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Powder Hound Winter Ale - Big Sky Brewing Company

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Powder Hound Winter AlePowder Hound Winter Ale

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479 Ratings
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Ratings: 479
Reviews: 243
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 12.12%
Wants: 9
Gots: 24 | 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: 479 | Reviews: 243
Photo of twiggamortis420
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber color with a thick layer of fine-bubbled beige foam. Pretty good retention and some decent lacing on the glass.

Smells like a caramel covered apple, the sweet bready and slightly toasted malts are complimented by a touch of yeasty fruitiness and just a hint of grassy hops.

Taste is pretty good with a wide variety of maltiness on the palate...grainy, toasty, nutty and even a bit of cocoa. Decent hop bitterness lingers a bit on the back of the tongue. A bit light bodied and flavored for the 'Winter Ale' designation on the label, especially from a snowy, cold northern state. It is a pretty easy drinker and tastes great for an amber ale, which is what I am rating it as. I would drink it again and me thinks it would be even better fresh off the tap.

Photo of Birmingham
2.5/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Aroma: Malts and dried fruits.

Appearance: Powder Hound pours dark copper with a tall persistent off white head and moderate carbonation

Flavor: Initial bitterness is quite over powering. There are some malt or dried fruits notes. By the end if the beer the bitterness is tamed, but the malts stay in back ground.

Mouth Feel: Thick body and cloying.

Overall Impression: The bitterness is too prominent for the malt back bone; it is a little out of balance. The malts never show up.

Photo of jwc215
3.92/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wasatch for including in a trade!

Pours copperish amber - nice clarity - with a thin head that becomes a wisp leaving some traces of lacing.

The smell is of nuts, caramel and a hint of minty spicing.

The taste is nutty and caramelish - towards toffeeish. A spicy hop touch balances out the sweetness in the finish.
Malt accented with a hop touch.


Not a spiced winter brew, but a nice malty (but with a hop balance and a hint of warmth) brew. Could see how it fits with "winter", though did well on a cold, rainy spring day. Easy to drink despite hint of warmth. An enjoyable brew!

Photo of tangentrider
3.32/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- clear, red/brown beer with red highlights when held to the light; no appreciable head

S- sweet, dried fruit aromas, with very faint spice in the back

T- dried fruit, with grapefruit hoppiness; finish is bitter

MF- medium weight mouthfeel, with a carbonation bite that edges on over carbonation

D- Okay beer; I would drink it if offered, but probably won't buy one.

Photo of DukeofAle
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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

As Missoula, Montana's Big Sky Brewing is the purveyor of Moose Drool, one of my favorite browns from last year, I had big expectations for their winter offering. As a "winter warmer," their Powder Hound Winter Ale is pretty subtle--which is a good thing at this point. I was getting tired of all the beers in my fridge tasting like repossessed gingerbread house.

The Hound forms a nice, tenacious eggshell-colored head and throws a warm caramel-malty nose. There is a small hint of nutmeg, the misunderstood crown prince of the winter spices, but all in all what we have here is a really decent British-style brown ale. The hops don't really come into play until a late, final note on the back of the tongue.

I've yet to do a side-by-side tasting with Moose Drool, but really, with the days getting noticeably longer, our attention turns to beers of a hoppier nature ... maybe next year.

Photo of panacea
3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice beer, but honestly, it tastes like the wasabi I mix with soy sauce when eating sushi. Oddly enough, I love the taste when eating sushi... sometimes I drink it straight. But it's weird in a beer!! It's mostly in the finish and smell. Overall, Powder Hound still resembles a winter ale, with a deep nutty maltiness and a bit of hoppiness (less than most winter ales)... but I never want to buy a 6-pack of it again. Not that it's bad, it's just a spooky reminder of eating sushi.

Photo of pmcadamis
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This one is a medium brown hue that shows some garnet highlights under the big fluffy tan head. Big sheets of lace coat the glass, and head retention is awesome. Sitting on my desk in the wintry snow sunlight, this looks translucent and luminescent. Good lookin' brew!

S - Nutty brown ale notes, wet firewood, and a hint of brown sugar. Unsalted almonds, chestnuts, and walnuts. Some maple syrup is there, nut only just.

T - Earthy, nutty, and rich. This is really nutty, and it takes he whole "winter spice" aspect of the style to a different place. Unlike other winter brews, this one avoids cinnamon ad nutmeg in favor of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

M - Medium bodied, lightly carbonated, and quite dry. The dusty dry finish works well with the nutty complexity.

D - Pretty damn good stuff. It won't wow you or knock your socks off, but it is a really solidly built brew.

Photo of mdcrouser
3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
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.

Photo of lhaqq
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Clear amber body and a billowy fluffy coffee-colored head with great lacing on the glass and about 3mm on top throughout drinking.
S: Smells like a dark lager, pretty sweet overall. Malty and some honey.
T: Sweet malts, light and dark, up front. Diacetyl and some alcohol and banana, with the banana and some smokiness finishing off the taste.
M: Smooth. Maybe a bit too sweet overall but not bad.
D: A great beer to have in winter months. Probably could have a couple but the sweetness may get to be too much after this.

Photo of CaptainIPA
3.18/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

Photo of kosmoraios
3.35/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish-brown with a small off-white head that laces slightly and leaves a ring on top.

Aroma is of herbal hops and toasted malt. Taste is hoppy - herbal and piney with a good amount of bitterness. Caramel sweetness and toasted sourdough bread. Not too light, but could be a bit heavier and creamier for a winter warmer. Decent mouthfeel with ample carbonation and peppery finish.

Photo of hopdog
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a medium to deeper orangish color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of toffee, caramel, roast, and chocolate. Tastes of toffee, roasted and toasted malts, and I was getting a lighter fruitiness.

Notes from and tasted on 02/01/08.

Photo of madtappers
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Very drinkable winter seasonal. This beer has the right amount of hops and malt to balance out the taste. Seems to be more of a traditional ale than a winter warmer.

Great beer to session, and share with some friends.

Big Sky always has had good beers and this "winter" seasonal proves it.

Photo of zeff80
4.07/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a bubbly, copper color with a small, tan, foamy head. It left small, thin traces of lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt, floral notes and it had an earthy quality.

T - It tasted of biscuity, sweet caramel malt. It had a nice spicy hop kick.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a nicely balanced amber ale with good doses of sweet malt and spicy hops.

Photo of tbeck
3.98/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber, almost brown with a creamy one finger brown head. It has a slight clarity, darker than some other ales. Aroma is simple, malty sweetness and fruity. Very smooth taste, a lot of malt but well balanced sweetness. Hints of chocolate and coffee with a slight hoppy bitterness. Good body but not heavy with a slight chewy texture. A very enjoyable ale, highly recommended as a session beer and one to try.

Photo of Rayek
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep brown with a decent off-white head thta has OK retention. Leaves bits of lace.

S: Mostly malty, with caramel, toffee and a touch of pine.

T: Not very exciting, but still good. A very balanced beer with a toasted maltiness up front and mild citrus and pine bitterness in back.

M: Medium body has the right amount of fizz.

D: One of the weaker winter seasonals I've had. A decent beer nonetheless that holds it's own away from other winter offerings.

Photo of magictrokini
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

Photo of CHSLBrew
3.36/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a large mug.

A-Copper colored beer, very clear, topped with a large-bubbled tan head. Moderate to low retention, the head reduced to a thin layer with minimal lacing.

S-Mostly a nutty and bicuity maltiness. Maybe some toasty hints, as well. No hop aroma.

T-Dominating nutty malts, with tones of a slight spiciness. When the nutty flavors subside, hints of caramel are able to emerge. These malts are balanced by a just-enough bitterness.

M-Moderate carbonation. This beer has a body that is a little thinner than I expected.

D-OK drinkability. I wasn't terribly impressed by this beer. Still, it's an enjoyable brown/amber ale that's easy and enjoyable to drink.

Photo of thehand
3.36/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Samuel Smith pint glass. Pours a medium dark amber-orange color, with about 1" of tan slightly rocky head. Head dissipates pretty quickly leaving a thin layer of foam and no real lacing to speak of. Aroma is light and sweet, mostly caramel and malt. Tastes a little sweet up front, caramel, touch of hops balanced nicely. Finishes dry with a little earthy hoppiness that tends to stick around. Mouthfeel is pretty light, creamy, low carbonation. Light mouthfeel makes it easy to drink, the finish gives you a little more to think about after each drink. Nice winter seasonal.

Photo of xymyl
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear deep red/amber with a fluffy tan head that lasts surprisingly long for the lightness of the beer.

Smell is caramel, dough and fruit (apples and grapes), with light floral hops.

Taste is simple with plenty of caramel, but bottoms out in the middle just like Moose Drool (although this is far better than Moose Drool).

Light, simple and refreshing... NOT a winter warmer & too much caramel to mow the lawn with. But I still liked it. The best I've had from Big Sky.

Photo of MTNboy
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It is a good deep bronze color with a thin tan head but produced some really nice lace.

Smell: A little bit fruity but mainly malty smell.

Taste: It flavor is mostly chocolaty and malty not much for hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

Drinkability: It is probably one of their better beers.

Photo of Ragingbull
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber in color with flares of red and brown in the light. Heavy and thick mocha colored foam head after pouring into a pint glass. Still. Mild malty nose. . . so mild that its barely detectable. Smooth clean attack that almost creates a sweet sensation. Finishes with some hops that continue to grow bitter all the way through the aftertaste. Mild nut flavor seems to be present. I would rate it a B- myself.

Photo of KeefD
3.07/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.21/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 479 ratings.