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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.
BA SCORE
82
good

470 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 470
Reviews: 240
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 12.15%
Wants: 9
Gots: 23 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 470 | Reviews: 240 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mitchster
3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$1.89 for a 12oz single @ Jacks. 7.2% ABV per the website. Hopped with Hallertau, Palisade, and Amarillo.

Pours out to a slightly hazy burnt orange, light amber, forming a tall whipped meringue like light yellow head with superior retention and solid thick sheeys of bubbly lace. Very nice looking beer. Moderately strong carbonation provides a nice stream of bubbles. Prickly mouthfeel with a medium dense body. The nose is a nice blend of up front grassy hops sitting on top of a nice malt body. I love the Amarillo skunk funk. Suggestion of toast and biscuits, red apples and pears. The taste is a recap of the aroma...spicy but not overwhelming hops tickle the tongue at first, then it's followed by a nice biscuity malt with vanilla and fruit, even a touch of tangerines. There is residual saccharin sweetness which offsets the medium herbal bitterness. Lots of fruit esters...tastes like Wyeast British Ale yeast. The finish reminds me of black tea with a hint of sugar.

A peculiar but good beer. It has a certain twang to it

Photo of imagese
3.57/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- hazy golden with a one finger head that faded quickly, hung around as a fine layer, and left light spotty lacing

S- grassy hops, apple, and a lot of yeasty spice. This smells like lager yeast was used

T- bitter apple and grassy hop combo along with a nice spiciness. There is a strong boozy yeast finish

M
- crisp and dry light body and nice carbonation

D- interesting beer. Very easy drinking. Not a typical winter ale at all

I could swear that this an attempt at an imperial pilsener.

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

The last Big Sky beer I had was a couple of years ago. I thought it was OK and never felt the need to go and try more. Since I've been asked and convinced to try another and review it. I like pretty much every winter ale I come across so I thought getting the Powder Hound would be a good choice, and it was. Let's see what the mountain folk of Montana came up with!

Like most beers that are good, I knew this one was just by pouring it out. Its aroma hit my nostrils pretty fast, but that'll be touched on later. The Powder Hound has a great head on it. It's thick, foamy, off-white in color, and leaves plenty of lacing as well as leaving a foamy film on the surface throughout drinking the beer that is a clear golden-orange. The smell is wonderful. To me it smells like a sugary cookie in some ways. Sweet malts and earthy hops are dominant with citrus present underneath. I don't get that floral aroma like most pale ales have from the hops but that's not a negative toward this beer. It smells like a winter ale should be: hoppy, plenty of malt, and earthy.

I think what I enjoy most about Powder Hound is the mouthfeel and balance of flavor. Hops are most prevalent but there isn't too much bitterness. It's very nice though. Instead it has a more earthy-spicy flavor that's not overwhelming. Mango citrus tang follows the hops with malty sweetness and a light roastiness. When drinking this I think of sitting by a fire after being outside in the cold and snow. In this case I guess the Powder Hound has done its job of being a winter ale since it makes me imagine drinking it in the winter. :P Hop bitterness and citrus do linger at the very end in the mouth. There's nothing like good flavors lingering to help you have a more lasting enjoyment of the beer. Although I don't think this beer is extraordinary, it is definitely very good. It's a great example of a quintessential winter ale. If you're snowed in then get this one!

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass on 10/22.
Appears amber in the glass with a thin white head- disappears quickly and leaves little lace. I can smell the maltiness immediately. A bit of herbal hops and some spicy notes detected as well. It tastes as it smells. This brew is crisp but gets syrupy as it warms. Dry finish and is medium bodied while cold but thickens warm. Low carbonation. This ale is perhaps a little above average but not great.

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

Enjoyed this one on tap at the top of Big Mountain in Whitefish.

A - Pours a crystal clear amber red, finger of head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - Some earthy hops followed by caramel and toffee malts.

T - Much like the scent, a hopped up amber ale with a touch of peppery spice on the finish. The bready caramel malts linger of the finish with some bitter earthy hops.

M - Medium bodied ale that goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

D - A very tasty amber ale. I really enjoyed many of the amber ales I indulged while visiting Montana, as many struck a nice hop/malt balance. Easily sessionable.

Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a two finger head that displays good stickage and leaves shards of lace

Smell: Sweet malt and caramel aromas as well as a hint of piney hop

Taste: While there is a biscuity malt flavor, up front, that merges with caramel, the piney hop notes quickly arrive to balance out the sweeter flavors; after the swallow, the flavors are nicely balanced with some winter warmer elements but, overall, this is a very hoppy beer for the style; a tingle of mint on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A beer that combines a range of styles, this is a nicely balanced beer with enough flavor to keep one's attention

Thanks, sholle, for the opportunity

Photo of TexIndy
4.45/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Best by date of 3/29/11 on the neck. It was a clear, medium amber color with some carb streams. It had a thick white head that slowly settled into a thick collar and thin cover of foam. Good lacing with plenty sticking.

The aroma was excellent with spicy and citric hops along with caramel malt. Really like the aroma on this one. Kept going back from sniff after sniff. The taste was also great and followed the aroma with the spicy and citric hops leading the way. Mini session beer on taste. The mouthfeel was medium with good carbonation and pleasing aftertaste.

Overall, I'd been avoiding this one as I thought it was a winter warmer style but it's not. Glad I finally tried it as it greatly surprised me with it's rich aroma and flavor. Highly recommend. Avail here in TX. Rotation - it's an Oct-Jan seasonal. Worth a 6 pack spread out over that time for sure. [R; Y]

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

Appearance: Amber with a small off-white head

Smell: Strong citrus with a bit of caramel

Taste: Sweet citrus, mostly orange, with a nice amount of malt that balances out the taste. Definitely tastes more of a red ale than a winter ale to me.

Mouthfeel: Very crisp with nice carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable and could easily drink several before the 7.2% ABV caught up with me. Gracias to my nephew Chad who introduced me to this beer.

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

Beautiful looking, deep ruby-brown with light tan head. Spicy aroma, with a nuttiness and notes of clove. Taste didn't live up to the nose, but did have a nice hoppy finish (guessing noble hops). Thick, rich mouthfeel and a good brew overall. Certainly on spot for the style.

Photo of matjack85
4.23/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I found this single 12oz brown bottle at the Binny's store in Plainfield, IL for $1.69. I love the labels from this brewery. Not sure what style category this beer falls under though as the label says it's a winter ale, yet I see the Beer Advocate braintrust has listed it as an American Amber/Red Ale. After trying it, all I can say is that it has traits of both styles.

The beer poured a hazy orange/amber color with a nice 1½-finger creamy looking white head that lasted several minutes befire settling down. There was also plenty of lacing left on the glass with each sip.

Light but pleasant smell of sweet malt combined with various hop varieties.

Nice use of the three hop varieties to give the beer a little complexity. Definitely hop dominated, but not overly bitter. Citrus and pine hops are balanced with just enough sweet malt and peppery spices to make this a really good tasting beer.

Light to medium bodied with medium to high carbonation. At 7.2%abv I expected a little warming alcohol taste, but there really wasn't any. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

I enjoyed this as just a good tasting beer, but not sure it qualifies as a winter warmer. Lots of flavor, but on the light side rather than full bodied, and while it is spicy, I don't usually associate pepper as a winter spice. Whatever it is, it tastes good and is easy to drink.

Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.07/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big Sky's version of a winter ale enters the glass, revealing an amber colored liquid with a dishwater head. The color is lighter than I expect for a winter ale--portentous it seems. The aroma is a nice mixture of caramel malt, biscuit, and citrus and pine from the hops. As I take the first imbibition hops race across the palate making this beer feel more akin to a pale ale than a winter ale. The pine and citrus from the hops is not able to overpower the caramel and nuttiness from the malt. The interplay between the hops and malt is just right. This well balanced brew is a winter delight. Drinkable indeed.

Photo of zhanson88
3.81/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Iron Horse Brewpub in Missoula.

Appearance: Powder Hound comes out a clear pale gold color with a finger of very fine head. Retention is great and lacing stays abundant. This looks fantastic on draft.

Smell: I get some biscuity and caramel malts, then a lot of citrus and estery notes, with light hops on the end. Interesting.

Taste: Caramel malts form the base of this beer, then I get citrus and a ton of esters. A medium amount of hops on the back end.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Pretty light on body with quite a bit of carbonation. Not overly impressive. Overall, this is a beer that seems fairly unique to me for the style and is very easy to drink.

Photo of drizzam
3.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark rusty brown in color, topped by a beige one finger head. Decent head retention which left a good veil of lacing down the inside of my glass.

S - Heavy toasted malt aroma with hints of dark bitter bakers chocolate loitering about.

T & M - A nice malty backbone, just a bit toward the roasted side. Chocolate and a bit of light caramel provide depth to the semi-roasted malt. Medium bodied and actually rather crisp. A slight creaminess in the body. The alcohol is very well hidden considering the 7.2% ABV. Actually, I just noticed that the ABV listed on the bottle is 6.2% which makes more sense. I wonder how you change that on this site?

D - A solid offering from Big Sky. I could drink more than one in a sitting. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
3.42/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass

A: No real head to speak of. Light amber-golden with fast moving carbonation.

S: The flowery hop aroma sits lightly over something like cooked rice.

T: Winter Ale? Tastes like a fresh hop bud rolled in light Muscovado sugar. I would enjoy this on a summer or early fall patio. Winter is alluding me. Almost has berry notes on the finish before the bitter. Sweet grass?

M: Feels good. The hops pull at the middle of the tongue and cheeks while the sugars and malt fill the rest of my mouth.

D: I like it but I can't get over the idea of a "winter ale". It's good, but not winter.

Photo of wolfinthemirror
4.05/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a cloudy orange caramel color and a nice off white head sticks around for a while.

Smells very hop forward, sweet orange and grassy hop notes mostly.

big, bright hops hit me first, and then it's backed up with a nice caramel malt backbone. It has that classic, spicy quality that I like in winter warmers.

Medium bodied, moderately carbonated.

This is a very enjoyable winter warmer, I could drink these fairly often if they didn't sell out so quickly. I think I'll make it a habit of drinking Powder Hound every winter.

Photo of GRPunk
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- A moderate pour left a 2-finger, pillowy, khaki head with what looked like a spot of yeast left behind. The head sustains at about 1/2-finger and leaves fluffy rings on the glass. The body was a clean amber that was just slightly hazed and had loads of carbonation.

S- It was pretty sweetish at first. I got caramel malts, citrus and earthy hops. There was an orange zest quality that almost seemed juicy. Later on I picked up some husky grains, maybe brought on by some warmth.

T- Really well balanced. There was slightly burnt caramel, herbal and citrus hops. The hopping clean and dry the finish. There was some toasted and cereal-like grains in the middle-to-end.

M- Sips are through a fairly frothy head. It's fairly full-bodied. There was a pleasant grainy quality. It had a very dry finish.

D- It came across as an amber that's had everything ratcheted up a notch. Very flavorful. As a winter seasonal, it's a nice seitch from some of the overly-spiced, alcohol bombs out there. At first I thought this would be some kind of a "sessionable" seasonal. However, it ended up a little too bold for a bunch in any one sitting. Not really a sipper, but definitely not a chugger.

Photo of beertunes
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
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
4.25/5  rDev +17.4%
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
3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
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
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
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
3.62/5  rDev 0%
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
2.96/5  rDev -18.2%
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.

Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 470 ratings.