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Harvest Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

very good
590 Reviews
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Harvest AleHarvest Ale

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by John on 10-19-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 590 | Ratings: 1,679
Photo of fx20736
4.26/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 6 pack from AJ's Beer Warehouse on 8/22/15. Served cold in a Duvel Tulip.

Look: Burnished copper with a natural white head. decent lacing.

Smell: Peaches. Smells like canned peaches with a touch of pineapple juice.

Taste: a bitterness which is neither piney nor tropical fruit but some how a cross of both. Juicy, very juicy.

Feel: soft but solid. Enough carbonation.

Overall: tasty, juicy, yummy

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Photo of pat61
4.44/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: A brilliant amber pour crowned by a 1” sudsy and clingy white foam collar that recedes at a moderate pace. S: Resin, pine and grass. T: A hop forward beer with a firm, bready malt backbone. F: Medium body and carbonation. O: Very clean and smooth bitter with some noticeable bitterness.

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Photo of bobhits
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This is one of my favorite Southern Tier offerings.

ESB is an interesting labeling here. The beer has the body and color of an ESB. Decent, not great lacing.

Carmel malt and hops on the nose.

To me this is right at the intersection of pale ale, ipa and esb. Rich powerful flavors of from hops, and malt. Rich caramels for the cooler seasons coming (though it's july here guys, not a harvest time). However this drinks with a lot of IPA joy.

Bottom line, I like this one a good bit. It's a beer I pickup every year and do so without a second thought.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Forced to make notes due to an outlier rating:

Bready and buttery, with not much going on hop-wise and a lackluster balance. Shallow and simple. Some might even call it plain.

There's no harmony of texture to taste and it's not a gestalt beer, nor does it boast any intricacy, nuance, or subtlety of note. Drinkable but underwhelming.


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Photo of Jeffreysan
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle, 2013 edition, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, golden amber color with a half of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that covered almost the entire top of the beer.

Aroma: Very hoppy. Some notes of malt and freshly baked bread, but the predominate aroma is hops which makes sense as the label says that this beer is brewed with four (4) varieties of hops.

Taste: Like the aroma, the beer tastes predominately of hops, even to the point of being overpoweringly hoppy. There is quite a bit of caramel-like sweetness to try to keep the hops in check, but for my palate, it falls a little short. There’s also hardly any malt flavor to this beer, which makes me not a fan.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 6.7%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: I’m not too much of a fan of this beer. I’m not a hop head, far from it in fact, and for me this beer is too far in the hops side of the scale for me to enjoy. Hop heads should love it however.

12 oz bottle, 2014 edition, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, golden amber color with a half of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that covered almost the entire top of the beer.

Aroma: Very hoppy. Some notes of malt and freshly baked bread, but the predominate aroma is hops which makes sense as the label says that this beer is brewed with four (4) varieties of hops.

Taste: Like the aroma, the beer tastes predominately of hops, but there is quite a bit of caramel-like sweetness to try to keep the hops in check. Assisting the hops is a good amount of bready, toasted malt which imparts flavors of whole wheat crackers and toasted 7-grain bread.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 6.7%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: Wow! What a difference a year makes! Either Southern Tier has changed the recipe for this beer and amped up the malt presence while dialing down the hops, which I doubt, or my palate has really grown over the past year to be much more tolerant of hops, as I found this year’s edition to be really, really tasty!

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Photo of mchegash
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - 3.8/5
A quite clear amber color. NO carbonation is to be seen rising up in this beer...ok, well there are a few bubbles, but very little. Two fingers of head upon initial pour, and the head retention is decent, and there is some nice lacing.

Smell - 3.25/5
Pine-citrus hops. Not really what I was expecting with this beer.

Taste - 3.3/5
A sweet and creamy pine-citrus hop flavor. Maybe a tiny hint of malts. Overall, the taste is okay, but it basically tastes like a standard quality IPA.

Mouthfeel - 3/5
Medium-bodied, creamy, light carbonation.

Overall - 3.25/5
I picked up this beer because I saw in some random Internet article that this was one of "10 beers you need to have this fall". Well, that article was totally wrong. There is nothing special about this beer. It tastes just like a standard IPA, even though I don't think it's classified as such. I was disappointed by this beer.

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Photo of Taybeh
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%

A: bright pumpkin orange, 1 1/2 finger puffy white head
S: citrus (grapefruit, lemon, tart pineapple) and some caramel malt
T: like the nose, the caramel/toffee malt tones are there throughout, but this is pretty hoppy for the style; also some mineral/earthy notes on the edges and at the very end, and I can't figure out whether I like them or not.
M: pretty dry and bitter; a lot more lively and crisp than the typical round and mellow tones of most ESBs.
Overall: kind of an oddball, but enjoyable quaff taken on its own.

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Photo of redearth329
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

Draft in a pint glass.

Dim bar, hard to see, but head is really sticky and rings the glass permanently. Clear amber color.

Smells of grapefruit and some light herbal hops.

Solid malt backbone with a sort of oat-y note mid-palate. Lots of hop bitterness. Sort of like a hoppy Yuengling lager....

Medium to full-bodied. Light carbonation. Long finish.

Another solid offering from S.T., but nothing spectacular.

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Photo of mnrider
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz Brown Bottle.

A: Pours a murky dark copper color. Medium sized head. Thin but bubbly retention with little lacing. Still the color is very nice.

S: Cool and crisp with bitter hops. After the beer has sat for a bit sweet fruity malts come out. Also spicy with a bready aroma.

T/M: Biscuity. Smooth. Creamy. Sweet. Cool. Hops are earthy and bitter. Sugar with some sweetness. Medium bodied. Earthy bitter aftertaste. Very good taste overall.

O: I quite enjoyed Harvest Ale. Nice bitter taste with a balancing of malt sweetness, but not too much that it kills the hops.


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Photo of thedoubler55
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

A: Pours a tannish orange color with good transparency, not much of a head but mostly a nice off white ring around the top that left some nice lacing around the glass.

S: Smells like a lighter pumpkin beer from this brewery"pumking" some pumpkin in the nose and some hops as well, and slight lemon zest on the tail end.

T: Similiar to the nose with some fresh fruit going around as well, green apples and pears came to mind, pumpkin is there throughout the drink.

M: Medium bodied, high carbonation and a little dry.

O: Not a bad beer at all, simple drinker, and a more simple beer from this brewery which tends to make phenomenal brews, good taste and refreshing.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

355 ml bottle served cold into a pint glass. Purchased while in Buffalo. 450th full review. Looking forward to this one, while watching game 7 of the World Series.

Appearance - clear, orangey, yellow color. Topped by a finger or so of fluffy white head. Good retention even without a great deal of lacing. A couple foamy swarthy stay around on the sides of the glass.

Smell - citrusy mostly, a bit of lemon and pineapple. A floral earthy quality too. Inviting and pungent aroma.

Taste - good dose of hops and earthy bitterness which lingers throughout the tasting. A bit of a flowery taste as well.

Mouthfeel - smooth, light bodied, wet in the mouth that has a nice drying feel in the mouth after the fact. Moderate carbonation.

Overall - a fine bitter that is certain plenty delicious and enjoyable and the alcohol here is remarkably well hidden. A fine review for my 450th review.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: 4.0 - Slightly hazy reddish amber with medium-height, dense head.
S: 4.0 - Intense piney hoppiness. Sure this is an ESB and not a DIPA?
T: 3.75 - Bracingly bitter flavor with a load of grassy, piny hops, concluding in a very dry finish. I was hoping for malt to put in at least a slight appearance. Really, this is totally a double IPA.
M: 3.75 - Soft creamy texture, medium carbonation
O: 3.75 - Decent hoppy beer. Not what I was looking for from the description.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a copper color with some chill haze. The head is around a finger high, with an eggshell shade. It has a very foamy texture that leaves behind a nice ring of lacing on the glass, though the retention isn't impressive. (3.25)

Smell: Hoppier than the average ESB, and thank cripes for that. Gentle notes of grapefruit, pine, and flowers helps balance out the caramel-and-toffee laden malts decent. But even better (or worse, because I don't like ESBs - must...be...objective...), it still retains its ESB-ness. This smells like a mediocre IPA - and that means it smells like a solid ESB. (3.25)

Taste: The flavor profile is even hoppier than the aroma suggested. It starts off biting the palate with grapefruit and apricot - and immediately, I have a nitpick. The hoppiness is too acidic and biting, coming off slightly dishsoapy. On the otherhand, it finishes with a subtle upsurge of caramel malt, and even an estery touch. I'm even picking up some tobacco flavor on occasion. The whole time I'm sipping it, I'm glad its imbalanced favoring the hops, rather than the other way around (a problem that plagues a quite a few ESBs). Cut out the slight detergent flavor, and I'd score it even higher. (3.5)

Mouthfeel: Very crisp for the style, and - despite the prevalent malt backbone - dry too. It's bigger than many in the style, and yet more drinkable as well. Though it should be said, carbonation is above average. I don't really care, however. (3.5)

Overall: There are quite a few IPAs on the market that come off like weak amber/ESB ales - this one is the opposite. ST could have called this a fall IPA and I wouldn't be too hard on it. I'd gladly drink it again, and I don't even like ESBs. (3.5)

3.44/5: Why aren't more ESBs this hoppy?

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Photo of bubseymour
4.3/5  rDev +10%

Nice dark copper clear body with small head. Very sweet and hoppy scents. Not of the citrus variety though. Taste is very flavorful and give quite a pow. Nice sweet malt balance to the hop flavorings. Hops lean towards pine. Slight bitter finish but really fairly subtle and ok by my preference. Very high ABV for an ESP variety beer but this works just fine. Definitely would revisit if presented opportunity.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%

Clear medium amber pour coupled with a dash of dark ruby and with a good head. Retention is normal, lacing is above normal. Very nice nose of blended hops (citric, tropical and a touch of dank pine) over a light biscuit. Light medium body with a smooth texture. Slightly above normal carbonation with a nice effervescent finish. Very nice balanced flavor profile that is complex. It begins with a rush of hop flavor - the citric and tropicals lead then flow into a dank note that is much more prevalent than suggested in the nose. The middle is a mild bitterness over biscuit, with a touch of caramel, light sweetness. The finish somewhat dry, but leaves you with the classic English ESB flavors and bitterness over a fading light biscuit. The 6.7% alcohol is completely hidden in this outstanding ESB.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%

12 oz.

Pours a deep clear golden, eggshell film for a head retains very well.

Smells of rich caramel malts and a floral hoppiness.

Flavor is of biscuit malt and some lightly floral hoppiness.

Medium body with tingly carbonation tingly carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

This is a disappointment by Southern Tier standards. It's just not as good as a lot of their other stuff. That said, it's still Southern Tier, so it's still very good and definitely worth trying. It's just not on par with their admittedly high standards.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%

12 oz bottle poured into a shaker pint.

Golden with 1 finger of white head that dissipates slowly. Excellent clarity with lively carbonation.

Grapefruit, pineapple, pine, and caramel.

Firm biscuit and caramel malts along with some toasted bread. Grapefruit, pine needle, and hints of pineapple. Dry resin sticks the finish along with some bright florals.

Medium bodied, smooth, semi-dry, and juicy with a medium bitterness.

Bitter and juicy yet well malted. A strange but good "ESB."

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%

A: Dark gold/rusted orange. Fairly dull looking. Nice 1 inch off-white creamlike head. Strong lacing accents. (3.75/5)

S: Sweet fruity flavors are dominant. Hoppy and bright orange, very resinous. Grassy, light caramel sweetness (4.5/5).

M: Light to medium bodied; low carbonation. Robust but smooth (4/5)

T: Pale malts, biscuity flavor second to citrus flavors of grapefruit and orange. Grassy and hop forward with moderate pine bitterness (4/5).

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Photo of Karibourgeois
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Clear orange copper pour with a small and airy white head. Really nice citrusy aroma. Very light flavor that has piney hops balanced out by a nice grainy caramel malt.

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

12 oz. bottle poured into a Flying Dog goblet (DOB: 7/10/14)

A: Slightly hazy bronze body with a one finger white head that stays for just a bit. No lacing.

S: Very easy drinking with a quick hop punch that is just there for a second or two. Otherwise, it is just a smooth ESB.

T: I've been thinking of only pumpkin beers for the fall, so I was surprised to not get any pumpkin or spices at all. This is more like the falling leaves,

M: Nice smooth carbonation, that seems like it might be rough but stays velvety throughout.

O: This is definitely on the higher end of ABV for an ESB, which helps the flavors out a lot. Good, but I went in with wrong expectations (pumpkin beer). That is why they need to label a style outside of Harvest, Special Ale and Seasonal.

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Photo of DuaneL
4.75/5  rDev +21.5%

A marvelous concoction. If you like this, then give Fegley's Always Sunny American Pale Ale a try - which I believe is truly closer to this ESB style.

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Photo of Pahn
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Mini review from phone;

4.5 Appearance: great lacing

2.5 Smell: no aroma whatsoever

3.75 Taste: pleasant herbal hoppiness. Love the dry finish

4.75 Mouthfeel: beautiful. very dry, good carbonation with just a bit of candybar chewiness. Love

3.75 really good beer lovers beer. Nothing showy but the mouthfeel, but i would have another

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Photo of TeamMathis
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Appearance: Copper. Nice frothy white head (sudsy) turns into decent lace.
Smell: Fruity citrus, bit of grapefruit, and mainly pine.
Taste: Pepper, (salty?), light citrus, bitter pines.

I think this is a great. It has a nice, subtle sweetness to the smell which is then complemented by a good, bitter piney taste. A very nice seasonal offering indeed. I would get this again.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. 2014 edition. Sampled on August 9, 2014.

It does not look bad with its orange-amber pour and modest of-white head. Great clarity.

The aroma tends to be more hopped up than I expect from an autumn brew. Citrus and floral hops mainly. A modest breadiness.

The body is medium.

The taste begins briefly with a breaded, toasted malt sensation bu the bitter hops take over in short order. Lingering bitter bite. It was not bad.

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Photo of GOBLIN
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Fantastic beer all around ! I look forward to this every year and never hesitate to pick up a sixer every fall . . . hands down one of my favorite fall brews. This is an interesting one because although it holds on to it's ESB roots and at it's heart it is an English bitter it has also collided with a hoppy ipa. So . . . in short it's a hoppy ESB.

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Harvest Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 590 ratings.