Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Beer Review: Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
Beer Advocate: A-
When I think of oaked beers, I think of stouts or barley wines, not IPAs. It's not typical of the style at all.
I have had the un-oaked version of this before and the oaked on draft ($10 a snifter. Yow.), so I wanted to see how it managed in bottle format. The first thing I noticed was how beautiful of a beer it is. Though it doesn't pour much of a head, it is the most perfect transparent orange-amber color. Not a bit of cloudiness.
It certainly does not smell like an IPA. Rather than hops, the first things you smell (other than the alcohol, which is no wonder at 11%) is the oak and caramel. It smells sweet, almost like a barley wine.
The taste is much of the same. Unlike what you would expect from an imperial IPA, the hops don't factor in at all at first. You get a lot of malt-forward sweetness and a good deal of caramel and vanilla from the oak aging. It's not until you swallow that you get a small bit of bitterness from the hops.
It's a thick and syrupy beer. Not particularly refreshing, but I'm sitting inside with the AC on, so it's no biggie.
You know, at first I didn't care for this beer, but time the bottle was empty I wish I had more. It's not the the most perfect IPA I've ever tasted. In fact, it strays far, far from the category in many distinct ways. Despite this, it is delicious. If I was hankering for a big IPA, would I necessarily pick this one off the shelf? Maybe, maybe not. If I was looking for something different, though, or a winter time IPA, I would definitely think long and hard about it.