Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Southern Tier Chautauqua Brew

Southern Tier is known for making big, ballsy, bold-tasting beers. Seems to me they're able to take any style and imperialize it and it tastes great. But what would happen if they tried to do the exact opposite - take an overtly pedestrian, generic style and brew it within that style? That's the case with their Chautauqua Brew - a small, drinker-friendly golden ale that weighs in at only 4.7% ABV (their lightest beer by far). Would they be able to re-invent the wheel or would this beer be exactly what it's meant to be - generic? Let's find out....

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (627) - Albany, USA - MAY 17, 2011
Received two 12oz bottles in a trade (thanks, Ryan!). I poured them into a Southern Tier tumbler (one at a time, of course).

Appearance: Lager-like with dark gold/amber hue. Very clear with much carbonation present. Forms a small, white, soapy head that mostly dissipates but actually leaves some lacing on the glass - nice!

Smell: As soon as I popped the top I noticed a very lager-like scent to this beer. A cleaner, milder macro lager scent with a touch of honey-like sweetness.

Taste: Since Southern Tier is known for taking certain beer styles and imperializing them, I was extremely curious if they’d be able to do the reverse. They categorize Chautauqua Brew as an amber ale - which is usually a very hop-forward beer style not unlike an IPA. I was quite surprised upon taking my first sip and realizing this beer was much more along the lines of a Schlitz or Genny Cream Ale.

There’s not much to truly taste here. It’s akin to a lager without the crispness or sharp edge. There is a noticeable taste of grain and a touch of spice from the hops. I do notice a very subtle apple-like sweetness in the finish often found in English bitters, but it’s not enough to carry the rest of the palate. Additionally, honey and tea leaves can also be found in the palate - but only if you really pay attention to them. There’s nothing particularly off-putting about the palate, although it does become a little tangy as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Crisp at first, but quickly becomes tepid. On the heavier side of light-bodied with a soft, wet, texture. Clean finish.

Drinkability: This is a deliberately small, mild beer and while it may not be delicious it’s very refreshing and highly quaffable. The tepid body and lack of flaws make it very drinker-friendly. And at only 4.7% ABV it’s highly sessionable too. A great beer to bring to a picnic or BBQ in the summer and would work well with snacks.

Overall, this is an okay, easily tolerable beer and a great alternative to a macro lager. An ideal transition beer for BMC drinkers as well. I just wish it wasn’t only sold in one county in western New York.

Grade: 5/10

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