it could keep even longer should you like to test that. Perhaps until next year, to compare with a fresh-brewed bottle? Why not.
I got a six-pack at Total Wine for about $8, making this one of the better values in the Southern Tier lineup by far.
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.