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Imperial Cherry Saison - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial Cherry SaisonImperial Cherry Saison

Educational use only; do not reuse.

329 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 329
Reviews: 296
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 16.43%
Wants: 18
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  10.10% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bighuge on 06-07-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 329 | Reviews: 296 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.62/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours saison light yellow, with generous head, leaving some lace down the glass. aroma is some yeast, like an American saison brewed with aroma not to offend. Only secondary of cherry. The taste-saison, a bit above average carbonation, medium mouthfeel, the cherry taste is in the finish and aftertaste. Drying. Not a bad one.

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of brentk56
3.67/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a murky honey color with a modest head that drops quickly but leaves a few shards and dots of lace

Smell: Bready, with balsa wood and a vague maraschino cherry character

Taste: Opens with a bready element that is joined, mid-palate, by a slightly sour, horse blanket and fruit flavor - hints of cherry are not at all dominant; after the swallow, a dollop of clove and other herbacious medicinal flavors jump to the fore and linger

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This is one of those interesting beers that require some thought and engender discussion but ultimately, to my tastebuds, are not all that enjoyable

Thanks, Vancer, for the opportunity

Photo of BEERchitect
3.65/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A different take on a Saison style: where the dry Belgian character is apparent, the spicy hop notes are foregone for cherry flavor and wood-like spice.

The beer pours an accute and effervescent pour of light golden shades. Verbose carbonation fuels a spritzy and froathy head. Good retention and nice sticky lace on the glass further emphasize the classic characteristics of Saisons.

Aroma of light breads or crackers are layered with obvious cherry scents. Other rich notes of mild caramel and oak/wood give further intrigue that's not expected from the base style. Low on hop notes, the spicy/floral character doesn't show.

Flavors of rich bready/grainy malts give a crisp and refreshing taste while the tart cherry and wood-like tanin character accentuate dryness. The aftertaste brings out mild notes of almonds and almost vanilla-like roundness.

Creamy and airy early on because of the expounding carbonation, the beer has a fuller early palate than it actually is. As carbonation subsides, the beer makes a quick transition toward dryness, evaporation, and oaky-spicy tingle. -All leaving a memory of cherry, oak, and almond in finish and aftertaste.

A very nice Saison, where I'd like to see more authentic Belgian-like yeast contributions and earthy/spicy/floral hop presence. Then, the cherry additions can play more subtly in the background for added layers of complexity without commanding the stage.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.17/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sunny pumpkin orange with no hint of cherry red. The ivory colored crown is on the small side and looks nothing like Belgian or French saison foam. It melts slowly and is no great shakes when it comes to decorating the glass. All things considered, the appearance is disappointingly average.

The aroma gets it done in okay fashion thanks to the spicy esteriness of the Belgian yeast. It's odd that cherries aren't appreciated and the oak-aging is subtle at best. However, I've decided to judge the nose on what it is rather than on what it isn't.

Cherry Saison is decent beer in an American big beer kind of way, but there's no way in hell it's a saison/farmhouse ale. Or, if it is, it's an especially boozy one that is more crude than nuanced. Having said that, as CS warms, it develops a big, dumb, sloppy sort of charm... like a Saint Bernard that tries to hump your leg.

Slashing the ABV to 6.0% would improve things, but that would mean removing 'Imperial' from the bottle. There simply isn't enough flavor to completely bury the ethanol. Pale malt and malted white wheat can't do it, there aren't enough Magnum and Sterling hops to do it, there isn't enough cherry flavor to do it, and oak is still in the background.

Only the clove and white pepper spiciness of the yeast is able to assume a more prominent place on the list of flavors. Please don't drink this brew at the recommended temperature of 40 degrees. Only when it approaches (an estimated) 60 degress does it begin to come together at all.

The body/mouthfeel is good if you like them fullish, slightly sticky and zestily (but finely) carbonated. Don't expect the lightly silky, mouthfilling voluminousness of the world's best saisons. If you do, you'll be sorely disappointed.

I wasn't thrilled with Southern Tier's first foray into Belgian beer (Tripel) and I'm not thrilled with their second. Cherry Saison sounds better on paper than it tastes in the glass. When it comes to Belgian-style beer, I wish more American brewers would concentrate on tone rather than cranking up the volume.

Photo of Knapp85
2.95/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was really pumped to try this and I was let down drastically. I had a mindset of how this beer would taste and I was way off. This beer poured out a lightly hazy golden brew. The smell wasn't reay cherry at all... It was more on the funky side. I know that it's a Saison and it supposed to be like that but I guess the cherry I was looking for wasn't there. The taste was just not pleasing to me. I was upset that I opened this bottle just for myself and not a few people to try with me. The flavors that I was getting was a very tart cherry and lots of earthy herbal flavors. The mouthfeel was on the lighter side. I have to say that I will not be missing this beer since it's been retired.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.01/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a hazy, pale gold body with a thin, bubbly, white head.

Smell: Pale malts and a slight funky yeastiness, a touch of clove, and a very faint oak character. Cherries? Cherries? No cherries.

Taste: Ah, crap! That pick-up truck drove away with the cherry flavor. Grainy pale maltiness, some sweetness. Oh, some cloves, too. A bit of yeastiness and funk. Slight oakiness. Tiny hint of vanilla. Dry finish. Yeesh.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Mild carbonation. Somewhat sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Nothing but a bottle of confusion and deceit. Totally devoid of cherries! I demand a public apology from Southern Tier.

Photo of zeff80
2.68/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Poured out a clear, golden orange color with a small, off-white, one-finger head. It left minimal lacing.

S - It smelled of tart cherry and spicy yeast. Some caramel notes, too.

T - Very strong cherry flavor, a little like cherry cough syrup. There was some spicy yeast flavors.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A light to medium bodied brew.

D - This brew missed the boat for me. There were very little saison-like qualities, just a lot of over the top cherry flavor.

Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -15%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.17/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly cloudy, Southern Tier's Imperial Cherry Saison offers up a golden orange body that's amber in color (true amber - not copper) at around 11 SRM. The bright-white head is short and creamy, and holds fairly well. Lacing, however, is limited. It's an 8% beer to sure, but the head should be a bit better and the lacing far stronger.

The initial hit of cherry and wood in the nose is distinct and bright. It's a beautiful combination with the fruitiness of the cherry helping to soften the wood, and the spiciness of the wood helping to boost the cherry. It's complex and welcoming. There are some yeasty notes, as well as some additional spiciness. (NOTE: Do not make the mistake of drinking this beer too cold... let it sit to warm to 40?F as they suggests, and perhaps even 42 to 46. You will be rewarded!)

In the flavor, however, the cherry and wood remains a pretty brash combination at first. The fruit makes a very quick appearance at the tip of the tongue, almost appearing medicinal and false - there's a note of sugar to it, but there are some underlying notes that are unimpressive. Fortunately, in a way, it's then run roughshod over by the aggressive, lingering wood and spice (alcohol? hops? or wood?). Some more fruit then softens and takes on a greater breadth as it rises in a mushroom cloud just after mid-palate and into the swallow. Following that, the wood is brisk and sharp, and combined with the solid bitterness that backs it, it finishes raspy-dry. It's reminiscent in a way of cedar. Cherry does remain, but it's mainly pushed aside by the more masculine bitterness and spice. And on that note, it's certainly an aggressive saison, even as base beer, and I wonder how much of the spiciness is alcohol, and how much of it is yeast or woodiness?

It does soften after the first 1/4 of the glass however, as the palate adjust and becomes saturated, and that's when it shines! It really becomes a different beer! The fruitiness remains, but it becomes somehow secondary in a way, but still remains completely present... perhaps it just doesn't have the charisma of the wood and spice, and simply acts more as a cushion. It's always there though, helping to balance.

And that leads me to what makes this beer great - it's complexity and almost imbalance!!! It feels as if it's always leaning forward, just about ready to fall apart and topple - yet it maintains its shape and simply pushes you forward taste-wise, always looking for what's going to happen next.

For the beer lover - someone who's familiar with the saison-style and beers made with cherries and wood, this is really interesting. It's a very American twist that I think even the Belgians would welcome. For someone who's simply thinking "CHERRY" beer, however, I'd give it a pass.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 11/23/08 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a light gold color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of wheat, cherries, bananas, Belgian yeast, light malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste shows the typical effects of the oak-aging right away along with complimentary mild flavors of cherries, bananas and Belgian yeast. There's a mild hops presence, hearty but not too heavy malt character and a little bit on an alcohol sting. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: A little tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, not usually a big fan of these kind of beers but this one is decent and worth drinking for a while.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.65/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears in my sample glass with a slight hazed bright golden body, forms a nice egg shell white head that leaves fine lacing with each sip. Aroma tart cherry mild funky yeast edge with some alcohol and fruity phenolic characters with a good bit of cherry tannins to it. Flavor comes of with a touch of bubblegum esters from the yeast and mild funk. Tart with cherries evident fruit tannins thrown in add a complex dryness with the yeast components not amazing bud definitely solid. The dry finish is the only aspect that keeps the mouthfeel tolerable or the beer drinkable. Mouthfeel is medium bodied would be sticky sweet but a clean dry finish comes overs. Solid carbonation but definitely no a fine spritzy carbonation found in Belgian style Saisons. Drinkability is solid for what it is another big beer from Southern Tier, howevery they have not done well with Belgian style offerings this one does seem to pull it off much better than the triple with a nice cherry edge with yeast funk and a dry finish that is perfect for the summer weather. Living in Ohio waiting to try a bottled version, however I spyed this one at Bocktown in the Burgh.

Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a mildy foggy gold with a thin whitish head that. Nice dough nose. Smells like a saison, alright. Flavor is saison-ish! Sweet! Nice funky doughy thing. Noticeable spices. There is so little cherry on here, I probably wouldn't notice it if I hadn't already been informed about it. Feel is standard really. Definitely drinkable. Man I hate how most American breweries just totally jack up this style. But for once in a blue moon, it gets pulled off. Very nice.

Photo of jlindros
3.67/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BlessedBeBeer for cracking this.

Pours a hazy golden orange color with light fizzy head.

Nose has lots of fruit, apple, cherry, apricot, light golden sweet malts, touch of spice and citrus.

Taste is sweet as usual for Southern Tier, sweet malts, bit syrupy, golden malts, fruits again with apricot, cherry, apple, some cherry pit taste, touch of bitterness, sweet malty finish, and some booze on the finish.

Mouth is med bodied, touch of booze, lower carb.

Overall not bad but not great, overly sweet as usual, fruity but not what I was expecting, the sweetness balances the booze well though.

Photo of Slatetank
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of russpowell
4.41/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this an extra from rciesla, mad props to Ryan! Hazes a bit at the bottom, nice oily/vicious sheen, some lacing & head retention

Pours a chilled hazed apricot with 2 fingers of beige head.

S: Apple skins by the bushel, peach,& other orchard fruits, plus honey

T: Appleskins, honey, lemony hops, a bit of passion fruit & some sour cherry up front. Dryness, cherry pits, & a strong kiss of boozeyness & more peaches as this warms. Finishes a bit sour, a bit green apple tart with honey, peaches & some lemony hops, nice Summer beer!

MF: Slick, medium bodied with moderate carbonation & a nice warming sensation

Drinks pretty easy, the tartness/sourness really sucks you in, beware the somewhat hidden ABV! I saw a much peach as cherry in this one, this was way better than I thought it would be, but Southern Tier usually delivers the goods. This is a very nice saison! Might be too clean tasting for some purists

Photo of drabmuh
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip. Beer is reddish and hazy forms a white head of medium and small bubbles. Some lacing on the glass. It looks fine.

Aroma is slightly sweet and slightly cherry. I was expecting more of a Saison-like aroma, but its not there. It smells OK, overall kind of weak though.

Beer is medium to light in body, has a nice tartness from the cherries but none of the things I consider characteristic for a saison. dirnkability is good but overall i'm pretty bored.

Photo of feloniousmonk
4/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, straw golden, unfiltered appearance, creamy, lace-leaving head, dwindles down to a slim ring.

sweetness starts out the aroma, cherry smell kicks off, and then a hint of sour and funk, turning dry.

Taste: bold leap onto the palate, full bodied flavor, thick texture, crisp, fresh, flavorful. Wheat texture felt on the tongue and through the mouth. Cherry taste is considerably minor, provides a hint of sweet fruit flavor, just an undercurrent of flavoring. Nothing wrong with that. Those looking for a lambic or a Kasteel Rouge type of brew best look elsewhere.

Very drinkable, despite the 8%, barely felt.
A unique take on a great, thirst-quenching style.

Photo of jwc215
3.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle:

Pours deep golden with pleny of clarity and a thin white head that eventually vanishes.

The smell is of some spiced yeast, a touch of pepper, vanilla and a vague hint of cherry.

The taste is of vanilla with peppery spicing. There's a grainy, slighlty grassy (that picks up in the second half, as it warms), background. The yeast comes through to give it a bready tone. The cherry is pretty vague - between "power of suggestion" and the cherry-like quality found most notibly in some English-style ales. "Saison" flavor there, but more like "Saison-ish", same goes for cherry. The oak gives vanilla and some spicing. Alcohol noticeable in a sweet, warming way, but is not too sharp. It has a sweetish finish.

Medium-bodied, it's a bit swishy.

Drinks smooth and well enough for abv. Interesting, nothing "off", but I can't help but think - this is nice but could be so much more. It's almost there.

Photo of smcolw
3.28/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

"ale brewed with cherries & aged with oak"

This beer pours golden in color and has the subtlest of hazes. The head is mild but leaves some ring lace. It recedes to a single level of bubbles fairly soon after the pour.

Typical soured aroma I associate with French Biere de Garde. I cannot detect any cherries nor any hop.

More dry than most Saisons. Some hop shows up in the swallow, but the aftertaste is very short. OK body, high carbonation--typical for the style. I cannot detect any effects from the oak aging.

Overall, I'm not all that interested in this version.

Photo of WesWes
4.38/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a beautiful gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a wonderful pale malt scent along with fruity yeast esters and a light cherry aroma. It has a slight oak/farmhouse mustiness to it. The taste is great! There is a lot going on with this beer. It's got all traditional saison characteristics, but the cherry flavor adds a smoothness to the finish. It's not as dry and musty as some. The malt content is excellent. There is a bit of malt sweetness that lends itself well with the cherry and yeast ester components. I'm only detecting a minimal oak contribution. The mouthfeel is outstanding. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. It find most saisons to be a little overcarbonated. This one is on point. I'm a big fan of this beer. I know everyone wants to emulate the Belgian styles to a tee, but I would like to see some Americanised versions. It's worked for a lot of styles. Why not these?

Photo of Mora2000
3.58/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a yellow color with a white head. The aroma is a mix of Belgian yeast, lighter malts, cherries and a lot of oaked notes.

There are a lot of oaked notes in the flavor as well. I get cherries, yeast and caramel malt as well as the dry, oak. The beer is very dry.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Pretty good, but not one of the better beers I have had from Southern Tier.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.65/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A vigorous pour produces barely a one-finger thick, pale tan colored head. The beer is a clearish, honey gold color that shows a lightly hazy, straw-gold color when held up to the light. Despite the anemic head it is decently carbonated, which does a good job of supporting a thin head continuously. The aroma is very malty, up front, but this is quickly overtaken by a mix of fruity esters, phenolics and fermentation character. Ripe pears, something a bit like kiwi and some orange zest aromatics are offset by spicy notes of white pepper, faint ginger, and earthy spiciness sort of like coriander and sage as well as a nice herbal note. This last, when coupled with the malt produces an aroma like some sort of herbal honey, the malt also contributes a nice cracker-like grain character, a nice crushed wheat aroma and a touch of pale-malt grassiness. This is an interesting mix of sweet grain, toasty malt, and spicy, fruity fermentation character; there is no real cherry character though, perhaps it accents a touch of the general fruit aromatics.

Sweet tasting, with a sort of wine-like fruitiness to it. This has a creamy, chewy body that competes easily with the peppery, zippy carbonation. The sweetness accentuates a light, herbal varietal of honey, some young ginger notes, sweet wheat flavors and secondarily some fruit notes of not quite ripe melon, some pear-like flavors as well as a touch of Macintosh apple. The beer finishes with a hint of astringency and a touch of hop bitterness; the former is a combination of fermentation character and, more than likely, the oak character. The oak though is quite faint, though it seems to add a touch of structure to the body. As the beer warms up the alcohol becomes a bit more noticeable in the finish adding some warming and more spiciness to the finish. As it gets quite a bit warmer the fruitiness picks up and almost suggests a cherry note.

This is a really lame attempt at a fruit beer. I wish the brewery had played the Fantome card and just insinuated at interesting ingredients that only accented the beer, but did not define them. This beer does achieve that as I think both the cherries and the barrel subtly influence the overall character of this beer, but are not particularly expressive themselves. This is not a bad example of a strong Saison, it is a touch too sweet and could perhaps use a bit more complexity.

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Imperial Cherry Saison from Southern Tier Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 329 ratings.