09 March 2009

Old Man Winter Ale

Rating: 8.1
Brewery: Southern Tier (Lakewood, NY)
Glass: Pint
ABV: 8%
Seller: The Foodery (Philadelphia, PA)
When Enjoyed: 6 March 2009

Brewers attack a winter ale in a variety of ways. Some go for a spicy, hoppy amber, like Goose Island's Lake Effect, to warm our souls and tantalize our taste buds. Some go malt crazy and produce a stout that packs in the coffee and chocolate, to complement the tons of coffee and chocolate we're already consuming during the holidays, Lagunitas' Cappucino Stout comes to mind. Southern Tier's Old Man Winter is certainly in the malty category.

Stylistically speaking, Old Man Winter might fit the loose definition of a porter, but it's makers have stuck in the Old Ale category (an even looser affiliation). It is very dark, the malts are prominent, but it doesn't carry the same density as a stout. It has a smooth pour, with some measure of carbonation, but not too jumpy. The head is thick and brown in color. The real star is the flavor. The malt complexion here is one that cuts both sweet and bright, with a hop content that is relatively high. The hops here are what really defines it as an Old Ale, allowing for the right bitter cut to a dark ale, and acting as a preservative that will allow it to age with some amount of grace. It is probably worth cellaring half of your six pack, if you're into that kind of thing.

The ABV is also on the high side, and with cellaring that will increase further. The real skill of the brewers comes with the unrecognizability of this beer's strength. We were both quite sruprised to find out this beer was at 8%, the alcohol taste is practically non existant. While there is nothing terribly suprising about this brew, there are certainly more interesting Old Ales to be found, Old Man Winter is sure to please on a cold winter night in.

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