stout is a readily available beer style by now, so if a brewery is
going to release one they need to do something to make it stand out from
the crowd. Southern Tier 2XPresso has some cache to it in that it’s a
strong milk stout base (at 7.5% ABV) and is also brewed with lemonpeel.
That’s not a spice you tend to associate with this style of beer.
Unfortunately, it’s a very subtle ingredient, but at the same time the
final product is still a solid, if familiar, coffee stout.
I poured a 12oz bottle into my official Southern Tier goblet. It was bottled on 12/10/14 and cost $3.15 ($0.26 per ounce).
Appearance: Deep brown/black hue, nearly opaque with some translucent
highlights. Pours to a small, tan, foamy head which retains and laces
Smell: Deeply roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Not sweet.
Taste: Some coffee stouts tend to taste like alcoholic iced coffee.
Others, like Southern Tier 2XPresso, are more like gourmet cold press
French roast espresso (or whatever the appropriate descriptor would be –
I’m not a coffee connoisseur). It starts out with a strong note of dark
chocolate; reminiscent of higher-end gourmet chocolate. Nearly as
bitter as it is sweet. Through the middle, the hops kick in with a firm
dry bitterness. On the finish the espresso character bursts through and
creates for a tasty coffee flavor that’s quite bitter but really bold
and refined. It’s only as the beer goes down that the lemonpeel emerges –
mostly as a subtle sensation on the aftertaste. Also, the lactose sugar
appears to be lacking as far as flavor goes; creating for a slight tang
or dairy sensation (that’s an ingredient used more for mouthfeel,
anyway, so it’s forgivable). Overall, this is the kind of palette that
you want in a coffee stout and to that end, this beer does its job well.
Drinkability: Southern Tier 2XPresso is one of those brews that’s not
quite intense, but more than just medium-bodied. At 7.5% ABV it has a
sturdiness to the body, but the mouthfeel is a bit thinner, more highly
carbonated, and less sticky or cloying than you’d assume. There’s no
alcohol presence to distract from the palette. It’s quite smooth and is
as satisfying as a Blackwater Series imperial stout, but without the
density and raw weight.