Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Southern Tier Brewing Company - Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale

Tonight we're venturing to the southwestern corner of Upstate, to the town of Lakewood, NY.  This is the home of Southern Tier Brewing Company, a microbrewery that's been with us since 2002 and produces a wide variety of beer styles.  In addition to their year-round offerings, they produce seasonal beers such as a wheat beer, ESB, an Old Ale named 'Old Man Winter' and 'Pumking', an extra-strong pumpkin ale which I'll have to review when the time comes.  (I tried it last year and it's damn fine, let me tell you.)

This is the time of year when all those lovely, fresh springtime beers really come into their own.  The microbreweries start to release their Summer Wheat varieties and the world starts to shake off the burdens of wintertime.  American-style Pale Ales are a great style to complement the season, and Upstate has some really good ones for you to try.  Starting off with tonight's review, Phin and Matt's Extraordinary Ale.

Appearance is light golden - fairly clear, perhaps a slight chill haze but it has an impressive clarity.  Head was not initially apparent, but upon agitation a moderate white head developed with decent lacing. 

Aroma was great for a Pale Ale - clear, fresh hops with some biscuity specialty malt discernible underneath.  Some apricot-like fruit scent was detectable as well.  Surprisingly complex for such a light beer - and I do mean that in a positive way.  The freshness of the hop aroma suggests that the brew might have been dry-hopped.

Flavour - the hop bitterness is definitely present, but it's not overpowering and is excellently balanced by the malts used (including, as I mentioned above, a definite biscuity malt flavour).  Some fruity esters discernible, and the finish is a delightful mix of bitter hops and good, clean malts.

Mouthfeel - the beer's got a medium-light body, with moderate carbonation, and finishes very smoothly.  It definitely leaves you wanting more.

Overall, this was a really good Pale Ale.  The brewers boast that this beer uses 3 types of hops and 3 types of malts - they've obviously worked hard to choose varieties that complement each other well, and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable, eminently drinkable brew. 

Now for the scores:

Appearance - 4/5
Aroma - 4/5
Flavour - 4/5
Mouthfeel - 4.5/5

Overall, 4.125/5.  A great session beer for the season!

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