Yes, I’ve been on a bit of nostalgic bent this summer, I know. From my recipes, to travels, to the the articles I’ve written, everything seems to have a bit of a “re-visited” quality of late. Even many of the beers I’ve been reviewing are not new discoveries but rather undocumented experiences. As with my previous review of Hoptical Illusions, Southern Tier is a return to firsts and perhaps the second IPA I knowingly tasted. Dogfish Head, for those that are curious, was the first … and a pretty great first at that.
Having said that, our memories are clearly built around the experiences we’ve had to that point and where we are in our lives when they happen. That’s the reason schools used to be built further away from our homes and the snowfalls used to be so much deeper … and TV used to be better. It’s the reason, I remembered this being a better IPA when I only had a couple others to which to compare it.
Now when I taste it, its golden waters are as uncharacteristic of an IPA as is the lack of citrus … especially for an IPA that used “4 varieties of hops and 4 types of malts.” What is most remarkable is that for a beer that weighs in at 7.3% ABV, this actually has a very watery taste from beginning to near the end. Kudos that they don’t hide this with a bunch of carbonation – the carbonation is actually near perfect which means you can taste the subtle malts that were used and pull out the bitterness of the hops — but there is not much else by way of flavour except a bunch of pine. While the beer becomes more flavourful as it warms, all this does is bring out the same malts and bitters. Indeed, the most prominent flavour is probably the yeast. Instead of something ‘yummy,’ this the flavours remind me of a beer I drank occasionally as a “young person” (don’t go there readers) which was then called Carling Extra Old Stock, a “malt liquor” beer that was euphemistically called “high-test” because it was 5.6% ABV and which gave it a greater kick than the mediocre other mass-produced Canadian beers of the day (keep in mind: this was before the craft brew industry existed). Long story, but this malty, slightly sweet, yeasty and bitter imbued beer reminds me a lot of this beer … and that’s not what we call a good thing.
However, whatever you call it, I wouldn’t call this an IPA, English or American, and I lament that I went “back” to purchase this again. Learn from my mistake and leave this beer to back of the shelf and buy something else.
Stats: IPA. 7.3% ABV. Lakewood, New York.
Colour: Dark gold.
Mouth Feel: Low carbonation, light and watery with residual bitters.