Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly IPA

Be not mistaken by the label but this is not just a typical India Pale Ale, it is an IMPERIAL! My favorite style shows up unexpectedly, or should I say unearthly? The shimmer and shine of this bomber caught my attention at Ramsey Liquors here in the dirty Jerz. The price of $8.99 almost deflected my heart away from this ale, but the hop wearing a crown on the label was like love at first site. Let us see what the brewers from Lakewood, NY created in this limited release imperial.

Appearance: Pours a 1/2 pink finger of head that dissipates to a thin cover after it settles for a minute (as if you were skiing/snowboarding down the mountain and you come up to a patch of snow with dusting on top and then you realize it is a major ice spot and panic, leading to a monster yard sale wipe out). That comparison is basically how I feel right now, scared but anxious to try it. You can attempt to see through your glass but you will end up squinting due to the faint hop cloudiness. This goldenrod-brown-orange-yellow-ish ale is secretly alive as you watch the micro carbonation bubbles gasp for air at the top of the glass.

Smell: Intense wafts of vanilla bean from the "[oak aged]-ness" character that masks all else. Hazel-nutty malts and spicy/perfume-y hops (although my hop sense might be off from the overpowering vanilla bourbon tasting barrel. Reminds of smell of an Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewing.

Taste: Butterscotch candy that has been spiked with alcohol melting in your mouth. Can taste the bitterness of the hops finally...over-ripened pineapple in combination with floral hops. Vanilla sweet malts leading the charge as the smell still, but not as overpowering as in the Smell category.

Mouthfeel: Goes down smooth as velvet, but that alcohol after bite stings as you let the beer mellow in your mouth and even has an unpleasant alcoholic taste minutes after you take a sip. I feel like eating on pretzels and/or beer nuts, or wait GOLDFISH! to act as a palette cleanser. As it warms up to room temperature, the not pleasing aftertaste isn't as dreadful...reminds me of a sweety malty red ale finish.

Drinkability: Overall this beer is diffult to consume for me, as I slayed this bomber in an hour approximately. Not the hopgasm I expected for a DIPA. My experience with the oak aged beers has been borderline kindergarten (my favorite is oak aged yeti from Great Divide), but for me it ruined this beer. I would keep the Oak Aged style to stouts in particular, but then again, I need to gain experience points with this style before I can make that judgement call. It was definitely worth a try buying this for educating my beer brain, but I don't see myself getting it again (fell hophead Ryan had this on tap in Philly I was it?) 6/10 for me. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of the high octane beer (north of 10%abv), but I don't like when I clearly taste booze as I felt was the case with this ale: vanilla mellow sweet booze.

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