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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 rowew
3.46/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz longneck bottle. This is another beer that is new to the Denver market. As with all the other Big Sky beers, the label is a badly drawn animal. I am starting to think they let their kids design the labels.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish brown color with a nice thick tan colored head. Nice lacing.

Smell: Not a lot of aroma - slight malt sweetness and a hint of spice, but it is faint.

Taste: Medium bodied mouthfeel with a fairly low carbonation level. Nice combination of malt sweetness and just a hint of yeast in the beginning, with a good amount of hops to balance out the finish.

Overall impression: A nice winter beer - very drinkable with a good balance of flavors.

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Photo of xoqx
4.12/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - This beer pours copper with a yellow, one finger head exhibiting light retention and wispy lacing.

Smell – There are honey, fruity, malty, and caramelly smells here.

Taste - This beer tastes very malty with bready, honey characteristics. It is nicely balanced with restrained hops. The finish is nothing but average.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is clean, creamy, and nicely-carbonated.

Drinkability – This is a drinkable beer, if not an overly interesting one.

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Photo of loren01
4.12/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber color into pint glass. Nice brownish/white head, light carbonation, slight lacing down the pint glass. Smells very nutty with some roasted grains as well. There is also a scent that I can't quite put my finger on, possibly like a cream/buttery smell. Taste is sweet at first with a nice bitter hoppy aftertaste. The aftertaste was very much unexpected, I didn't really smell any hop scents at all. This beer goes down very easliy, has a great mouthfeel to it. A very solid winter beer by Big Sky.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.08/5  rDev -14.9%
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.

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Photo of battlekow
4.09/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Powder Hound, described on bigskybrew.com as a "Northern Rockies Strong Ale," is a clear reddish-brown color with a small, off-white head that quickly dissipates. Smell has a nutty, slightly buttery character and a caramel sweetness with a tinge of apple; it's a great scent but a little different, and I'm struggling to describe it. Almost smells like ice cream. Tastes pretty good, but not as interesting as the smell. There's a slightly hoppy finish, but Powder Hound tastes for the most part like a generic, malty amber ale. Does have a nicely creamy mouthfeel. Pretty easy drinking for Northern Rockies Strong Ale, I must say.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.72/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very nice beer for style. Has the look of winter ale--lood of sticy without thickness. Nicely browned with ruby highlights. A dirty off white head that persists shows body. Smells toasty and maty. Toffee and chocolate malt round out the nose. Tastes malty, toasty, slightly roasty, slightly chocolately, quite nutty, vanella-ey, and a little caramel-ey. Light buttery and candied. Big body per style that dominates with creamyness and carbonation. Finishes cloying and tacky with light tones of bittering that shows grainyness.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuzzy, dark orangish bronze; a relatively common winter beer color it seems. The compact, orange-tinted beige cap features a pebbled surface of gently popping bubbles. As it drops, sloppy rings of lace appear on the upper portion of the glass.

The nose is redolent of heavily toasted malt and puts me in mind of coarse, heavy, dark bread. I don't smell chocolate per se, so comparisons to pumpernickel don't really apply. It smells a bit earthy as well. The aroma needs something to give it some life. Hops would do the trick, but are virtually absent by my nose.

Powder Hound Winter Ale tastes better than it smells. While it's still malt-dominant, it's more multi-dimensional than the nose could ever hope to be. The malt backbone is firm and stops just short of roasted. Caramel and mild chocolate lead the way and a moderate sweetness helps rather than hinders.

Despite the early and mid sweetness, bitterness gathers itself at the midway point and increases modestly through the finish. The sweet-bitter interplay is wonderful, I just wish the underlying flavor was more to my liking. The body is a click or two above medium and the carbonation is on the shy end of things, resulting in a lovely mouthfeel.

I've been pleased by Big Sky in the past. Powder Hound isn't bad, but a few tweaks are needed to bring it up to the level of its stablemates. I feel like a broken record sometimes, but more hops would improve this beer immensely... more hops would improve this beer immensely... more hops would improve this beer immensely...

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Photo of Tballz420
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew is a brown to dark-brown color, medium tan head with some cascading action. Fair amount of lace. Some caramel malt action on the nose, touch of hops. Sweet malt front, caramel, punctuated in the jaw by some bittering hops. Fairly thin mouth, I can see where they were thinking about going with this beer, but they need some more of everything. Not bad but could surely be better.

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

A clear, ruby-orange copper body and yellowish tan head welcomes you to Big Sky's Powderhound. Its head retention is good, and it leaves rings of craggy and spotty lace about the glass. The nose is fruity with citrusy hops (and yeasty fruitiness?), and malty with a hint of chocolate-drizzled caramel. In the mouth it's delicately zesty with a median carbonation and medium-light body; becoming somewhat creamy as it warms in the mouth. The flavor is fuller than the nose suggests, and it's loaded with rich, chocolate-accented deep-caramel and toffee malt washed by citrusy hops and backed by a rock-solid bitterness and cusp of roastiness. It finishes dry with some lingering tangerine-like fruitiness and mild pine from the hops; some mildly sticky toffee and caramelish malt; and a restrained but lingering bitterness.

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Photo of alexgash
3.18/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

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Photo of zacharius
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a reddish brown color with a nice head that lasts throughout the drink. Aroma is nice, sweet toffee and hops. The taste is sweet toffee balanced with hops, kind of an english hoppy flavor. This beer has a very thick mouthfeel. Drinkability is fine, I wouldn't have too many because they are a bit sweet. Seems like it is alot stronger of a beer than it actually is.

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Photo of WesWes
4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a beautiful ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, victory, and bisquit malts. It is quite toastey and breadlike. The taste is excellent. It has a sweet, yet dry and toastey flavor with a bitter breadlike finish. There are hops in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. It has awesome aroma and taste; a great seasonal brew and a great drinker.

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Photo of oberon
3.77/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light brown with a little orange tint to it with a thin wispy head,aromas of chocolate and roasted nuts most prevalent with some orange and citrius in there as well.A malt tilted flavor a little sweet and nutty a little chocolate in thee with some pine and citruis in the finish wich becomes more pronounced as it warms a little.A decent brew big in the malt department tastes alot better as it warms.

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Photo of GreenCard
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: light brown, slight haze, medium cap of fine-beaded foam, tiny bit of lace

Aroma: darkly malty, pineapple-strawberry fruitiness, caramel, light hops, chocolate, coconut?

Flavor: initial malty sweetness with a slight roasty edge, then dark caramel followed by a hearty hop bitterness, slight vegetal note in the background, finishes semi-dry with a lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel: medium body, fine carbonation, slight alcohol warmth

Other comments: Reminds me of a barley wine without the high abv, if that makes sense. Same sort of maltiness : hoppiness balance and similar esters. Like a scaled-down version of Old Saguaro Barley Wine.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This one had a monstrous head that filled half the glass with a moderate pour. The foam went down slowly, pitting and lacing the glass. The beer itself is a bright, clear ruby color. This one is gorgeous.

Smell – The sharp citrus hops are complimented with a piney bite. Together they mask but do not hide the light malt base. The aroma is wonderful combination of complex pine and citrus hops.

Taste – The malt base comes out HUGE at the taste. I can’t believe the disparity between the nose and the tongue on this one. The hops are actually in the background here, and the creamy, caramel malt is incredible. It loses some of its Amber/Red Ale character, but this is awesome.

Mouthfeel – This one is very creamy in the mouth. It is medium-bodied and just refreshing enough to foot the bill.

Drinkability – A little off-style but an excellent interpretation to say the least. I was quite impressed.

Update – What a difference a year makes. I decided to re-review this with a 2004 (my Dec '04 review was with a 2003) vintage and was greatly disappointed.

The appearance was so-so and the aroma rather cheap. It lost a lot of its smoothness and really didn’t have any stand out flavors like I remember. My initial review had a 4.5 for Appearance and 4.0s for everything else, but I’m changing each of the five rating categories to 3.5.

Update – The 2005 was a lot maltier than years before. They really are working on this recipe. The flavor is grainy but beefy malts. Straight 3.5s seems to be this beer’s home so I’ll leave it as such. It’s a nice ale though and I would definitely recommend.

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Photo of PopeJonPaul
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rich copper-red with a thin tan head, smelled like malted milk balls. Tastes like cinnamon and brown sugar, heavy on the malty sweetness, maybe a bit of nutmeg in there as well, they didn't overdo it one the spices, which is nice. Not much hops, but what there is adds a pleasant citrus bitterness. Quite smooth and drinkable, went especially good with Yam Yam's BBQ (Portland, OR.) I wouldn't really call it a Winter "Warmer" though.

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Photo of cokes
2.98/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Clear russet with a large bubbled, tan dome.
Vacant nose with distant glimmers of smoked pineapples and butter.
Sweet up front, with caramel, then nuttier with almonds. Minor fruity influx of pears and apples and even fainter suggestions of something more tropical. Turns buttery and toasty, then rides out with meager tea-like hops.
It's less than medium bodied, and less than worthwhile as a winter seasonal...or any seasonal.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.42/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11/08/04- Sampled at the Big Sky Brewery on tap.

*taken from notes in August 2004

Appearance- Pours a dark amber-chestnut color with a small head and slight lacing.

Smell- Sweet smelling carmel and malt with maybe some citrus also. Lemon?

Taste- Yummy, malty and slightly nutty sweet taste. Definitely some citrus in the background also.

Mouthfeel- Excellent carbonation. Goes down soooo easy. Smooth and creamy.

Drinkability- Extreme drinkability. Had this for the first time a couple of years ago and it was the beer I most crave from Montana. Awesome beer!

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Photo of RushLimbmalt
4.4/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A nice dark red ale with a fat off white head. The aroma of citrusy hops and crystal malts. The flavor is a bit maltier than the aroma and the hops come on strong towards the end. I was going to rank this beer a bit lower, but as I sit and sip this brew it is making it's personality known and I am growing fond of it. It is not as strong as most winter brews, but it is definitely drinkable.

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

huge foamy head of tiny tan bubbles. Beer is clear and dark reddish brown, inbetween a brown ale and an amber.

Smell is very nice, malty and slightly sweet, what hops i can sense are sharp and orangey/citrusy.

Taste is somewhat sweet as the smell suggested, not too hoppy, quite mellow infact. Pleasing, althoug quite mellow. Aftertaste is very fine too, a mellow toasty sweetness.

Mouthfeel is also nice, there is a lot of thickness and body here to enjoy.

It's a great winter ale. Would be refreshing, especially with a hearty winter meal.

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Photo of ZAP
3.77/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Updated thoughts....a nice red ale or perhaps a blend of a red and a brown ale...not a big-ass winter warmer by any means but decent enough....I think the nose on this is very good..toasted caramel nouget...there is a bit of a sour aftertaste but overall this has a nice toasty flavor....worth trying...

-Nice sweet aroma...Nice malty sweet ale...hops balance perfectly and make this an easy drinking tasty winter ale..solid malt base...a good solid tasty easy drinking ale.

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Photo of marc77
3.23/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

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

Clear light auburn in color with an off-white head that fades fast leaving a sporadic sheeting of lace.
Caramel malts with a hint of dark fruits. Raisins and a bit of over-ripe peach.
Fruity taste, but not overly so. Less spice than I was expecting from a "winter ale" though. There is a very mild hoppiness that comes into play by mid-glass as the beer finishes on a dry note.
Mediumish body with nice mellow carbonation. Slightly oily too.
Not a bad beer, by any means, but I had hopes that this dog had a little more bite. Thanks to Bighuge for the sample.

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Photo of HiroProtagonist
3.24/5  rDev -10.5%
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.

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Photo of woemad
3.46/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's for $1.09.

Poured a very dark orange-amber color. Moderate off-white head. Modest lacing.

Smell is very sweet malts. This smell is almost overpowering, very candyish. No other characteristic sticks out.

Taste is surprisingly subdued when compared to the smell. Starts out very sweet and malty, but not so massive as in the smell. The finish has a crisp hoppy zap to it. That's pretty much all there is - sweet malt followed by a little hoppiness. Not sure how this is supposed to be wintery.

Somewhat creamy mouthfeel, which just adds to the what-the-hell- is-this-going-for feeling I have about this beer.

This is moderately drinkable, but I find nothing essential about it, especially when viewing it as a winter brew. I doubt this will replace Anchor's OSA or Celebration in many people's heart's anytime soon.

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