Imperial Cherry Saison
Southern Tier Brewing Company

Imperial Cherry SaisonImperial Cherry Saison
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Belgian Saison
3.6 | pDev: 15.83%
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Imperial Cherry SaisonImperial Cherry Saison
Reviews: 296 | Ratings: 329 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Boto
2.8/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

22oz. bomber: This one was hiding at the back of the fridge, where it has been since I got it. It pours a fairly clear, golden color. There was very little head on it, and left no lacing. Interesting aroma. Hint of sour cherries, some oak, faint spices. Earthy, a bit funky, but doesn’t smell infected. Taste is interesting. Some tart cherry, bready, some candi sugar. It’s not very sweet, but there seems to be an underlying subtle sickly sweetness to it. It should probably stay retired.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 3/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a slightly cloudy yellow amber, one finger white head and lacing. Aroma of cherry, citrus and esters. Mild saison start, tart sour middle and sour and bitter finish. A bit too sour on the finish for me, although the body and start are OK.

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Photo of superspak
3.35/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 ounce bottle into tulip, no bottling date. This could be pretty old since it is retired now. Pours extremely hazy orange amber color with a fairly dense 2 finger off white head with good retention; that reduces to a thin lacing cap that lasts. Fair amount of lacing clings to the glass as well. Aromas of big tart cherries, apple, lemon zest, grass, candi sugar, spices, bread, and a bit of funkiness as well. Surprisingly nice aromas with good strength and balance. I like my saisons funky. Taste of big bread, pepper, spices, banana, wood, candi sugar, cherry, and some tart graininess in the back. No bitterness; with lingering notes of tart cherry, pepper, bread, and spices on the finish for a bit. The wheat malt is definitely more noticeable on the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy and slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with only a warming on the finish noticed. Fairly smooth drinking, but this is still quite a sipper. This is not cloying surprisingly, but i would have liked a better flavor balance. A little difficult to drink at times because of the flavor balance. Overall a fairly enjoyable saison, but it needed better flavor balance with a bit more cherry in the taste. Overall I say it was worth a try.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.52/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Golden orange and fizzy, moderate head/lacing.

Smelled and tasted lightly cherry, with a typically imperial series oiliness, fruits, maltiness, and a bit of bitter.

The body is pretty full but again, the oily tendency of this series shows itself. Of the four I've tried so far, the imperial series is good, but seems to be "on a theme" of similar formulas.

Overall it's about average, and about average for a saison.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.21/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a great looking beer. The body is bronze with a perfect amount of lace and head. There are more hops tones to the aroma than cherry. There is definitely some sweetness to the aroma. The taste is sour much like a limbic but it is also adjunct like cough medicine too. The mouth feel is full. It is not as sweet as the aroma would have one believe nor is it grassy like most saisons.

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Photo of jlindros
3.67/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BlessedBeBeer for cracking this.

Pours a hazy golden orange color with light fizzy head.

Nose has lots of fruit, apple, cherry, apricot, light golden sweet malts, touch of spice and citrus.

Taste is sweet as usual for Southern Tier, sweet malts, bit syrupy, golden malts, fruits again with apricot, cherry, apple, some cherry pit taste, touch of bitterness, sweet malty finish, and some booze on the finish.

Mouth is med bodied, touch of booze, lower carb.

Overall not bad but not great, overly sweet as usual, fruity but not what I was expecting, the sweetness balances the booze well though.

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Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz poured into a snifter

Pours a hazy orange. Smells of Belgian yeast and spice. Taste is cherries, coriander, and Belgian yeast. There is quite a bit of alcohol that comes through in the finish. Mouthfeel is very light; quite a good deal of carbonation, almost champagne like.

Not a bad beer at all, I'm glad I came across it.

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Photo of Knapp85
2.95/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was really pumped to try this and I was let down drastically. I had a mindset of how this beer would taste and I was way off. This beer poured out a lightly hazy golden brew. The smell wasn't reay cherry at all... It was more on the funky side. I know that it's a Saison and it supposed to be like that but I guess the cherry I was looking for wasn't there. The taste was just not pleasing to me. I was upset that I opened this bottle just for myself and not a few people to try with me. The flavors that I was getting was a very tart cherry and lots of earthy herbal flavors. The mouthfeel was on the lighter side. I have to say that I will not be missing this beer since it's been retired.

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

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a yellow/amber color with hints of red in the color. Very little head and no lacing.

S: Citrus and cherry notes burst into the nose followed by some faint sage.

T: A slight sweet citrus flavor hits the tongue at the beginning of the sip. Tartness of cherry quickly overpowers the flavor. Some sage and herbal earthiness are present in the finish.

M: This is a thin beer with some prickly carbonation on the tongue.

Overall, this is a decent beer for the style. The flavor is fairly complex, but the tartness of the cherry is overpowering. Although the description on the bottle indicates that it is aged in oak, no oak flavor was really detected.

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Photo of Chaney
2.86/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Even though I can readily get ST products in my immediate area, I found this retired beer at a Total Wine in Virginia Beach on a weekend retreat with the wife.

A: Poured a mildly cloudy color, with about a 1/2 finger, solid white head that stayed a mere ring around the brew throughout the session. The beer itself was a brown oak color.

S: Oaky cherry for sure, but unfortunately, there was also a bit of melted plastic in the mix. A tinge of tartness rose to the forefront in this weird mess.

T: First of all, the aftertaste was WAY off! Very chalky and boozy on the finish... with a very subtle cherry overtone.... but would have actually liked more.

M: I wish it had more candy quality to cut through the bitter and odd farmhouse funk. The carbonation was very low and this brew could have benefited more from more bubbles to separate some of those macabre flavors.

O: Definitely not my favorite ST beer. I could attribute this to the fact that this beer has been retired for a while. However, the bottle I bought wasn't THAT old and besides... I remember trying this one when it was just released and didn't really care much for it then either. Nevertheless, I'm glad I got to try this one last time...

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Photo of vfgccp
3.36/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Light honey with amber highlights. Low head with poor retention. Ok lace.

S - Tart. Lightly earthy. Hay. Woody. Not much cherry at all in the nose.

T - Extremely wine-like. Tart cherries, booze, lemon/lime, prune, oak.

M - Light, nicely carbonated, body with a dry oaky finish.

D - It's dry enough that it leaves you thirsty.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.65/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A different take on a Saison style: where the dry Belgian character is apparent, the spicy hop notes are foregone for cherry flavor and wood-like spice.

The beer pours an accute and effervescent pour of light golden shades. Verbose carbonation fuels a spritzy and froathy head. Good retention and nice sticky lace on the glass further emphasize the classic characteristics of Saisons.

Aroma of light breads or crackers are layered with obvious cherry scents. Other rich notes of mild caramel and oak/wood give further intrigue that's not expected from the base style. Low on hop notes, the spicy/floral character doesn't show.

Flavors of rich bready/grainy malts give a crisp and refreshing taste while the tart cherry and wood-like tanin character accentuate dryness. The aftertaste brings out mild notes of almonds and almost vanilla-like roundness.

Creamy and airy early on because of the expounding carbonation, the beer has a fuller early palate than it actually is. As carbonation subsides, the beer makes a quick transition toward dryness, evaporation, and oaky-spicy tingle. -All leaving a memory of cherry, oak, and almond in finish and aftertaste.

A very nice Saison, where I'd like to see more authentic Belgian-like yeast contributions and earthy/spicy/floral hop presence. Then, the cherry additions can play more subtly in the background for added layers of complexity without commanding the stage.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A-A cloudy orange with have a finger head that lingers

S-Cherry, more Cherry and by the way you smell Cherry.

T-A very sweet cherry flavor. The wood notes come in, but do not mesh perfectly with the cherry flavors.

M-Light and dry

D-The sweetness is a constant fight with the dryness in a battle over drink ability.

Edit-I got my hands on another bottle, which I know was taken better care of and this one tasted a lot better (changed the ratings)

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Photo of woosterbill
2.65/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

22oz bottle, an extra from Lazerlobe, into a Duvel tulip. Thanks, Warren!

A: A fairly hard pour yields a scant half inch of coarse off-white foam atop a hazy light amber body. A bit dull, but not horrible.

S: Saison, really? This is closer akin to a big Tripel, with huge amounts of bready malt and alcohol dominating. Cherry is present as well, but it reminds me more of the red dip at Dairy Queen than a good cherry beer. As much as I love a cherry Dilly Bar, this one isn't really doing it for me.

T: Cherries (again, DQ) are always in play, although they recede into the background as the flavors develop. Alongside the sweet + sour fruit notes are flavors of banana, bread, oak, spice, and booze. The ethanol on the aftertaste gets rather oppressive. This tastes nothing like a Saison, and really nothing like any beer I've had. Unfortunately, uniqueness is not a good thing in this case.

M: Surprisingly light body, with carbonation to match. Interesting. I wish it were livelier, but it isn't bad at all.

D: Nope. I'm going to be struggling to get through the bomber, that's for sure. I've had hotter 10% beers, but this is up there.

Notes: A cherry saison aged with French oak sounds awesome, but Southern Tier really shot themselves in the foot by insisting on making this beer "imperial." The added alcohol brings with it flavors and aromas that just kill the potential for delicacy and complexity - whatever character the yeast could have brought out just gets subsumed in a wave of booze. Bigger isn't always better.


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Photo of ToAzwethinkweizm
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 3 December 2010.

650ml. Retired beer from the Blackwater Series, but still on some shelves in Rochester. I'm definitely buying more if I see it. Ingredients list:

"Alc. 8.0% by Vol.
19º plato
4.5º L
2-row pale malt
malted white wheat
belgian candied sugar
kettle hops: magnum
aroma hops: sterling

stored in a cool place
serve chilled in a fluted glass
best at 40ºF"

And so I left this outside until about 45ºF, poured into Sierra Nevada XXX snifter, gives a 2-finger head dissipating to barely a film, redeems its appearance with sticky drape-lacing, color is clear, pure, gold. This beer has a wonderful, bursting natural cherry aroma like that of Russian River Supplication (my girlfriend's favorite beer), except with Belgian-style yeasts and not wild ones. The oak is subtle on the nose and tongue, and the aroma seems slightly sour....but still a solid saison. Actually...the more I smell it, the more it reminds me of Supplication, in regards to being a sour. Saison? Half saison, half sour. There is also an intense flavor of apple juice on the nose and tongue that I forgot to mention. It is sour like apple juice on the palate from taste to taste.

This beer is extremely enjoyable. What the hell was Southern Tier thinking when they decided to retired this? I better buy more of this while it's on the shelves, or my girlfriend will kill me. Especially after reading this review.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a yellow color with a white head. The aroma is a mix of Belgian yeast, lighter malts, cherries and a lot of oaked notes.

There are a lot of oaked notes in the flavor as well. I get cherries, yeast and caramel malt as well as the dry, oak. The beer is very dry.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Pretty good, but not one of the better beers I have had from Southern Tier.

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3.85/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

After passing this one by over and over during the warm months when it probably would have been more in season, I finally caved and picked up a bomber from Total Wine. Poured into a narrow Michelob tulip.

A - Deep orange-golden in color. A small but pretty fluffy white head.

S - You can smell the cherry halfway across the room. Up close, the cherry is still near overpowering, but it definitely smells like what I can only describe as "saison-y." Yeast and an almost minty spice note play second fiddle to the cherry, and there's a little bit of a buttery character as well.

T - A very nice blend of strong cherry, vanilla & spice. The finish is buttery, peppery, and almost completely devoid of hops or alcohol.

M - Not too effervescent and not too thick, the feel was fairly unremarkable.

D - It starts out like most heavily fruit-flavored beers, highly quaffable. The typical saison funk does start to present itself about halfway through, and without enough hops to clean up the finish, it may become a bit off-putting.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.21/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours a reddish copper in the tulip. A nice tight white head with good lacing and retention. On the nose it's cherries and sweet bread, pretty overpowering. The taste is lots and lots of sweetness, natural cherries, and a bit of alcohol. At the end of it there is a pleasing sour note. The feel is thin but really satisfying and it enhances the drinkability, though the overall sweetness makes this not quite sessionable for me.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.04/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap in a snifter. Golden amber body with 1 finger of thick cream-colored head. Good retention with a fair dose of alternately drippy and sticky lacing.

Lots of cherry and oak in the nose, to the point of obscuring everything else except some clove spiciness and a touch of booze. Pleasant enough, although not exactly to style.

Tastes a bit more like a proper saison, or at least like a proper saison is hiding in there somewhere. Cloves, banana, orange zest and tangy yeast, but a tidal wave of cherry threatens to drown out everything else and lingers far after the swallow. Buttery oak in abundance, but the booze is pretty well hidden.

Overall impression: Not recommended as a true saison, although it is pretty tasty and enjoyable as just 'a beer'.

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Photo of brendan13
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into a tulip glass a hazy dark golden colour with very minimal head that falls away quickly.
S - Some cherry comes through in the aroma with subtle Belgian yeast spice character.
T - Cherry comes through in the taste with some very subtle oak character. Yeast phenolics are also present.
M - Light body with moderate carbonation.
D - A decent beer worth trying but I wouldn't buy it again.

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Photo of asabreed
3.49/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a Samuel Smith 12 oz. nonic. I was wondering why this was only $4.99 at Sam's in Binghamton, and I suppose that may be due to them wanting to get rid of it, since it is indeed retired. I was always curious about this, so I'm glad I got to snag a bottle before they're gone forever.

Appearance: A golden color with little carbonation, head, or retention. Very disappointing.

Smell: Oak and vanilla sweetness, yeast, some sourness, citrus bitterness, earthiness, and sour cherries.

Taste: The Saison-like presence is here, with its earthiness and mildly medicinal phenolic funk. However, I'm not sure the presence of the oak and cherries, adding both a sweetness and a sourness, work well here with it, as it seems like they're all kind of at odds with each other in some way. The back-end bitterness seems overly earthy and bitter, and kind of takes over the flavors, leaving the oak and cherries more in the background, unfortunately.

Mouthfeel: Fairly lighter to medium-bodied, with a moderate creaminess. The best thing about the brew.

Drinkability: I don't want to say it, but I will: I understand why they retired this. That said, how the hell could they retire Ubersun, which I think is awesome. I'm glad I tried this, as it's my first oaked cherry version of a Saison, and maybe with some tweaks it could work into something better, but I think too many disparate things are going on here, which is why the brew doesn't come together, and maybe those disparate parts should be kept separate from each other.

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Photo of baldmasterflex
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Overloaded my palate last nite with Double IPAs and Imperial Stouts last nite. Was looking for something lighter and fruitier to finish off this sweltering weekend. Picked this up at Capone's, $8.50 for a 24 oz capped bottle.

Poured into a wine glass and developed a huge frothy white head. The color is interesting, yellow like many other saisons, but with wisps of burnt orange and red when held to the light. Definitly not as carbonated as i expected, which is an aspect that i enjoy from saisons.

Smell is citrus-y sharp with a dull cherry aroma, honestly reminiscent of the black cherry yogurt I stoop over for breakfast every morning.

The taste is good, not too sweet or overpowering with cherries. They actually add a bitter-sweetness in the back of the mouth as it goes down. What i dont like is the def warmth of the alcohol. I know its listed here as 10.1% but this bottle reads 8%. I guess that could be attributed to how delicate this style usually is.

A good beer, worth a try. Wont buy again in the bottle, but maybe on draft if i see it.

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Photo of aasher
2.93/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: poured an orange copper color, slight white foam that laced the glass, pretty translucent, not as cloudy as I thought it'd be

Smell: a little yeasty, tart bitterness of cherries is subtly present, decent but nothing special, alcohol slightly present on the backend

Taste: not what I thought it would be, it didn't really resemble a Saison or the cherry ale I thought it would be. It's kind of like cherry cough syrup mixed with a light Saison. Kind of disappointing.

Mouthfeel: pretty light and well carbonated, a lot tingling on the tongue. finishes a little dry, alcohol lingers in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: not overly drinkable, it lacks complexity and good flavor, kind of masquerades to be something that it isn't. I was disappointed with this one.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a glass. Did not have the recommended glassware,so made do.

Poured a red tinged gold with a little white foam. Laces.

Light malt smell, hint of cherries - the fruit is in there, but buried.

Hearty oaky taste wrapped around a subtle malt. Tartness underneath. Cherries almost taking a back seat. Some barrel toastiness especially at the finish - as the beer warms, this taste begins to take over.

Nice blend, certainly interesting, but can be a little rough at the end. The last 4-6 ounces, while not a struggle, were less drinkable than the opener.

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Photo of branimal9
3.18/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Found some old notes - tried this one back in July of 2009 - On tap at Barley's Greenville.

Hazy orange-red in appearance. Aroma is a bit tart & astringent. Smells boozy. Upon first taste, very medicinal & sour. Even hotter than it smelled. Taste improved as it warmed, but flavor swung a bit too far to the unpleasant side. Drinkability was low, and I probably wouldn't go out of my way to try this again, though it might get better with some age to mellow out the burn of the alcohol.

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Imperial Cherry Saison from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 329 ratings