Saturday, October 06, 2007

Microbrew Review of Southern Tier Harvest Ale

I've enjoyed several craft beers from Southern Tier Brewing Company over the past year or so. I haven't had the pleasure of sampling them all yet, but my overall general impression is that this Lakewood, New York microbrewery produces some pretty carefully concocted craft beers. I've typically had some very good experiences and even those Southern Tier beers that I wouldn't necessarily rate at the top of my personal favorites list, those still wouldn't come anywhere close to being considered as bad beers.

Tonight's Southern Tier Brewing Company selection I've chosen to inbibe in is Harvest Ale, technically categorized as an English Style Extra Special Bitter ale. I've not had this one before so my curiosity was piqued when I spotted a couple of bottles in the local shop cooler.

I quickly poured Southern Tier Harvest Ale pretty aggressively into an unchilled pub glass and found a result of a pillow of fluff of about a finger in depth, but not very long lasting. After a couple of minutes it was gone. Lazy microbeads of carbonation sifted upwards through the dark yellow straw coloring. Not a bad looking microbrew, but nothing to write home about yet either. Let's move on though.

There's a mild, hoppy aroma to this beer. Makes me think "crisp and clean". It throws off a pleasant smell, but not overbearing. Not an astringent scent, just enough to make it interesting and tempting enough to tease for a sip. And sip I did.

The flavor of this craft beer stands out on its own. It's got a great level of hoppiness without going way over the top in citrus and bitters. A maniacal hop-head may not find this satisfying enough, but although I love hops and the bitter the better, I'm taking this beer for what it is, an English Style Extra Special Bitter ale. The beer does have a mild layer of malt backing that truly helps the follow through and makes it a very easy beer to drink and put away(I guess I'd say the "drinkability is good").

It's a very smooth and enjoyable micro brew and Southern Tier's Harvest Ale doesn't have any drastically noticeable weaknesses in flavor as far as I can tell. I'd describe this as a well rounded balance from all players in the taste of this microbrew with no one single factor taking away from the total presentation. Another point I noted was that the mouthful was excellent. There was very little in the way of disconcerting aftertaste and I was also a little surprised that this beer didn't taste quite as thin as it looks in the glass (not that it looked that thin, just that the taste was a little "thicker" than I thought from just looking at it).

I would rate Southern Tier Brewing Company's Harvest Ale as a winner. It's no hop bomb but offers enough hoppiness to keep the true hopheads interested while making itself reasonably accessible to the lesser microbrew experienced crowd. It's a well made craft beer that crosses lines and allows many levels of microbrew drinkers to enjoy it and at 5.7% alcohol by volume, this beer will allow just about any beer drinker to enjoy a couple of these in one sitting. Almost a session beer.

In my humble opionion, I'd rate Southern Tier Brewing Company's Harvest Ale a 7.25 out of 10.00. Harvest Ale is a far above average beer that I'd recommend to anyone who appreciates a well thought out and handily crafted beer. I'll be having this microbrew again, and probably very soon!

You can find more reviews of new microbrews and fun microbrew and craft beer related info at Microbrew Review or My Squidoo Lens. Check out Summer Microbrew too!

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