Appearance: Chestnut brown to dark orange color; seemingly opaque but
very cloudy body. Forms a small, yellow, soapy head which dissipates but
leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.
Smell: One of the sweetest IPAs on the nose: pure orange juice
concentrate plus confectioner’s syrups. A hint of solvent as it warms.
Taste: Oak aging is a process you tend to associate with stouts, but it
can be done with imperial IPAs if the goal is to sweeten and soften them
and Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly is proof positive of that. This is
one of those beers that could be just as easily classified as a
barleywine and it’d be just as applicable. Intense bitterness combined
with rich, dank, syrupy sweetness. Though not quite as extreme as a
"triple IPA" the actual palate is similar.
Intense bitterness right from the get-go, but coupled with strong
confectionary sweetness to keep it well-balanced throughout (in fact, it
might even be more sweet than it is bitter). Toffee and butterscotch
are quite prominent in the palate, plus a slight buttery/lollipop taste
which imparts a hint of astringency. Perhaps this is due to my bottle
being nearly six months old, but the hop bitterness certainly hasn’t
faded. A delectable beer for sure, but nothing that’s truly
mind-blowing. So much better than average, but not quite world class.
Drinkability: For such an intense brew, you’d think Southern Tier Oak
Aged Unearthly would be a beast that’s difficult to tame, but it’s
remarkable just how easily drinkable this beer is. The oak aging does
bump up the sweetness, but at the same time seems to take the edge off
the hops. Though very sweet, the body is not sticky or chewy and the
aftertaste is quite clean with just a touch of sticky bitterness. At
9.5% ABV I had no problem drinking an entire 22oz bottle myself as there
wasn’t much alcohol presence of effect (at least not right away). All
in all it’s a nice alternative to a barleywine.