I poured a 22oz bottle into an official Southern Tier goblet. It was bottled on 5/1/2013. It cost $9.49 ($0.43 per ounce).
Appearance: Ink black body with a rather small, tan, frothy head which retains and laces well.
Smell: Fairly standard robust porter aroma of roasted malt and hints of chocolate and coffee.
Taste: Southern Tier brews such great beer that even when one doesn’t
deliver exactly as advertised, it still winds up being a pretty good
beer anyway. Plum Noir is a good example of what I mean as it’s intended
to be a imperial porter with plum flavoring and spices. The only
problem is I got neither of these characters, but the base beer is a
really enjoyable imperial porter, so I liked it anyway.
The taste is pretty familiar to porter drinkers: toasted malt coupled
with some mild dark fruit notes. There’s a fairly strong bitterness
through the middle, imparting a coffee or dark chocolate flavor and
finishes with accompanying flavors and a residual dryness. It’s a
satisfying, enjoyable taste as it has much more chutzpah all around than
your standard table porter. The chocolate flavor increases as the beer
warms. The only problem is I don’t get any plum flavor at all. I’m not
sure what the point was in brewing this beer with pureed plums and
naming it as such if the plums aren’t front and center.
Drinkability: I tend to get a little anxious when I have to drink an
entire bomber of an imperial beer solo. I worry it might be too hot or
too heavy to drink all at once. But with Southern Tier Plum Noir I was
pleasantly surprised just how easy it was to get down. The palette is
flavorful, but constrained. The taste doesn’t overwhelm, and the
mouthfeel is thick, but soft, smooth, and calm. There is a dry
aftertaste but it’s easily tolerable. And the 8% ABV is nowhere to be
found as there’s no warmth or distraction at all. Most definitely not a