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Powder Hound Winter Ale - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Powder Hound Winter AlePowder Hound Winter Ale

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454 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 454
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 12.43%
Wants: 9
Gots: 17 | 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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-13-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 454 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beertunes
3.23/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

Photo of Mora2000
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a golden-orange color with a white head. The aroma is heavy on the toffee with some caramel and grassy hops mixed in. The flavor is toffee and bready malt. There is a little bit of hop bitterness and a tad bit of flavor from the grassy hops, but this beer is all about the malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

When I opened the beer I was expecting a winter warmer. It was a surprise to see a lighter colored amber ale, but the beer was still enjoyable.

Photo of climax
4.28/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I didn't quite know which style Big Sky was aiming at here. I was assuming a darker winter warmer, but after I poured it and took a whiff, it seemed more of a high output Pale Ale. The color was a lighter than anticipated amber, with pretty good clarity. The head was a couple fingers of lumpy tan foam.

The nose is well-balanced, rich on both ends of the spectrum. There's no shortage of juicy hop aromas. They break through with citrus and pine. The malt side of things is sweet, caramel and toffee with a slight dark roasted edge to it. Buttery flavor, nuts, and an herbal earthy presence add to the complexity.

The flavor is quick to impress. It starts as a hop heavy pale ale, with spice and citrus. Lingering pine resin bitterness carries through, but its the malt complexity that impresses me. I began to think it's nothing more than balance (sweet caramel), but then I got strong hints of roasted chocolate followed by ripe fruit and a kiss of alcohol. Truly a joy to break down.

Don't let the color fool you, this one has plenty of gusto. The body is pretty thick with a nice stickiness. Carbonation is crisp from start to finish, and the lingering dry bitterness keeps me sipping. The 7% ABV is evident, but totally acceptable. It adds the extra warmth that elevates this beer to the next level. The style it falls into could be highly controversial, but forget where it fits, and enjoy.

Photo of masey222
3.45/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Much much different then other winter beers that I have had,

Pours an amber with a thicker head,
a moderate hop smell that doesn't lie...
the hops really come through in the drink not ipa bitter but defiantly a hoppy beer and not overly lively, the mellowness of it mixed with the hops makes me want more,
relatively carbonated with a smooth and mellow but crisp feel.

Over all it is a good buy I would not want to drink these in quantity or really with a nice dinner but with a nice big steak or a piece of blackened salmon, something with a-lot of flavor to stand up to it would be a well suited pairing.

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

12 oz. bottle, glad to see a single of this finally,

A: Pours amber with a moderate white head, solid lace.

S: Crystal malt, overall sweet smell with a hint of hops.

T: Crystal malt with a lot of bitterness, very earthy, but nothing really wintery about it.

M: Medium-bodied, soft carbonation, fairly smooth.

D: Solid winter beer, definitely more in the Celebration realm for winter beers. Tasty, but nothing more.

Photo of PCBrewski
3.33/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear light amber almost golden color, one to one and a half fingers of head that reduced quickly to a thin layer, moderate carbonation.

Aroma: A nice peppery hoppy smell, nothing too over powering, but awakens the nostrils.

Taste: A good smack factor from the hops but not too bitter. Pretty well balanced with spice and hops, and has a nice warm after taste.

Overall: I would buy this beer again. Balanced, hoppy, spicy and a great after taste.

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color is a clean, clear, light copper that is probably just few shades past straw. Two and a half fingers of eggshell colored head developed and slowly dissipated to leave a billowy lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: The aroma is faint (probably because of my cold), but I can make out grapefruit citrus, caramel malts, toffee, pine spice, and a little bit of sweet fruit, which other reviewers have labeled pineapple.

Taste: There is a lot of hop and spice action going on, mostly grapefruit and pine. There is also some pepper spice as well. Beneath the hop surface is a nice caramel sweetness that probably keeps the beer from becoming too aggressive. Each sip leaves an adequate bitterness lingering on the tongue and cheeks. The alcohol eventually reveals itself as the beer warms, though it is far from overpowering.

Drinkability: Tasty stuff. Another decent holiday warmer. Too bad it can't cure my cold.

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

Look - clear, light amber in color. Half to one finger's worth of foam that dissipates quickly. Moderate carbonation.

Smell - Hoppy-smelling, there's also a pepperiness or spiciness to it that I can't quite pin down. Very intriguing smell. Hopefully the taste is just as captivating.

Taste - Fairly high level of bitterness from the hops. The spice smell lives on in the taste as well, but I still can't quite define it. I want to say maybe Agave, but I don't think that can be right. Bitterness lingers on in the aftertaste, but only as a guest for the night, as it doesn't linger too long. Texture is fairly well-balanced, but is more on the creamier side.

Drinkability - might be a little too bitter for me to enjoy on many occasions, but I'd keep coming back just for the complexity of it. Nice brew.

Photo of david131
2.98/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- bright orange liquid with thousands of tiny floaters. The white head is thick and has numerous streams of carbonation keeping it alive. Leaves nice lacing as it works its way down the glass.

S- Sweet caramel, steamed asparagus, and maybe a hint of pineapple. Unique, but not very appealing.

T- Sweet caramel and some hoppiness. I don't really know what else to say. Simple.

M- A sticky sweet body with enough carbonation to keep things light.

D- A simple beer that drinks alright, but is quickly forgotten.

Photo of bnes09
3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber in color with exceptional clarity. Thin head forms and leaves a film on top of the liquid. Lacing is minimal.

Strong aroma of pine cones from the hops. Sweet caramel character on the nose as well.

Pine hop flavor carries into the flavor and dominates throughout. Malt sweetness is assertive but over-powered. Just a hint of alcohol warmth. Finish is dry and bitter.

Medium bodied, crisp feel, moderate carbonation.

A little different than what I expected from a winter ale. It seems to fit the profile of a pale ale or maybe even an IPA with the hop domination. Even still, it's a satisfying and tasty treat.

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

Big Sky Brewing Company Powder Hound Winter Ale 2001 12 oz. Bottle. 5.70% ABV. (3.5 / 5.0) Clear burnt copper amber color. Light head and lace. Roasted malty mild Winter spice floral hop front. Semi sweet thick rich roasted sweet spiced cherry biscuit body. Clean sweet hop Winter spice end. Mild. Sampled 12/17/2001.

2002 12 oz. Bottle. 5.80% ABV. (4.0 / 5.0) Clear rich bright copper amber color. Mild head. Rich lace. Roasted mild spice nutmeg hop front. Burnt creamy sweet caramel cherry nut crusty earthy body. Spruce hints in roasted balanced mild hop end. Sampled 12/20/2002.

2003 12 oz. Bottle. 5.80% ABV. (4.0 / 5.0) Rich lacy head. Clear bright copper red color. Malty mild toasted nutmeg hop front. Creamy smooth sweet light toasted biscuit earthy caramel spice fruit body. Balanced mild hop end. Tasty mild Winter ESB. Sampled 1/2/2004.

2004 12 oz. Bottle. 6.20% ABV. 30 IBU's? (4.0 / 5.0) Creamy lacy head. Clear bright dark amber red garnet color. Toasted mild nutmeg hop front. Creamy smooth toasted sweet toffee subdued fruit spice body. Clean smooth mild spice hop end. Mild Winter Ale. Sampled 10/13/2004.

2005 12 oz. Bottle. 6.20% ABV. 45 IBU's? (4.25 / 5.0) Thick light amber lacy head. Clear bright thin dark red color. Tangy cinnamon hop malt spice font. Thick earthy burnt caramel spice medium sweet Winter ESB body. Crusty balanced clean nutmeg hop end. Nicer than I remember. Sampled 10/26/2005.

2006 12 oz. Bottle. 6.20% ABV. 35 IBU's? (4.25 / 5.0) Creamy tan lacy head. Pretty clear bright dark bronze red color. Crisp malty mild nutmeg roasted hop front. Mellow tangy burnt dry sweet toffee fruit nutmeg-malt spice rich body. Clean malt hop spice end. Sampled 9/14/2006.

2007 12 oz. Bottle. 6.20% ABV. 30 IBU's? (4.0 / 5.0) Winter Ale--Malty. 6-Pack $7.49. Dense lacy light tan head. Clear rich deep amber red color. Mild hop malt spice nutmeg hint front. Creamy cloying mild sweet toasted caramel mild fruit spice body. Mild fruit hop spice clean malty end. Tasty Smooth Malty Mild Winter Ale. Sampled 1/13/2008.

2008 12 oz. Bottle. 6.20% ABV. 25 IBU's? (3.5 / 5.0) Winter Ale--Malty. Dense rich lacy tan head. Pretty clear bronze red color. Mild roasted nutmeg spice toasted mild hop front. Dry sweet thin burnt toffee caramel mild sweet malt spice bland body. Dry sweet all spice mild hop citrus hint clean mild end. Bad Buds Bland? Sampled 10/27/2008. 6-Pack $7.49.

2010 12 oz. Bottle. 6.20% ABV. 40 IBU's. (3.5 / 5.0) Winter Ale? Off white thin lace half inch head dissipates quickly. Clear bright thin pretty amber gold color. Delicately toasted mild pine hop front. Earthy crusty mild sweet pale ale caramel malt Winter pine spice hint mild fruit body. Spicy earthy bitter hop end. Crisp, minimal Winter character and slightly odd flavor. Sampled on 10/20/2010 from 6-Pack purchased for $7.99 @ Fred Meyer--Ballard, Seattle on 10/19/2010.

2010 Version 2 12 oz. Bottle. 7.20% ABV. 40 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Winter Ale? Off white lacy dense half inch head. Rich clear bright gold color. Delicate malt spice aromatic winter hop spice front. Crisp tangy rich cloying caramel mild sweet spicy rich pine hint mildly fruity rich malty hoppy body. Clean spicy earthy mildly bitter mild citrus clean bright odd British hop spice end. Sampled on 11/14/2010 from 6-Pack purchased for $7.99 @ PCC--Fremont, Seattle on 11/6/2010.

Photo of Frosty80
4.15/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color: pours golden straw. sits a brilliant, light copper.

Smell: good malt backbone slightly overtaken by mellow, yet pungent European hops. hops are earthy and spicy.

Taste: up front it almost tastes like there is a little bit of rye, followed by smooth, wet maltiness. those earthy, SPICY hops quickly take over and leave a dry, somewhat bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: medium body with low carbonation. pretty smooth.

Notes: an American amber made with British hops? not sure what technical category to put it in but it is a great hoppy amber (ESB maybe?)

Photo of colts9016
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From my notes in December 2008. Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: A one finger light tan/ivory head that has some retention. The color of the beer is a copper with garnet hues. The clarity of the beer is clear with a touch of haziness.

Nose: A nice rich roasted malt with a nice hop aroma. The hops are floral bouquet, pine, and grapefruit. There are also characters of spices.

Taste: A rich roasted malt that is nutty, toffee, caramel, molasses, wood, grapefruit, floral esters. There are notes of spices too.

The mouth feel is warm, creamy, and rich.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium and the finish is medium full. A good winter warmer.

Photo of chumba526
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The ale pours a light reddish color with a small head. The smell is kind of nutty/Smokey, it also smells a bit like orange peels; there is also a slight herbal fragrance to the ale. It tastes of rich roasted malts: the ones that add a slightly bitter Smokey quality to beer. The beer has a noticeable amount of hops; the hops mostly add to the bitterness but there is a slight citrus flavor to them as well. The malts and hops blend nicely with no element really overpowering the other; the carbonation which was low helped the flavors blend together. It is an excellent wintertime beer.

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

The color when poured in a glass was of a medium dark amber. Nice medium very light tan foam with a nice amount of lace on the side of the glass. The smell of light hops witha hint of roasted malts filled the nose with a nice pleasant aroma. The taste of light hops, roasted malts and a hint of citrus was nicely balanced. This is a pleasant winter warmer that's not overpowering on a hoppy flavor. Not overly bitter, just a please feel in the mouth.

Photo of scruffwhor
3.38/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper color with a one finger head that recedes to an ok film of foam. Nice toasted bread and grain aroma with some light grass hops in the nose. The starts with an oily malt of bread and some cooking oil. The middle mellows the oilyness on the palate. As the beer warms, the palate becomes more grainy and malty. Pretty nice session amber ale.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle to a 16 oz American pint

A: Poured a clear dark copper with hints of red. 2-finger cream colored head, which eventually reduced to a thing frothy raft. Creamy thin lace clung to the top part of the glass.

S: Dominated by malted grain with cinnamon and clove.

T: A roasted malty sweetness is paired with slight notes of holiday spice and orange citrus. Hop character is minimal with some lingering bitterness on the finish. For a winter ale, spice character is not overwhelming and somewhat light.

M: Carbonation is sufficient which gives way to a thin mouthfeel due to the under representation of malt. Light for a winter ale

D: The lightness of flavor and body make this a decent session beer.

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

Oh, how I long to revisit Montana where Big Sky is abundant.

This is a decent beer. It has the toffee and malty aromas and flavors typical for a red with a bit of a toffee accent with spices. Flavor is similar with caramel. It starts with a bunch of head then settles leaving behind copious lacing in my Perfect Pour Glass. It goes down good leaving some toffee aftertaste. Overall a nice beer to relax with.

Edit - 1/22/11
Either the recipe was changed or the beer is different than I remember or I got a bad bottle. This one is a medium copper with some floaty sediment. The aroma is hoppy with some citrus. The taste is peculiar, it's hoppy but settles to a somewhat earthy feel with a peculiar tartness that wouldn't fade. The body seems too light for the style. The aftertaste has that tartness and seems a tad sour. I'm not impressed with this release.

Photo of katan
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz into a pint

A - Pours a dark, deep brown color. Appears clear, well filtered, Light head film retained - overall low head size. Off-white to mocha in color. Doesn't appear very carbonated.

S - Sweet caramel and crystal malts - a bit nutty. Some cinnamon and other winter spices are present.

T - Starts off with a warming malt backbone of 2row and some caramel notes. Very spiced, lots of cinnamon. Mid-stream shows some malt and bready notes. Very malt forward. Finishes with a yeasty bite.

M - Thick and strong beer body - carbonation is present but in balance. Leaves behind a cloying sweetness.

D - Deceivingly drinkable. Sweetness and spiciness is excellent on a winter night. A bit filling at times. Flavors are smooth. ABV will sneak up on you.

A very solid "winter warmer" if this were that style.

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

This is a nice sessionable Winter Ale. Not quite what I consider a Winter Warmer nor a Strong Ale, but very mild and enjoyable. Malt flavor is balanced with a nice hop presence, but not anything like the hoppy brews I lean towards. I've had this 3 times this week as it's a nice every day brew to have with food. It compliments bbq and give you a warm feeling without the big alcohol kick.

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

Thanks go out to wasatch for this beer.

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. label depicts a wolf standing in snow. Printing on the neck, but no easily discernible bottling date.

Appearance: Pours with 2 fingers of medium tan head. This settles slowly to a thin yet complete coating, leaving behind nice lacing. The beer itself is a brilliant ruby/copper color. A very, very tiny amount of sediment remains in the bottle.

Smell: Strong caramel malts with underlying sugar sweetness.

Taste: Semi-sweet malt backbone with an ever so slightly vegetal hop bitterness in the finish. Lingering caramel malt.

Mouthfeel: Lower than average carbonation level. Body is good.

Drinkability: An easy drinking beer, but nothing exceptional. I find so many amber ales to be kind of "meh" and this one follows suit.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.38/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep, dark amber body with a frothy, off-white head.

Smell: Gently toasted biscuits with notes of caramel and fruit and just the teeniest, tiniest pinches of lemon zest and spice.

Taste: Toasty, biscuit-like malt overtones with some caramel sweetness present, though overall, the tastes here seem a tad thin. Modest amount of fruitiness. Spicy, lightly citrusy hops with a low bitterness. Up from the taste came a bubblin' herbal quality giving the beer a tea-like flavor on the drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: While it's definitely not the most engaging or alluring of wintertime offerings, it is fairly acceptable for a relatively light seasonal offering.

Photo of champ103
4.13/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark reddish/amber color. A large beige head of over two fingers form with good retention. Lots of sticky lace is left behind.
S: Caramel malt and dried dark fruits. Nutty and light oak notes. Light chocolate. A very faint lingering hop bitterness.
T: Follows the nose. Lots of caramel malt. Some dried dark fruits balances out the sweetness from the caramel. There is a nice almond flavor as well.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. Pretty creamy, smooth, and easy to drink. I can drink this all day.

A really good beer. Big Sky continues to impress me. Highly recommended.

Photo of ThePeskyDingo
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a 1 finger off white head. Beer color is a dull copper brown with some carbonation.

Smells of sweet dried fruits, malts, caramels

Tastes of malts, nuts and dried fruits.

Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied. finishes clean.

Easy to drink. Could drink several in a session if the opportunity presented itself.

Photo of indiapaleale
3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wasatch for this one in a recent trade.

Pours a very dark amber color with a thin, wispy white head that leaves a film after it dissapears.

Smells like caramel, brown sugar, malty sweetness, a bit of cherry or other sweet fruit and a faint hint of alcohol but that might be imagined.

Taste is caramel/brown sugar sweetness immediately on the tongue. This fades to a nice faint hint of hop bitterness that balances things out nicely. This is a well rounded amber/red with a bit of a dry finish and the sweetness is not overpowering.

All in all, this is an easy drinking and sessionable beer. My only question, why is this their winter ale?

Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 454 ratings.