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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA

Now we're talking... after a week of travel and branching out with beer varieties I'm less familiar with, I'm taking a couple of days to revel in my favorite style... the IPA.  First up is a unique looking beer from a brewery I've never tried, Southern Tier Brewing Co.  There isn't much I know about this brewery, but an IPA from the East coast (well, New York) sitting on the shelf of a local market was enough to sell me on giving it a try.  Which brings us to the Southern Tier Brewing Unearthly Imperial IPA.

Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA is an  ever-so-slightly hazy red-orange with a thick, sticky head and a body big enough to suspend bubbles.  The nose was dominated by a pleasant citrus and hops similar to Pliny the Elder, but also carried an undertone of sweet and smoky malts with hints of whiskey.

The front of Unearthly was all crisp, sweet grapefruit goodness that rapidly thickened and darkened in the mouth to the subtle taste of sugar cookies and caramelized sugar.  Unearthly ended on a lingering note of the bitterness of burnt sugar and a unique buttery mouth-feel.

As a warning, Unearthly Imperial IPA truly earns the "Imperial" title with an 11% ABV (oddly enough, the site lists 9.5%) while being startlingly easy to drink and never feels too big.  After 22oz, prepare to feel a little... heady.  Although just short of the mark of being as refined and drinkable as Pliny the Elder, Southern Tier deserves a nod for how dangerously easy Unearthly is to drink when one takes the additional 35%+ alcohol content into consideration.  This is a truly exceptional beer that I hope all beer lovers try at least once.

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