Southern Tier Imperial Iniquity

I've had Southern Tier beers before, and the two times have been split - one very good and one very not good. I've also had black ales before, and the results have been generally good. So, I don't know what to expect from this one. I certainly hope to like it, but a brewery with a checkered past does not inspire confidence.

The head is never all that big, and it only leaves a few orphan bubbles bobbling on top and a ring around the sides of the glass. With so few bubbles, it's nice to see that the lacing on the sides is still pretty significant as the beverage goes down. The color is pitch black - like a stout. The aroma is of sweet, smoky malt and a lot less hops than I would expect from the average ale.

First sip is pretty damn good. It is very, very smoky with some oatmealy and coffee hints laying around with caramel and even some toffee peaking out. It's actually very good. It definitely smacks of porter more than anything, and even though I've had these before, I find myself wondering if I could really tell the difference between a black ale and a porter.

Tip-in is a smoky start with toasted malts and heavily cooked oatmeal. The middle hits with some floral hops and carbonation with the oatmeal starting to get scorched into a more coffee taste. As the finish hits, there is a well-tamed bitterness that is held back expertly by the malt. There is a blooming of the flowers from the hops as the taste starts to fade.

Bottom Line: A delightful beverage, indeed.



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