Southern Tier Brewing Company

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American Black Ale
3.8 | pDev: 9.21%
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Notes: Brewed with 3 varieties of Hops, and 3 types of Malts, Oats and Mustcovado sugar.
Reviews: 39 | Ratings: 165 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.52/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance was a dark brown close to black color with a finger’s worth of white foamy head that slid off at a decent pace. Not much lace, somewhat messy. The aroma had a sweet sugary thickness up front over top of some roasted malts coming through slightly like ash, but not too dry with some sweet sticky grapefruit, light resin and a touch of spicy earthiness. The flavor was sweet in the beginning and developed a slight spicy contour to align the sweet with the spice somewhat nicely. Black licorice, somewhat. Aftertaste was mainly sweet with a touch of roast far underneath. Finish was sweet. The palate was medium bodied with a fair sipping quality about it. Some hop abrasion, just enough to tell me that it’s a black IPA and finding it’s ability to try and be a palate wrecker, but not too much. Carbonation felt fine. ABV felt appropriate. Overall, Southern Tier pulled off an interesting and almost overly sweet black IPA but still maintained it’s call by staying within it’s style.

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Photo of Boto
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught @ Headkeeper: This one pours a dark brown color. There was a thin tan head that left lots of lacing. Good nose. Citrus and floral hops, chocolate malts and some roastiness. The taste is good. Chocolate and roasted malts. Citrus hops. Somewhat bitter. Nice!

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Photo of matcris
4.27/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

APPEARANCE: Very dark brown in color with half a finger of tan head that dissipates quickly leaving a ring. Nice looking carbonation when rocking the glass. Spotty lacing down the glass.
AROMA: Citrus, brown sugar, hint of floral, hint of chocolate.
TASTE: Dark roasted malts, minor chocolate, nice brown sugar, slight citrus bitterness on the finish.
FEEL: Good full carbonation, very dry all the way through the sip, medium feel, sticky.
OVERALL: Very nice beer. Drinking this with a year of age on it from a mix six pack, but lots of flavors that go well together.

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Photo of hman43
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look: It pours dark brown with a brown head and some lacing.

Smell: It has citrus aromas, roast, floral, and chocolate.

Taste: There are roast and chocolate flavors with citrus, floral hops. This produces a bittersweet combination overall.

Feel: It has a medium feel to it with a bittersweet finish.

Overall it is balance towards the hops side with a moderate roast and chocolate backbone to it.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.36/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

On tap at Acme Bar and Pizza in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a fairly dark black, with a big white head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like sweet chocolate, roasted malt, licorice, and very slight hop aromas.

This is a black IPA that is more black than IPA. I'm not sure if the keg was old, but Acme is usually fairly solid about turning kegs over, so it might just be a mediocre black IPA. The black base to this is alright, but fairly interesting, nothing new here- some sweet chocolate, a bit of roasted malt, and a little bit of licorice, which is interesting. There's just a little bit of piney bitterness, but hardly anything to support that it's supposed to be a "Double India Style Black Ale." Maybe it's my usual disdain for the style showing a bias here, but I didn't think this was that well constructed.

This is medium bodied, fairly creamy, with a good level of carbonation.

A fairly lackluster take on a fairly lackluster style. Not recommended.

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, very dark brown with ruby highlights when held to the light, producing almost 2 fingers of frothy, light tan, somewhat lasting head that leaves a half inch coating of lace above the collar ring. Aroma is toasted bread & roast, citrus & pine, brown sugar, chocolate, dark fruits & a hint of anise/licorice. Taste has even more malt character than the nose heavy to roast, chocolate, brown sugar/molasses & dark fruit with a burnt note, that mingles & blends well with the hop flavors of citrus & pine, faint anise/licorice for a well balanced finish & aftertaste. Alcohol is well hidden & the oats provide a divine creaminess. Mouthfeel is moderate-heavy bodied with moderate carbonation, creamy, slick & coating. Nicely done!

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Photo of Act25
3.86/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Perhaps it was the olives, marinated veg, cheese and baggette, and the 64 F day in Feb, but this was an elegant finish to the light.

A. It's dark brown, not black, and sports a short tan head that fades fast, and leaves but dotty lace. Seen better.

S: The aroma offers licorice, chocolate, coffee, wrinkled dark fruit, roasted malts and grassy hops. But slight.

T: The taste follows smell, and starts sweet with licorice, chocolate, dark fruit, up front. Second, a roasty malt character arrives and takes you to the finish with slight hop bitter. Good food complement. The after-taste is licorice/jammy and slightly toasted, salty dark bread. (Good contrast -definitely a 4 with food.)

M: Crisp, smooth, medium body, carbonation, finish is dry, salty, and slightly sticky.

O: A saltier, roastier take on the style, with licorice as the predominant sweet note. Well done with good feel and gravitas.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very dark brown color with a bit of red background. No head to speak of.
Aroma of dark fruit, chocolate, and pine.
Taste followed the nose. Chocolate, raisins, and pine resin.
The last few black IPAs I have tried have reminded me of a hoppy stout, and this is no exception.

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Photo of biegaman
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2XIBA is a self-proclaimed "double india style black ale" that isn't actually black. Colour is easy to spot, clarity too for that matter. Its shadowy brown body isn't really all that dark; currant-like highlights enliven it. The head, however, is a few shades deeper than norm and is too tarnished to be called white.

Black IPAs remind me of root beer insofar as they pair disparate but highly distinctive elements. In this case it's merely the impression of evergreen, balsam fir, tree bark, roots, chocolate, anise and molasses rather the physical ingredients themselves (though muscovado sugar is actually added).

The first taste evoked a furrowed brow - not exactly what I was expecting. I suspect this bottle (purchased at a prominent retailer in upstate New York) may not be exactly 'fresh' but without a 'bottled on' or 'best before' date I can't be sure. That's something Southern Tier aught to consider...

What's tasted is a tired, considerably worn-out flavour profile consisting primarily of stale coffee, oxidized chocolate chips and over-steeped tea. While I know hops were historically used a preservatives, in the modern context - and especially for this style - they should be bold and lively. Alas, they are not.

Obviously, this is partly because the unrefined, strongly molasses-like, sweet muscovado sugar cuts into the earthy, pungent, flowery bitterness of those three undisclosed types of hops. The finish sometimes resembles a particularly spicy gingerbread, with boozy esters adding a fruitcake-like note.

One of these days I'll make the four hour drive to Lakewood, NY. When I do, 2XIBA will be one of the first beers I try because, frankly, it's one of the few from Southern Tier to date I haven't really enjoyed (we're talking over a decade of reviewing their beers). Maybe it's better than this, maybe not. Buy at your risk.

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Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany leaning towards black with a caramel colored head with little retention.

Smells heavy of floral hops backed by sweet malt and dark fruit - plumb, raisin, and fig - with some resinous pine.

taste is resinous pine up front backed by a chewy thick malt middle with a drying dark fruit finish notes of fig and plumb. A very tasty beer maybe more of a hoppy stout than a black ipa.

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Photo of kalosjakar
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark black/brown with no head.

Smells sweet, molasses, malt, hints of alcohol.

Good mouthfeel, slightly fizzy, plenty of carbonation.
Dark maltiness to the taste. Maybe some brown sugar coming thru. I like black ales, to me they are unique. Ever since I tried Xingu for the first timem. This is a good beer.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, coffee, dark fruit, licorice, roasted malts and some hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of chocolate, dark fruit, coffee and licorice. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is weak for the style but it still brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it’s a decent beer but there are better choices within the style.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a midnight black with a one finger off-white head.

S - Aroma is grapefruit peel, piney hops, and roasted malts. Light sticky lacing.

T - The taste is roasted malts and chocolate upfront with some grapefruit and piney hops in the finish.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Crisp mouthfeel with a dry finish.

O - A solid Black Ale. Not overly complex, but very drinkable.

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Photo of fscottkey
2.82/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

A: [3.50] Dark brown to black. It is cola color along the edges. The beer has 1/2 finger of foamy off white head. The bottle lists the ABV (8.0%) I could not find a date.

S: [2.75] Almost nothing on the nose. The beer is fridge temp but I get nothing. Maybe the slightest hint of dark fruit.

T: [2.75] Chocolate and a hint of bitter on the finish.

M: [3.00] Medium body. No sense of alcohol or carbonation or finish.

O: [2.75] This does not hold a candle to Southern Tier Iniquity. They should just put Iniquity in 12 oz. bottles. I feel like I am drinking nothing. For 8% this has no aroma, very minimal flavor and nothing substantial on the body. There is nothing "Bad" about this beer. There is also nothing good about it. It is completely forgettable.

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Photo of Stevem68
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark chocolate color. Has a toasted malt aroma. Flavor is roasted malts with a hop background notes. Overall it's a drinkable beer but nothing amazing

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Photo of sbecker92
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

S: Nice black color with a light tan head. in the light you may even notice some caramel color.
A: Sweat pine aroma with hints of honey.
T: Has a nice dry taste and then I get notes of sugar and molasses. I also get hints of oats mid taste.
F: Slight water feel and then you get a mouth full with a slight bubble on top. it kinda coats your throat as it goes down too .

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Photo of JMS1512
4.29/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On the docket: Southern Tier’s 2XIBA. Born on date: 7/21/15. Not the freshest, but certainly within acceptable standards.

Poured into: Snorkel Snifter with gusto.

S: A head so khaki it makes my Docker’s look inept. I might say “nice pants.” Thick, uniform, thousands of microscopic bubbles. Thorough but soapy lacing. Underneath this nice set of pants, the body shows off a deep, dark, brown-black with a pleasant orange glow at the base, but you really have to look for it. Set behind the powder blue octopus and yellow lettering on the outside of the snifter, it’s quite artistic.

A: Hops greet you immediately with pine, mango, melon trio. A dark roasted malt aroma follows, with just a hint of sweetness and boozy heat. Faint whispers of raisin or another dark fruit and molasses.

T: I need to describe the experience back to front: Scorpion-shell dryness and a sting of bitter hoppiness. Mid-way through the smooth oats and dark, rum-like sugar sweetness. It starts roasty, with pumpernickel bread which carries into the middle.

F: Medium light, smooth due to the use of oats- definitely sense the “oatmeal stout” fluffiness. Prickly carbonation, enough to lift some of the sweetness away. It’s hard to see the bubble activity due to the SRM that must be about 40 or so. Dry finish, it’s a good thing because of the sugar present in the brew. Despite the 8% abv, no alarming sense of heat from the alcohols.

O: ST beings you a dark party in your mouth. It’s complex, a balance of dark, bitter, sweet, and creamy. These guys seldom disappoint. I’d love to try this fresh out of the tank. I’d call this a one-at-a-time brew due to the intensity of the palate (2IPA strength not withstanding). Fans of Carton’s Epitome or Founder’s Dark Penance would enjoy this (I loved both). Nice spin on ADAs with the addition of the Muscovado sugar, you can taste it.

S: 4 A: 4.25 T: 4.5 F: 3.75 o: 4.25

Suggested food pairing: a tough one, but perhaps tangy barbecue pulled-pork sliders, Danish bleu cheese, bread pudding or dark chocolate brownie

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Photo of atr2605
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-pours black with a tan head with good retention
S-lots of roasted coffee, cocoa, pine
T-more cocoa and roasted coffee flavors, pine bitterness and citrus flavors on the finish
O-Not a bad black ale, much more roasted than some other versions of the style. worth trying

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Photo of Immortale25
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Dogfish traditional oversized snifter. Base of bottle says DOB 07/14/15.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of surface foam. Bubbly, semi-resilient lacing slides slowly down the glass.

S-Earthy hop aroma with a solid roasted malt backing and traces of booze. Somewhat sweet with a honey-like characteristic.

T- Good balance of hops and roast with a pronounced and lingering bitterness. Very drinkable for the ABV and the slight sweetness is there, same as in the aroma.

M- A little bitey from the hops and booze with medium carbonation and a full body.

O- Southern Tier keeps doing what they do best: making palatable high gravity beers that aren't incredibly complex but get the job done well.

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Photo of Kendo
3.79/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from the bottle into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. On the pour it looks brown, but in the glass it appears black, with a half-finger light-tan head that settles quickly.

S: Burnt brown sugar malt and earthy hops. Not a terribly strong nose.

T: First impression is of burnt charcoal. On second sip, I get more sugary-sweet malt (brown sugar keeps coming to mind), roasted barley malt and some woodsy tannins, but that burnt carbon really lingers on the palate and offsets the sweetness. Heat from that 8% ABV is felt in the belly right away (though that could be because I'm drinking this on what is more or less an empty stomach, before dinner). As it warms (and my palate adjusts a little - or at least gets used to that charcoal taste) I get a little bit of citrusy hops - think clementine oranges - on the back end of the tongue.

M: Let's call it medium in heft. Feels slightly thin on the body, however. Carbonation is modest, which is good, because anything sharper would likely give that burnt charcoal taste quite a bite.

O: This is good, though not exactly what I look for in an American Black Ale/Black IPA. Comes down squarely on the roasty, burnt charcoal/earthy side of the ledger, when I prefer a bit more of the chocolatey/piney flavors.

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Photo of jp32
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours black in color with a khaki colored head. Not black like an imperial stout, but black like a schwarzbier, or something thinner than a stout anyway.

The aroma is tart, hoppy, and sweet. The more it warms the sweeter the aroma gets until I eventually believe it smells like maple syrup.

The flavor is roasty and earthy with a high level of malt sweetness. The hops are present, but definitely take a back seat to the malt's representation here.

Somewhere around medium bodied. It could probably use a tad better carbonation. The 8.0% is well hidden.

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Photo of Mongrel
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smells lightly piney and zesty, but also earthy and woodsy. Not outrageous, but nice.

Taste follows the nose - zippy hops up front followed by a surprisingly substantial roasty note. Citrus rind bitterness closes things out. Tobacco and plum notes play throughout. Nice balance and execution.

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Photo of teromous
2.47/5  rDev -35%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

No date code on the label.

Appearance: Pitch black with a light tan creamy head with good lacing and head retention.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and burnt sugar. No hop presence detectable

Taste: There is a sweet caramel taste laced with the strong carbon flavor of charcoal. There is some mint character to the beer but otherwise no real hop flavor is detectable.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is good for a beer like this. There is a good amount of bitterness and the body is full enough.

Overall: The lack of hop presence in this beer leaves it as a great disappointment given that it is an ABA. There is a lot of charcoal and toasted caramel flavor to the beer that leaves much to be desired in the realm of freshness and hop character. I don't recommend this beer.

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Photo of 57md
3.84/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark brown with less than a finger of head. The nose has mild notes of rye bread and hops but nothing here really turns on my senses. There is nice balance between the malt backbone and the hop finish. The hop bitterness seems to grow as one moves down the glass but there is also a sweet note that pokes through. The body is spot on for the style and the rich creamy mouthfeel works well.

The ST website states that they "reimagined" the retired Iniquity when crafting this beer. This beer is certainly good but I wish that they just brought back Iniquity.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours a deep opaque brown, slight cherry read hue when held up to light. Head is a half inch thick, pillowy, and a very light tan color. It retains indefinitely.

Smells of caramel, buttered biscuit, and fresh floral hops. Dry woody undertone.

Flavor is of biscuit and a slight wooden maltiness mixed with honey and a citrusy floral hoppiness.

Medium to full body with stinging carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

Another excellent beer from the 2X series. This one is an interesting kind of hybrid of styles with a lot of IPA qualities mixed in over the more expected characteristics of a dark beer. While not as good as the 2XIPA or 2XSTout, this certainly lives up to the high standard of ST's 2X beers.

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2XIBA from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 165 ratings