Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sampling Southern Tier

I've been fond of picking up single bottles recently and one place I've been finding them (chilled) is at the Liquor Stop in Lisle, Ill, just west of I-355 on Ogden Avenue. I also find single bottles of craft brews at Famous Liquors in Lombard, Ill. That's where I picked up bottles of Neil & Phin's
Extraordinary Ale from Souther Tier along with the brewery's India Pale Ale (IPA).

First up for sampling was the crystal clear, golden Extraordinary Ale, sporting a loose meringue-like head and tingly carbonation, along with a spicy, cedar hop nose. This is followed by a crisp toasted malt flavor, which leads to a lightly bitter dry and peppery finish. The Extraordinary is a very delicious golden ale or American pale ale that is easy to drink, yet quite tasty with a very pleasant hop character.

The Southern Tier IPA, on the other hand, is a touch deeper in color (light amber) than the Extraordinary Ale and kind of it's big brother. It is still quite drinkable, but slightly less sessionable due to its increase in alcohol content. There's less of a head, but what there is creates some good lacing. The nose is complex and spicy; more complex than the Extraordinary, but I can't pin down any particular flavor. It's a touch sweet and honey-like up front with moderate hoppiness towards the middle along with sweet caramel malt. The finsh is fairly assertive making a for a fairly hearty ale. This beer is good, but it strikes me as not being brewery fresh. Fortunately, it reminds me of Goose Island IPA which I can find fresher in my area. This is a beer that I could definitely enjoy out at a pub, but my fridge will probably stay stocked with GI IPA. Over at Beer Advocate, the Southern Tier is rated higher than the Goose Island, so perhaps a side by side tasting is in order, or perhaps my Southern Tier had a bit of age. I would like to compare them head to head.

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