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
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