Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Powder Hound Winter Ale - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Powder Hound Winter AlePowder Hound Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

243 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 243
Hads: 486
rAvg: 3.61
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 9
Gots: 28 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  7.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-13-2002

Two words describe winter in our neck of the woods... cold, dark, and snowy. Just the way we like it! At 7.2% ABV, Powder Hound Winter Ale gives just the right amount of warmth, balanced by its rich taste and generous dose of Hallertau, Palisade, and Amarillo hops. After a cold day of getting it done or just relaxing, the avalanche of flavor will have you saying these four words - "I'll have another Powder Hound"!
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 243 | Hads: 486
Photo of beertunes
3.25/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in Imperial pint. Poured a nice medium brown with a tall, fluffy, off-white head that had very good retention and lacing. The aroma was mostly sweet malts, some caramel notes, with a trace of hops.

The taste was also mostly sweet malt, with a bit of hops and spice. The body was typical, perhaps a bit on the thin side. Drinkability was good, but with the beer being so average, I can't see having more than one.

Overall, this is a decent little beer, worth a shot if you see it. (488 characters)

Photo of HiroProtagonist
3.24/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Powder Hound was served from a 12 oz bottle. In a Duvel tulip, the beer was a very attractive deep ruby-orange, and was topped by an off-white head that left very nice and ornate lacing. The underpowering nose was sweet with a delicate strawberry maltiness and a subtle citric hoppiness. The taste was also rather bland for a winter beer. The malt character was quite mild and not as sweet as the nose suggested, with no roastiness to be found. Instead, a Belgian strong ale-like focused strawberry essence presided, and held up throughout the mild bitter finish. I am reminded somewhat of a wimpy version of the Victory Grand Cru. My conclusion is that this beer is an experimental variant of the Belgian pale strong style (though there was no spice), perhaps an attempt to blend this style with another, altough with what I don't know...maybe with an amber/red ale as the style designation suggests, or an English pale ale. The result is not very inspiring, but isn't bad, just bland. The body of the beer is decent, though carbonation seemed fizzle out to quickly. An interesting beer, but fails to make a splash. (1,116 characters)

Photo of marc77
3.23/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Ruddy bister hue, topped by a beige head that recedes into a lean, but steadfast layer. Frothy, loose lace remains. The aroma is a combination of mellow cocoa and tepid, slightly tart lemon like citrus. Floral hints arise as it breathes, but as a whole the aroma is understated and functional at best. The flavor is a facsimile of the nose. Mild cocoa and citrus are prevalent, although an undertone of caramel sweetened, dark biscuit adds depth. Hop bitterness is paltry and leaves ample, but inobtrusive residual sweetness. Virtually bereft of esters, save a trace figgish complement. Lightly bodied and conducive to easy quaffing. Needs more dextrins to bolster the malt backbone. Finishes squeaky clean, with only a ghostly hint of roasted barley. An innocuous, well crafted, albeit unimaginative brew. Excellent drinkability, limited savorability. (852 characters)

Photo of CWiggins
3.22/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jeremy for this beer. I probably would have never heard of it had he not been so generous.

What should one expect when the words "winter ale" appear on a bottle? I have high expectations for any beer displaying those words, and when the brew turns out to be a hoppier or slightly stronger ale than regular beers by that brewer I am usually very disappointed. I sorely desire those words to mean something–specifically, I want those words to imply a spiced ale in the grand tradition of the winter warmer. But almost anything is possible with "winter" ales, and I found my desires once again thwarted by an otherwise decent ale.

This one pours a dark red/amber, and the dark tan head that forms quickly dissipates almost as fast. It emits a musky smell reminiscent of the woods on a cold autumn morning, with aromas of biscuit-like malts, Granny Smith apples, chestnuts, cotton candy, and cherry pie. The flavor isn't nearly as expressive: there is a mild malt body accented by hops at the finish. The hue of mildly roasted malts and sweet fruit is followed by an oatmeal-like aftertaste accompanied by that familiar hoppy bitterness. The bready aftertaste lingers for a pleasant amount of time.

I have to admit amber/red ales aren't my forte. In fact, I usually avoid them like the plague! Big Sky's Powder Hound Winter Ale is pleasant to drink and contains a breadth of interesting flavors, even if it doesn't meet my silly expectations. (1,452 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.21/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a firkin at Groveland Tap.

Came with a bit of head and lacing from the firkin, but I couldn't pull must aroma or flavor out of it, even as it warmed. Maybe some beers just aren't made to go on cask. I just got a little cocoa malt with decent hops bitterness. Felt nice and easy to drink, but I wasn't particularly inspired to drink more. (350 characters)

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.21/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Rich amber in color. Clear, with nice 1 finger head and sticky lace. Looks like a pretty good amber.

Smell: Roasted malts, brown sugar, maybe a little alcohol

Taste: Definitely taste the malts. Strong bread flavor (gingerbread maybe?). This reminds me a lot of 2 Below. Aftertaste was mildly bitter/hoppy.

Mouthfeel: watery with mild carbonation = dissapointing

Drinkability: meh... I guess I'd drink it, but there's so many other better winter beers out there. Then again, I guess this is an amber. For an amber, it's alright. (543 characters)

Photo of magictrokini
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear brown pour with no head. Caramel-sweet aroma makes you think this is going to be sticky sweet. The malt and hop profiles, however balance this one out into a very smooth, slightly spicy beer. Only problem was that I expected more from a winter beer, either in the alcohol content or overall flavor. Kind of weak in both areas, but still an enjoyable brew. (361 characters)

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark cider with some haze thru it. Head started off nice but fell quick leaving strays across the top and a decent light beige ring around the glass.

S: Strawberry, caramel, cooked carrots, a bit grassy and some brown sugar.

T: Begins fruity (boysenberry, dull cherry and yellow apple) mixed with earthy hops. Dingy caramel moves forward with spicy hops across the tip of the tongue. Finishes with lingery red fruit and flat bitterness.

M: Medium body but thin and watery.

D: Eh. I like where they are going but the execution isn't stellar. Not huge into the "earthy" flavors as well. (600 characters)

Photo of ReebShorts
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a chalice, just because I love drinking from it. Somewhat aggresive on the last half of the pour and still only managed a thin head which faded quickly, leaving some central bubbles behind and lacing around the rim.

A bit redder in color than other winter ales I've been sampling, kinda of a carmel brown/red.

Aroma is malty, and maybe some dark fruit, like plum.

Ok, taste is malty, and sweetened possibly by honey. Finish is dry. Not a bad sipper, but nothing really "wow's" me here. Pretty average. (522 characters)

Photo of brewbattles
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:

http://youtu.be/TJowachG1no (297 characters)

Photo of CaptainIPA
3.18/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark copper in color with burgundy flaring around the edges and amazing clarity. An aggressive pour yields an impressive, two-finger, cream-colored head with fair retention and moderate lacing.

S: Citrus hops and caramel malt with suggestions of brown sugar.

T: After strong marks for both appearance and aroma, things begin sliding to the middle of the road. Taste opens trending sweet, with roasted malt notes and touches of caramel. A mild hop bitterness rounds out the middle and brings it on home. Finishes astringently dry. Not much else happening here.

M: Relatively thin bodied, yet slick on the palate and chewy in the mouth.

D: As a Winter Ale, Powder Hound needs to be taught a few new tricks. Just not inspiring enough to warrant session drinking. (767 characters)

Photo of Oxymoron
3.18/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I tried this beer last year, but never rated. Luckily its back again so here goes, the pour is a dark red color with brown hues and good clarity. A nice tan colored head that quickly dissipates and not much lacing after some time.

Overall the aroma is rather light. The nose is malty with some tropical fruit and fig aromas. A bready and somewhat grainy essence. There are some hop esters with a grassy feel to it.

The taste is sweeter then expected with a basic sweet pale malt taste and honey flavor in the background. Some fruity notes continue with some hints of plums and raisins coming out. Light caramel touches at the end and herbal hop presence as well.

The body has a mid to light feel that has a not quite dry finish to it. There is also a light chalky finish which is a deterrent. Carbonation is good though. Overall its a good beer with room to improve. (878 characters)

Photo of alexgash
3.18/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Chestnut amber with a light tan head. Smells of butterscotch cookie dough with a dash of vanilla and Christmas wreath. Shortbread cookie flavors up front, along with butterscotch, and sweet vanilla. Hops enter, resinous, but mostly astringent and raw. Bittersweet finish. Medium-bodied, with a soapy feel. Not as good as I had hoped. (333 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.15/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A glossy brown pour, nice fluffy head that settled to a soapy layer. A bit sticky on the glass.
Malt is first with the nose. A sticky sweetness, some soft fruit and cranberry. Musky a bit, too. Hops seem to keep it dry.
Sweet malt in the mouth, mixed with figs and cranberry. Subtle hints of dark fruits like plum, maybe some banana, but very little.
Notice of a slight crisp aftertaste, malt lingers a bit. (408 characters)

Photo of 1whiskey
3.11/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a weizen glass. Deep mahogany red/brown, fairly clear when held to light. Nice frothy two finger head.

Very light nose is slightly sweet and sour with some hop character (EKG, Fuggles?) noticeable if you try hard. Real hard. Not much here.

Intitial taste is fairly clean, but a nice toasted grain flavor is evident. So where is the "avalanche of hops" Big Sky boasts of on their website? A low level of tea-like bitterness is the only thing I can detect here. It doesn't taste bad, it just doesn't taste like much at all. Seems like more a transition beer than a hearty winter ale.

Light bodied and highly carbonated, Powder Hound is nothing if not highly drinkable.

Probably not what most BAs are looking for in a hearty winter ale, but it's an easy drinker that could make for an unobjectionable transition beer for your friends, as well as an easy pairing with your typical pub fare. (923 characters)

Photo of Beaver13
3.08/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Pours a reddish amber with a creamy light tan head that goes to a film that laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet caramel and chocolate, some grassy hops and a little cherry.

The flavor is sweet toffee malts with some slightly tart cherry fruitiness and a musty earthiness - kind of a strange combination. It is medium bodied and has a good level of carbonation.

Overall, it's nice and is drinkable, but not too exciting. It seemed like more of a fruit beer than a pale ale. (495 characters)

Photo of Hhawk06
3.08/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer starts off promising and kind of goes downhill as you can see from my ratings.

It poured with a nice pillowy and largely beaded head. The dark amber color it displays is muddied by further ruby and brown colors. It looks good. The nose is malty fresh and bread-like. The body is straight medium but there is a clear rough edge to the mouthfeel that robs a bit from the drinkability. The over-riding chestnut flavor drives the beer, but the background consists of a cinnamon spice essence that I would expect from a winter offering. The finish i smore malty with the clove/cinnamon presence more pronounced. Ultimately, it leaves you leafy dry. Its ok, but proves somewhat pedestrian by the time you're done. (720 characters)

Photo of mdcrouser
3.08/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A half inch of eggshell colored head initially tops off this beer, but it quickly fades to a simple ring around the glass, pocked by bubbles atop the beer. Looks like a standard reddish-brown winter ale from here.

A mildly spicy mix of malts an light hops tempts the nose, inviting a closer sample.

Only a hint of spice on the tongue, but a nice touch of caramel maltiness - sweet and bitter, with much less spice than one would expect.

An initial kick of carbonation quickly ceases, leaving lingering sweetness, but overall a pretty unexciting beer - drinkable, but uninspired.

Wishing they would have incorporated some rye malts here - could have added much more depth.

Enjoyable in its drinkability, but probably not for a repeat run. (747 characters)

Photo of KeefD
3.07/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This pours a dark amber color with ok head and minimal lacing. Smells super sweet and malty. Taste is very much the same. Dark fruits when it's cold, but warms to a caramel, chocolate, raisin, prune flavor. Good carbonation, but it's can't overcome the thickness and syrupyness of this brew. Not the best winter offering I've had. (330 characters)

Photo of BeerAngel
3.07/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark amber/copper with a small off-white head. The aroma reveals a light malt and wet dog aroma (?). Must be the hound ;-). The taste is a toasty bread taste with mild hops and finishes with an alcohol taste…fortunately no hound this time. This is a light bodied brew that is decent at best. It is not highly complex and not extremely appealing. Thanks nonetheless to budgood1 for sending me this brew! Cheers! (425 characters)

Photo of Brent
3.06/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The bottle did not give any guidance as to the style, and all the way through the beer, I kept wondering "what are they trying to accomplish here?" Not a bad beer, but it seemed to lack direction. Lightly sweet overall, with some bitterness at the front which quickly mellowed. I couldn't decide if this winter seasonal was an amber ale, or a very, very mellow old ale style. Nice, but not much "oomph" for a winter seasonal. (425 characters)

Photo of GossageBrewery
3.03/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this amber ale from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, poured a clear amber color, produced a nice off white head, decent retention and it left a good amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted of caramel and lemongrass. Medium in body, this ale had a foundation of malted grain, sweet caramel and some citric lemon hops. Somewhat bitter- Dry finish. Overall, not very flavorful- its decent for a session beer but for a "Winter Ale" i was expecting a bit more umph! (479 characters)

Photo of DukeofAle
3.03/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Powder Hound is a dog. Too bad, I love Big Sky's IPA. Moose Drool and Scape Goat ain't bad, either - but this dog don't hunt. Maybe I don't know what a American Amber is supposed to be - but I don't think this is it. There is nothing that stands out about this beer - everythings OK but nothing is great! There's too many better beers to try. (342 characters)

Photo of descartes
3.01/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 33 cl bottle.

Appearance: Clear amber beer with slight tan head.
Smell: Nectary sweet smell, with hints, smells thin.
Taste: Malty taste,with hint of burnt caramel. Off aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but becomes watery quickly.

Overall: I was disappoint by a thin body, an overly sweet smell and a one dimensional roasted taste. (355 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
2.99/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

rb

12oz for about $1.30 at the Boise Coop, poured into my standard red wine glass.

Crystal clear dark amber .. red highlites when held up to the light.... good 3/4" head the drops to an off white collar with lacing that stick around to the end of the glass.

Smell is malt dominated with pit fruits.. sweet cherries and a little peach. No noticeable hops ... just toasted and bready malts ... something is missing.

Flavor is much more complex and appreciated. Malt accentuated with toasted and roasted grains .... stops well short of black grains. Fruitiness is still very prevalent .... enough bitterness to barely balance... needs more hops. Good body.. and dialed in carbonation.

Powder Hound is one of those Holiday brews I pick up every year (I have a soft spot in my heart for Montana breweries). I like all Big Sky brews, especially the special releases available at the brewery, but Powder Hound I've always though needs work .... just a little work and quite a bit more hops. I would get bored fast drinking more than 1-2 of these in a session. (1,057 characters)

Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 243 ratings.