06 January 2008

Southern Tier Big Red (NY)

I paid $5.49 for a bomber of ol' Big Red. Described as an "Imperial Red Ale," the labels says it's 9.5% ABV, 93 IBUs, and both kettled and fragranced with "reliable" Hallertau hops. It also says to drink this at 42 degrees, but I think I went a little warmer than that.

It pours orange/brown rather than red, and looks pretty thick. What aroma there is is slightly earthy, slightly citrusy (oranges?). For all the IBUs, Big Red is more malt bomb than hop bomb. It's sweet, slightly spicy and floral, I think, with some hops to frame it. The taste has a certain aspect -- I can't quite put my finger on it -- that reminds me of other Southern Tier brews, such as the summer seasonal Hop Sun. It's also fair to say that the high alcohol doesn't really come through. What would slow me down isn't the booze, it's the body, which is quite full and softly fizzed. This isn't a guzzler.

I found an article about the brewery which claims Big Red is the only ST imperial beer not to catch on. One problem may be the packaging: tractor on the label, "as dependable as your old grandpa's tractor." Does this sound enticing to you? Another possibility is that Southern Tier produces better beers in its imperial line. This isn't their best, but is a pretty fine beer nonetheless.

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