Southern Tier Harvest Ale

Now is one of the few times of the year that you will be able to buy the Southern Tier Harvest Ale, a seasonal autumnal ale with flowery and bitter hops. They call it and “Extra Special Bitter,” but to me it’s more of a “wet-hop” harvest-style IPA.

Actually, I’ll let the brewery themselves describe it.

Harvest Ale is our celebration of the changing weather and the sowing of hops and barley that will be used in our upcoming brews. We usher in the fall with a classic English style Extra Special Bitter of the highest order. Deep ruby in color with an even deeper hop flavor… in fact, we throw fresh English hops into every brewing vessel, then dry hop after fermentation to impart a zesty kick. This beer has real hop character that mingles with fresh malted barley for an experience that will make you wish it were fall year ‘round.

The only thing I would disagree with in Southern Tier’s own assessment is that it pours a ruby red. In fact, it really pours a very clear — almost transparent — golden yellow color. You could watch tv through this thing just as you could through a Coors light.

But that’s where the similarities end. The first whiff is severely bittersweet hops. The fresh “wet hops” used to make this beer give aromas that are flowery and sweet, as well as woody and bitter. And somewhere in between are hints of grapefruit and orange which add a more complex citrus element to the nose. It’s one of the most aromatic beers around.

The taste has a more upfront malt backbone: caramel malts that are both sugary sweet and lightly roasted to add more balance to this beer. The hops are more bitter at first, like liquid pine, spruce and oak. But as it warms up, more estery, flowery flavors are unlocked. The hops simply run the gamut. Combine this with a gritty but easy-drinking finish, and you have — as I have right now — an empty glass. I’m not sure where it all went but I’m going to grab another one.

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~ by William H on August 28, 2009.

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