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Powder Hound Winter Ale - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Powder Hound Winter AlePowder Hound Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

243 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 243
Hads: 491
Avg: 3.62
pDev: 17.4%
Wants: 10
Gots: 31 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  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
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Reviews: 243 | Hads: 491
Photo of TMoney2591
3.29/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Served in a willibecher at Firkin.

Do they have skiing teams in the Big sky conference? Regardless, this stuff pours a clear amber topped by a finger-and-a-half of cream-white foam. The nose comprises very light grapefruit peel, mixed greens, light honey-dripped biscuit, and very light toffee. The taste brings in more of the same, along with more greens, a touch more sweetness for the honey and biscuit, and an added hint of grass. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta/kinda drying finish. Overall, an alright, if thoroughly nondescript, little beer.

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Photo of twistedweather
3.99/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this into a nice snifter I found at Pear, a store at the Pike Place Market here in Seattle. I relished at the carmel color, and dip in for a sniff. Like smelling flowers and true hoppiness. By this time I was drooling a took a large sip. A bitter smooth flow cascaded down my throat...

Ahmen Ahmen I shouted hahlellujah! This beer is excellent. It even has a nice scene with a husky and some snow on the label. Belltown is were I found it, jus a single but would definetly get a sixer! floral smooth not too spicy goes down great!

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Photo of Mdog
3.32/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Amber, good head.

Smell: Oxidized, over ripe fruits, prune?

Taste: An unusual mix of fruit, toffee, and earthy flavors. Kind of muddled.

Overall: Received a few bottles as a gift. I think they may be a little old but reviewed anyway. This beer reminded me why I usually avoid "amber ales" and "winter ales" unless they are highly recommended. An uninspiring mix of fruit and toffee flavors, at least it didn't have metallic hop flavors like my least favorite red/amber ales.

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Photo of Daktyls
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a crisp and clear amber color with a half finger head on the top that dissipates to a fine lacing on the top with patches of larger bubbles in the middle and clinging to the edge of the glass.

S: Maltiness and floral hops present themselves almost immediately with hints of pine and a little bit of burnt caramel as well. Not too much else that I can pick up.

T: Floral hops, light and crisp notes of pine with malt notes providing a balanced backing. Some caramel again manifests itself in the background with some breadiness present as well.

M: A crisp tasting beer with enough flavor to hide the higher alcohol content which almost leaves a layer in mouth after the swallow. Very enjoyable.

O: Again, a very enjoyable beer, not too aggressive, but presents itself enough to make its flavors know. While perhaps not a 'traditional' winter ale, still very enjoyable.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.29/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a super-hazy, golden-orange color, some brighter yellow tips around the edges. Packed with lots of tiny pieces of sediment that float around the beer. Creamy, beige-colored head settles fast and doesn't leave much lacing. Aroma was full of malts, up and down, toasted caramels, mild spices, a deep, sweet, musty earthiness to it as well. Some sweeter fruits sit in the background, like dates and prunes. Hops? Basically nowhere to be found on the nose. Taste is even more jam-packed with caramel malts and spices, giving it a slight warming feeling. Alcohol comes through, but doesn't really hinder. Sweet, sharp fruitiness comes through; prunes, grapes, almost wine-like as it meshes with the mild alcohol character. Some more spices come through as the beer warms, but I really can't put my finger on what they might be. Earthy tones and deep, sweet esters come through - this beer is almost a little too malty and sweet. The hops are still mostly absent. Slight nuttiness along with some grains in the aftertaste, but still pulling heavy on the sweet caramel malts and deep fruitiness. Medium body, medium carbonation.

Eh, I wasn't really feeling this one. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good, either. A little to unbalanced with the malt in my opinion, and the sweetness just wasn't controlled or able to stand all on its own. Decent, but certainly nothing special.

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Photo of pkalix
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

i'm realizing that "winter ale" can mean almost anything to different people.
this one pours a clean, clear, reddish amber with micro buubles rising straight to the top.
this one also smells like a forest of hops.
tastes pine-y, grapefruit-y; almost a forset of hops. it's clean and refreshing, none the less....
overall, for a 7.2% i can hang with this one. it does appear the hops in american beer is to hide the abv and make it easier to drink but this one hasa decent balance of pine-y to abv that i can handle.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.
7.2% ABV, numbers on neck.

A - Clear golden amber in color, Big Sky Powder Hound has very little carbonation floating though it resulting in a somewhat poorly sustained sand-colored head. Thick lace covers the glass like frost on a cold morning's car window.

S - Powder Hound's aroma mimics the painted label with fresh pine and a crispness of the cold, the open outdoors. Herbal hops poke through like a distant whiff of tea with caramel drizzled hard roll maltiness following.

T - Shifting back and fourth, the flavor can't seem to make up it's mind on whether malt or hops should dominate, starting with a bready and beefy malt flavor. Caramel and warm dough are overtaken by a a flurry of hops ranging in flavors from pine and sticky sap to earthy herbal notes and candied, dried pineapple on the finish.

M - Though the flavor doesn't quite present itself as deliberate at first, the balance and feel sure does, plowing forwards with a smooth medium malty body and dry, decidedly bitter finish that lingers around for a few moments.

O - Powder Hound has a beautifully painted label that evokes strong outdoors-y feelings of winter in the northwoods for me but that's about where the "Winter" character of this beer stops. It seems to me more of a higher octane amber with a nice little hop push and solid malt body, suitable for tailgating during those cold winter games.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.86/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a clear, bright orange amber with a pillowy white, 2 finger head. Fantastic retention. Lacing coats the glass from top to bottom. Great stick. Very impressive.

Smell - Healthy dose of caramel malt hits the nostrils, complemented nicely by a slightly floral, slightly citric hop aroma. Wonderful smelling brew.

Taste - Strong caramel malt backbone from start to finish, starts with the caramel before a noticeable citric hop character takes command by mid-taste, riding out through the finish. Slightly spicy. Hits briefly on cocoa. Leaves behind a caramel, slightly toasted biscuit and a slight orange pith hop aftertaste. Good, but nothing special.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, with active carbonation. Creamy, smooth and entirely drinkable.

Overall - Too bad the flavor doesn't quite match up with the rest of the qualities this beer presents, otherwise this thing could be a monster of a winter release. It's just missing one thing that would really set it off. Maybe if it popped a bit more on toasted notes? A pinch more chocolate malt, maybe? In any event, it's a pretty darn good beer.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Big Sky's Powder Hound Winter Ale last week for $1.69 at The Lager Mill. I haven't seen this beer around before, so I decided to take a chance on it, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but I know it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label looks nice and I think it's pretty well done. It poured a light amber color that was slightly golden and it took on some amber hues when held to the light with a finger and a half worth of slightly off white head that that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left a nice ring of lacing. This was a nice looking beer but the color and head were just a little on the weak side.

S- The aroma starts off with some very sweet caramel malts that imparted a very sweet, grainy, caramel, and a slight brown sugar like aroma. After that comes the hops which seem to be floral and citrusy with the citrus fruit aspect seeming to stick out the most imparting a sweet mango, orange and grapefruit aroma. The aroma is nice, I like the caramel and citrus fruit aromas but it has a little to much sweetness to it.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with the malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness to it and imparts a grainy, bready, and caramel like flavor. After that comes a light amount of spices that aren't that noticeable and are followed by a good amount of citrus and floral hops with the citrus still seeming to stick out the most and they impart some nice light citrus hops flavors with no one fruit overpowering each other. On the finish there's a slightly lighter amount of medium bitterness with a pretty grainy and slightly sweet aftertaste. This was a nice tasting beer that seemed to be pretty balanced and very true to style.

M- Smooth, clean, crisp, on the lighter side of being medium bodied with a slightly higher amount of medium carbonation that was just a little prickly. This beer had a nice mouthfeel that was very true to style.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and an above average example of the style, it had all the things that I look for in a good Amber Ale and the balance was pretty nice. This beer had very good drinkability, it was very smooth, crisp, a little refreshing, and it had a decent amount of flavor to hold my attention, I could drink a few of these without a problem, it's a pretty easy drinking Red Ale and I like that. What I liked the most about this beer was the drinkability, it was very good and better then most Amber Ales and it also hid it's alcohol very nicely. What I liked the least about this beer was how sweet it smelled, it had me preparing for the worse but luckily all that sweetness didn't make it to the taste. I would buy this beer again to keep around in the fridge since I think it's a good example of the style and it's always nice to have a quality easy drinking Amber Ale on hand, I recommend this beer to just about anyone, fans of the style should really appreciate it. All in all I was pretty happy with this beer and I thought it was very solid and a good example of the style. the last couple Big Sky beers I had weren't too impressive so it's nice to get one that I enjoy. My only problem with this beer is that I think it's miss marketed, I don't really think of this as Winter Ale, it has that nice Amber Ale flavor that is perfect for the summer and fall and I think this beer would do much better if marketed as a year round Amber Ale instead of a Winter Ale, but that's just my opinion. Either was this was pretty solid and I'm happy I tried it.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the BevMo Holiday Beerfest held at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest. Taste is much the same with a mild hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of braker649er
2.95/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was a pretty good beer. But after it poured out from the bottle with a decent head, it lost all head quickly. I also had trouble placing the Amarillo hops, which I generally love. Still, there were overall good flavors involved. I liked it enough to try another bottle to see if that holds carbonation more.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from tasting notes.

Poured out a darker amber with decent clarity, two fingers of foamy head that stayed around for a minute and a half, with medium levels of lacing left behind. Smells like an even blend of citrus peel, chocolate malt, and a garnish of vanilla on top. Tastes has a gentle toasted nut and vanilla character combined with a citrus / earthy hopping garnish. Noticeably absent is any kind of 'holiday spicing', for better or for worse. Feels thicker in flavor than the body actually is, gently carbonated and creamy in texture.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - clear bronze, thumb of off white head retained at a solid half finger cover leaving consistent lacing
S - big aroma of juicy citrus and leafy green hops ... very surprised (pleasantly) given typical winter ale expectations, rounded out with some grainy malt
T - strong resiny hop flavour hits hard, followed by some milder perfume and citrus, toasty grain malt background, this is more like an IPA or ESB which is always fine by me
M - medium body with a sharp bite that gets in the nostrils, finishes very bitter
O - tastes like an IPA, called a winter ale, categorized here a red ale, i don't know what the right answer is but I do know this is a very tasty treat that i will keep going back to while visiting Montana

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a burnished gold colour with steady bead. Head is off-white, a bit whispy but nice uneven sinking with clingy lace on the edge. Quite a decent-looking head; otherwise slightly meh.

Smells pleasant and hoppy. Nice citric notes with a side order of mango, melon and apricot. Nice English malt behind it, slightly burnished again and maybe a touch of booze. Quite pleasant.

Taste is quite a malty-hoppy blend. Lots of rich, quite earthy English toffee malts with a touch of carob; gets resiny and slight citric hop notes floating over the top. A little bit spongey and dank, but it's not such a heavy bittering hop flavour that it gets bogged down towards the back. A touch of melon ester on there as well, then finish is tangy and light. Could use a bit more bitterness but it's quite clean notwithstanding. Not mind-blowing, but pleasant.

Clean and fairly smooth. A touch above watery and nothing too sharp.

Nice, drinkable hoppy beer. Wouldn't be complaining if there were more, but it's still decently put together.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.45/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Amber, slightly oranged, with a one finger head that lasts well and leaves a bit of lacing.
S- The smell is sweet and doughy, with a bit of floral and citrus hop aroma.
T- The taste is pleasant at first, doughy with a good bit of hoppiness. There is a touch of bracing alcohol in the finish.
M- Alcohol is noticable. Medium--full body for an amber. Carb is medium low.
O- It's a decent, albeit unremarkable beer.

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Photo of Jamesthebrit
3.37/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

a: amber
s: I swear I smell some chocolate in there. Also a floral scent
t: sweet, floral, a little lingering bitterness.
m: a little bitter and a little too bubbly.

Overall an above average ale. More floral than others I've had and also for a winter beer much better than others.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pleasant light copper amber hue with a very fine, indeed powdery, head of off-white. Some patchy lace is left. Body is quite fine and fluid, but with a nice slickness to it. Very fine carbonation. Indeed, "fine" is coming up a lot in describing the appearance; it is a fine looking beer.

Nose is muted, with a touch of crisp, generic American hop aroma that smells as though it's been left a little long. Some clean, lemony dish detergent aromas, with a touch of chlorine and turned earth. Nice, but not that exciting.

Taste is pleasantly malty, with a solid backbone of faintly toasted malts, leading to a clean but pronounced American hop bitterness on the back of the palate. Clear feel lets the crisp hop characters shine, lending a freshness to the mix that a heavier body would mask.

Overall, a pretty nice hoppy American amber ale. It's smooth, and the malt is perhaps a little less pronounced than it could be, but it's a good, if somewhat middle-of-the-road example of the style.

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Photo of warnerry
3.36/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours clear copper with one and a half fingers of tan head. Head has very good retention and leaves nice rings of lacing.

S - Toffee and caramel are prominent, with a bit of clove and citrus.

T - Similar to smell, with quite a bit of bitterness from some citrus hops and the spices. Leads to a dry finish.

M - Medium mouthfeel starts slightly sweet and transitions to bitter and dry on the finish.

O - A decent amber/ winter warmer, though the bitterness isn't particularly desirable in this case.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The powder hound is a beautiful beer. Poured a clear perfect amber with slighly off white head that is at least a half finger and is lacing really well. The smell is a good heavy carmal malt with tinges of spice. The initial taste was an alcohol explosion. The second taste allowed for the malt and carmel to begin to blossum. The mouthfeel is medium body with good carbonation. Overall this is a decent beer....the alcohol content is not masked as well as I would like.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best by 02/15/2012. A bit of a gusher upon opening. Pours crystal clear golden amber color with a nice 2 finger dense off white head with great retention that reduces to a thick cap that lingers. Some decent lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of caramel, orange, pine, herbal, bread, pine, toasted malt, and light spiciness. Some nice aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of orange, grapefruit, pine, caramel, herbal, toasted malt, bread, and spiciness. Decent amount of bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of bread, caramel, herbal spiciness, and citrus on the finish for a bit. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth and slightly creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming after the finish. Very drinkable and smooth for 7.2%. Overall this is a very nice and drinkable amber ale. Nice hoppy and spicy flavor, with good malt balance.

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Photo of n2185
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear orange with two fingers of off-white head that recedes into a thin layer with good lacing.

S: Lots of caramel malts and sweet orange citrus on the nose. There are some bready aromas mixed in as well.

T: Caramel malts dominate alone with sweet bread flavors. There are some lightly sweet citrus notes mixed in as well along with a slightly bitter finish.

M: Medium body and carbonation, this beer is a little watery feeling.

O: A decent beer, though nothing special. I'd like a bit more hop presence in the nose and flavor.

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Photo of KajII
3.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Best served in a Trappist glass]

The pour was a hazy medium orange with an average sized (1-2 finger) white creamy head that diminished into a puddle of residue which in turn created streaking sheets of lacing.

The aroma was of a mild bread malt, pine hops and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, toffee, coriander, a bit of clove and just a touch of alcohol.

The taste was malty and mildly sweet with notes of caramel and toffee early on and then progressed into a nice bitter hoppy flavor that had notes of some dark fruit and spices with a hint of alcohol at the end. The flavor lingered for a nice long time and left a nice spicy malty flavor on the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was medium in body and a tad watery in texture with a medium carbonation.

Overall a nice bold Winter Ale that had just the right amount of spices and a great hoppy finish.

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Photo of MonkeymooTJ
3.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Crystal clear amber/orange with a two finger off white head. An abundance amount of carbonation rises up to the top of the glass


Caramel maltiness with a good dose of spicy hops in the mix


A caramel malty sweetness is noticeable initially with a follow up of a combination of spicy and citrus hops


This beer gives off a medium to heavy feeling and leaves a slight alcohol burn on the tongue. The carbonation level hits the spot just right


I got more of an American Strong ale impression from this beer rather than a amber/red due to the bitterness and alcohol twinge. I did enjoy the balance it provided and would purchase again

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Photo of Tone
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, copper color. 5/4 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight citrus hops, hint of floral hops, and a hint of earthy malt. Fits the style of an American Amber / Red Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, hint of pale malt, floral hops, slight citrus hops, hint of earthy malt, and a hint of caramel malt. Overall, good appearance, body, complexity, and blend.

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Photo of bsp77
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear golden amber with billowing head and slight lacing.

Smell: Citrus, toast and an undeniable similarity to Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which I associate with cinnamon and honey, but I don't think that is in here, so not sure where that aroma is coming from.

Taste: Light malts of biscuit, toast and mead, with a nice layer of spicy English hops on top, which has a tinge of citrus and pine. Still getting some very light winter spices.

Feel: Medium body with moderate carbonation and a nice dry finish.

Overall: Nice ale overall that does not seem to fit any known style. Kind of an English Strong Ale, kind of an Amber Ale, kind of a Spiced Winter Warmer (despite the lack of spices). This seriously confuses the hell out of me, but if I put my beer reviewing hat away, it is clear that I really enjoy it.

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