Friday, September 12, 2014

Southern Tier Cuvée Series 3

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (1173) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 12, 2014
Way back in February of 2011 I reviewed Southern Tier Cuvée Series 2 with a friend and it had been sitting in my fridge for six months at that point. This bottle of Southern Tier Cuvée Series 3 I fished out of my basement, but I can’t remember when or where I bought it or how much it cost. I remember the Series 2 being a huge beast, but this bottle of Series 3, though big, is quite tame. A complete malt bomb at this point as the hops have faded into obscurity (and the alcohol, but to a lesser extent). I’m sure there are still a few vintages lurking in the cellars of hoarders and if so I’d recommend breaking them out now because it’s drinking pretty well and I don’t see anything to be gained by waiting any longer.

I poured a 22oz bottle into an official Southern Tier goblet.

Appearance: Pretty burgundy/garnet color. Body is a little hazy and there’s no visible carbonation. Initially pours to a small, yellow layer of suds, but it fizzles away quickly and completely.

Smell: Very strong and sweet aroma with notes of dark fruits and confectionery flavors. Some mustiness present as well.

Taste: Southern Tier Cuvée Series 3 is actually a blend of Series 1 and 2 and is not actually an original brew. Both of those beers were gigantic barleywine-style brews aged in American and French oak barrels (what the barrels previously housed – I’m not sure). You could consider this an Old Ale or an American Strong Ale, but one thing you can’t consider it is a generic beer. It’s clear from the first sip that this is a beast of a beer. Mammoth sweetness right from the get-go; notes of dates, figs, rum-soaked raisins at the forefront. On the backend it turns into something less natural and more man-made with huge notes of toffee, caramel and butterscotch. Nothing noticeable in the way of hops, though, which I suppose is to be expected considering how old this bottle is. Alcohol also plays a part in the palette and creates for a dry astringency. There also seems to be some oxidation as I detect cardboard and maybe some metallic character as well. Regardless, the good flavors outshine the bad and make for a delectable beverage. Unbalanced and slightly flawed to be sure, but a tasty beer nevertheless.

Drinkability: After several years of aging, Southern Tier Cuvée Series 3 has mellowed nicely. There’s still significant warmth from the 11% ABV body, but it’s not exactly fire water. The carbonation has died down, but the beer is not completely flat. The mouthfeel is rather thin and slightly slick with a dry, pasty aftertaste. Still, I had no problem drinking an entire 22oz bottle solo, which is really saying something since I could barely finish only 8oz of a fresh vintage when it was first released. 
Grade: 8/10

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