Imperial Cherry Saison | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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Imperial Cherry SaisonImperial Cherry Saison

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.10%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bighuge on 06-07-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 296 | Ratings: 330
Photo of Anthony1
3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer is a light gold color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

The aroma is of wheat, cherries, bananas, Belgian yeast, light malts and a touch of hops. The taste shows the typical effects of the oak-aging right away along with complimentary mild flavors of cherries, bananas and Belgian yeast. There's a mild hops presence, hearty but not too heavy malt character and a little bit on an alcohol sting. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly sweet. Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

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Photo of mmva321
3.42/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip.

My second saison of the week/ever. I'm trying to get a feel for this style since I've only had the terrific Sofie. But I'm not a huge fan of fruit flavored beers... or anything. Fruit should keep to being solid and in juices.

Well this looks good at least. There's a little fizzy head that's pretty unimpressive. Oh well. It does have this really nice looking pink/orange body that is unique and crisp looking. So, points for that.

It smells nice too. The cherry flavor comes through and give a really sweet smell to the usual saison smell of earthy yeast and the slight funk that I've discovered isn't inherently a bad thing. It just usually is a bad thing.

Well, I can't decide whether I like this or not. So it is a possibility that this is the greatest tasting beer I've ever had, but I can't really decide, so a 3 is good. The earthy yeast really shines through with a light but not so subtle cherry hint to it. It also really brings the funk straight out of the gate. Not offensive, but not very well refined.

It's a pretty consistent and appropraitely dense. I also like the fact that the oak barrel taste comes later which seems to coincide with a drying of the mouth. Not earth shattering but pretty good.

Well, I'm glad my friend gave me a glass (free beer kicks ass) instead of me spending money on it, because it's one of those beers that I'm glad I've tried but need to have again. So I'm still searching for a beer that successfully adds fruit flavor and getting a better feel of Saison. I'd say I'm in the positive.

Oh yeah.. the drink is fine.

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Photo of FernMaster
2.85/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a Tulip.

I purchased this beer a couple weeks ago while beer shopping with a friend of mine. I remember being like, wtf? an imperial cherry saison? By Southern Tier is crazy. I've been falling in love with Southern Tier like they're Lady Gaga, so I decided to give this beer a try.

As soon as I began to pour the beer the wind picked up, and made me hate Missouri winters even more, sneaking through the kitchen window. It was an ominous entrance for two fingers worth of head, that brought about no lacing. The color is like I poured a welch's juice, its got a thick amber color look. I really like the smell. There's the cherry's at the forefront, followed by the yeasts and earthy smell of the saison.
I picked the glass back after the head had resided and I had my feel of the smell and took a sip. I bet you I looked like a cartoon character getting hit by lightning. The bitter flavor hit me in the face like I looked at his girlfriend the wrong way in a club. The flavor was so overwhelmingly bitter that it caused a shock from my mouth down to my feet. Yuck! I forced myself to keep drinking and I eventually got used to this shock, but it still causes my face to contort. There's nothing wrong with the beer, this is just the way it's brewed. Because of this I have to rank down the drinkability, seeing as I can't really drink it! The mouthfeel is fine, it makes destroying my face an easy experience at least.

Now I'll say this for clarification purposes. I'm not a huge saison fan. I don't dislike them, if anything Goose Island's Sofie and Boulevards Tank 7 have probably pushed me in the camp of enjoying the style. I'm the same way with cherry's in beer. My favorite beer ever is Boulevards Bourbon Barrel Quad, which proudly features cherry's, but I've had other beers with cherry's that I found repulsive. Maybe it's a balance issue? If that's the case, it's not found in Southern Tier's Imperial Cherry Stout.

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Photo of CharlatanSin
2.34/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The girlfriend picked this up at New Beer, and we decided to share it while watching Star Trek IV on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Southern Tier is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries, so I'm looking forward to trying this one.

Poured from a bomber into the a pint glass (hey, I was at my girlfriend's house -- she's light on the glassware).

Appearance: Pours the color of apple juice. The pour produces a ridiculously fizzy 2 finger head that doesn't want to stick around to watch "The Voyage Home" with us.

Smell: It's strong and fruity, with a big hit of spicy Belgian yeast. Yummy.

Taste: The initial taste is of sour cherries, which is quickly overcome by a very dry spiciness. I gather that must be the oak that the beer was aged with, according to the bottle.

These tastes aren't bad, but they're overwhelmed by an unpleasant, acrid bitterness. It has the flavor of my dad's Campari, and is nearly as boozy. It's really unpleasant, and makes finishing the drink a chore.

Mouthfeel: Flat and syruppy.

Drinkability/Overall: I could barely finish my pint, as the bitterness and syruppy mouthfeel overwhelm. I appreciate the effort to counterbalance the cherry flavor, but it goes way too far.

Southern Tier has some excellent beers, but this isn't one of them.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
2.4/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a bright orange-gold colour, like pumpkin skin. Head is initially firm and fine, but dissipates after a while to a collar of small white bubbles around the rim. Some reasonable lacing, and a small amount of streaming carbonation. Looks ok.

Rather timid nose. Some hints of cherry candy, dried orange rind, plastic and perhaps a very faint herbal funk to it. "Funk" is probably overstating it for a Saison - certainly doesn't have the wild musty aromas associated with the style. Not bad, but could be a lot better.

Initial hints of cherry are noticeable; no sweetness, perhaps the tang of fruit you'd get by eating cherry stems or pips. This is then pummeled by the rather phenolic bitterness, like chewed herbs, an unfortunate spicy character that doesn't do the cherry any favours. Ends up with a bitter cherry skin flavour, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Mouthfeel is crisp but thin.

No, this doesn't work for me at all. It's a mish-mash of conflicting flavours that aren't even that pleasant in isolation. Tastes phenolic, higher in alcohol (and more noticeable) than it actually is, and with neither the elements of a good saison, nor those of a good cherry beer.

Bridge Road's Saison de Coing does fruit-infused saison much better. This is rather unpalatable, verging on offensive.

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Photo of josefnewsong
3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up something that the girl and I could both enjoy and it worked out. Nose was cherries and spices. Taste was more cherries, more spices, a bit of a farmhouse characteristic, and alcohol. Definitely drinkable for 8%, good carbonation, and not too sickeningly sweet as cherries tend to be on my palette.

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Photo of david18
3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brewery produces so many different beers it's really amazing. I bought the Cherry Saison thinking i would like it less than I did but got it anyway out of curiosity. I liked it a lot. The cherry flavor is very subtle so the Saison quality can come through well. The additional alcohol, in this case, is a real plus because it balances the esthery character of the style.

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Photo of aquatonex
2/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours pale orange brownish with a very slight creamy head. Nose was immediately overwhelming, was hard to distinguish what was going on right out of the bottle. Once it breathes there is mostly alcohols in the nose with a hint of fruitiness. Taste is also impossibly overwhelming at first. Once it sits, there is major bitterness, hints of fruits, reminds me of Campari. Puts a big frown on my face with each sip. Not my kind of beer.

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Photo of BigDank
3.81/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours into a New Belgium balloon glass a nice hazy orange / amber color. The head is white and doesn't stick around for more than a few seconds. The smell is very fruity, the cherry standing out without question, with a hint of oak at the end. The taste is fairly sour but not enough to make you pucker. Just enough tartness to let you know it's there. Higher carbonation makes this one slightly bubble across the tongue. I would have to say drinkability is pretty high as this beer tastes very good and being fruity and not too high in alcohol, it wouldn't be hard to have a few. It is one worth checking out.

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Photo of canucklehead
2.83/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A Saison to me is all about the drinkability. I get this is an imperial Saison but too often I found myself wishing I had another beer to drink. The alcohol was very present and the sour cherries mixed with the oak notes made it tough going. I love ST's willingness to experiment and love most of their beers but this was IMHO a failed experiment.

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Photo of corby112
3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy golden orange color with a thick 1.5 finger frothy off-white head with good retention slowly fading into a lasting ring. Minimal lacing.

Very fruity cherry aroma with some slight earthy oak tartness. Slight crisp fruit and strong alcohol presence.

Earthy oak flavor with a decnt amount of vanilla and a lot of sweet cherry and cherry juice flavor. Hints of candy sugar and subtle bitter hops. Pretty carbonated up front with sour oak and cherry sweetness. Hoppy bitter dry and slightly sour finish.

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Photo of UDbeernut
2.1/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

a: clear golden yellow hut, foamy 1/2" head with fair retention

s: sweet aroma, fake cherry, yeast, slight spicing

t: uggghhh, very peppery (clove). hard to pick out any cherry. avoid

m&d: slight cough syrup mouth, very clingy. Avoid.

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Photo of StoutSlayer
2.54/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I drink this beer I feel like I'm Robitizing or something. Cough syrupy taste but with double vision. Artifical cherry taste kills it but I feel there's actually a good saison buried in there somewhere? I still feel like I got wasted on cough syrup though.

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Photo of tpd975
3.72/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One I have had for quite sometime. I had heard horrible things about it so it just sat and sat until tonight when its number was called.

A: Pours a nice clear golden hue. Nice 1/2 finger white head with little retention or lace.

S: Nice sweet aromas. Hints of artifical cherry, spice and Saison yeast. Very light wood not fresh oak though.

T: Rather light. Very wheat like malt. Hints of artifical cherry, Saison spice and yeast. The wood component is light in flavor as well, but it is very much white oak. There is a honey like sweetness in the finish.

M: Medium in body, light carbonation for the style.

D: Not too bad. I thought this beer was going to be an artifical cough syrup cherry mess. It was far from that. The beer is an okay saison that is actually complimented by the cherry and oak. If the cherry was real it would be really good. Something about the artifical cherry makes it just a tick off.

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Photo of becktone
4.37/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes 9-4-09

Eye: This one pours extremely clear and golden yellow. Carbonation looks low. Nice head formation but bad retention, could be this glass... Otherwise this looks very good.

Nose: Spiciness from a saison yeast strain are evident. The yeast comes through quite nicely. Cherry is blended in with the aroma, its not overpowering but is there in just enough amount to be noticed and add complexity. Some alcohol is there too. Maybe some banana and clove phenols. Very nice smelling beer.

Tongue: Very nice saison. Yeasty and spicy. Alcohol adds some complexity as well. Just hints at cherries as in the aroma. I was afraid when buying this that the cherry would be real upfront and would hide the saison part of the beer. Its combined perfectly. Cherry flavor is there and just backs the yeast profile on this beer. Very nicely done. Some oak tones come out as well. Not really all that grassy and farmhouse like, guess not all saisons have to be. Hints of sweetness and cherry character upfront when its going into the mouth...after that spiciness takes over. Definitely worth a try. Southern Tier does it again, they do not disappoint.

Feel and Drinkability: Finish is going toward dry, complimenting the higher alcohol and oakiness. Carbonation is spot on... spritzy and fine but not too overpowering. It adds instead of detracts from the beer. Aftertaste is long lasting, peppery spiciness comes through. This is one that I'll enjoy drinking, and will drink again. Definitely one of the better saisons out there. Don't hold a candle though to Fantome.

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Photo of maximum12
2.21/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to a kind but unnamed BA who sent this along as an extra in a trade. I sampled this before & didn't like it so let's hope for better this time, eh?

Pours a very clear yellow. Smells rather rancide. Tastes worse. Funk isn't quite right word, but the pairing with cherries wasn't a good idea. At all.

There's something not right about this beer. The cherry taste is artificial & cloying. The funk is stinkish. It's just not good.

Blech. Haven't had a drain pour in a while, down the garbage disposal this one goes.

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Photo of BWH3
3.72/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Southern Tier Cherry Saison at 45 F from a chalice.

A: Straw, slight gold. Small white head. Fizzles quickly. Some lacing.

S: Oak, cherry sweetness, fruit esters of the yeast, wheat sharpness. Sterling aroma hops used but do not contribute much to the bouquet.

T: similar to aroma but more sharp and tart than sweet. Not much funk or odd esters from yeast in the flavor. A reasonable American interpretation of this style. It does capture the balance toward sour and spicy rather than sweet flavors. The cherry adds a unique twist and tartness. I could go for more spice/herbal notes from floral or spice additions. Hops cleanse palate well. Well balanced overall and refreshing.

M: Medium bodied. Poor head retention for style.

D: Love the complexity and uniqueness. Not the best American Saison. I also generally prefer a Saison with interesting herbal or spice additions rather than added fruit or sugar substitutes. Certainly worth a drink.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Out of a 22 ounce bomber bottle and into my shaker glass. Appears a clear deep amber color with about a finger of off white foam. Nose and flavor are of very mild hints of cherry cough syrup, yeast, caramel, earthy, lightly toasted bread. Wow that label is deceiving with the pickup truck and its bed filled with a huge cherry and the shocks ready to burst. The amount of cherry in this beer would barely fill the bottom of the cup holder in that truck. Medium in both body and carbonation. Pass this by if you see it.

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Photo of BDTyre
2.91/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not my favourite Southern Tier brew. Cloudy amber with a thick, but quick to disappear head. Sickly sweet, almost syrupy cherry smell with a sugary malt background.

Cherry taste, with hints of cough syrup. Noticeable alcohol presence. Bitter, cough syrup aftertaste.

Decent carbonation, but the noticeable alcohol presence and the sweet taste make this probably a one off.

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Photo of nick76
3.2/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The appearance is golden with a slight orange tint to it. The head is average for the style. The aroma is chemical with burnt plastic and yeast. There is some malt and a bit of cherries. The taste is like the aroma. The palate is smooth but nothing special. Overall this beer is hardly better than an average beer.

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

Pours a clear, golden/maize color. 1/4 inch head of a white color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of cherries, yeast, tart malt, and sweet malt. Fits the style of a Saison/Farmhouse Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with a low carbonation level. There is also a strong tartness. Tastes of cherry, yeast, tart malt, and slight sweet malt. Overall, too strong on the cherry for my taste and lacking the overall saison character.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$7.99 for a 22oz bomber. 8.0% ABV, OG=19d plato, 4.5 Lovibond. Brewed with 2-row pale malt, malted white wheat, belgian candied sugar, and cherries. Magnum kettle hops, and Sterling aroma hops. Aged with French Oak Staves.

I live in Traverse City, Michigan, so god knows I've had nearly every permutation of cherry beer one could imagine. I saw this one, an Imperial Cherry Saison aged with French Oak, and it really piqued my interest, especially from those Southern Tier boys, who's other beer's I've found to be exceptional. This one pours out to a slightly chill-hazed burnt orange, forming a small white head with very little retention and nearly absent lacing. Carbonation is kinda mild, requiring a heavy handed pour to achieve a head. The nose is delicious with a gorgeous blend of sour cherries and a little tart French/Belgian funk. I wonder what yeast they fermented this with? The mouthfeel is tart, puckering but not sour, with a moderate astringency and a medium body. The oak is immediately noticeable in flavor. HUGE oak flavor and mouthfeel, more so than any chardonnay I've ever tried. Very dominating. The taste is barely offset by the sour cherries and wheat. The wheat adds a subtle cracker note, with the alcohol adding a peppery bite on the tongue. Bitterness is medium. A few fusels are detectable (a very common, but not pleasant, feature amongst French saisons), but in the balance of things are barely there. Again, the Oak is very dominate here and throws everything else under it's wagon wheels.

This is an interesting beer, no doubt about it, but it's not really all that good. It's a cool experiment, but I don't really feel the urge to drink it again. I would recommend it to try, especially if you love oak.

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Photo of ffejherb
3.08/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz. bomber into tulip on 9/6/09.

A - The bomber delivered a hazy reddish/orange body with half an inch of frothy, off-white head that quickly diminished into a patchy veil.

S - Initial aroma only hints at cherries, but is accompanied by an unfortunate medicinal character reminiscent of cough syrup. Sweet, syrupy and caramely with plenty of toffee notes, this doesn't strike me as a saison at all, but more like a cider. Some earthy, musty dankness also evolves out of the otherwise sweet nose.

T - Again, not much cherry at all. There is an odd licorice character that persists throughout; not a fake cherry Twizzler flavor, but more like old fashioned medicine box licorice. A hint of sourness creeps into the mix, then finishes with a tinge of earthy, herbal hop notes and a hint of peppery spice in the backend. Reminds me of hard cider spiked with cough syrup.

M - Medium bodied with a syrupy texture and pretty soft carbonation. Finish is dry with quite a bit of residual sweetness on the palate.

D - This was perhaps my first true disappointment with a Southern Tier Imperial series release. This one packs more of a medicinal flavor rather than the expected cherry character I was anticipating. I don't think I would get another one of these, although I might like to try it on tap for a second opinion.

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Photo of tigg924
3.97/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head that dissipates quick, high carbonation, clear, orange-yellow

Smell: sour cherry and funky yeast

Taste: sour cherry, some wheat, earth, apple

Mouthfeel: dry, smooth, tart, and crisp. I could really taste the carbonation

Drinkability: This is a good beer for the style and hits what a saison should be. It is very dry and has a slightly complex and interesting flavor. One is enough in a sitting, but I would look for this again.

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Photo of adamette
3.97/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber that I bought at the brewery this past weekend into my silver rimmed Hennepin glass. Employee at Southern Tier highly recommended this beer, indicating that the cherries used are "Michigan Cherries" and not maraschino sweet cherries. She believes that it is an accurate cherry flavor.

A A medium yellow translucent body with a brief off white 1 cm head despite a fairly vigorous pour. 3.0

S Like a basic Saison with a twinge of oak. I do not smell cherries. 3.5

T Wow...interesting. It tastes like a Hennepin (not just because of the glass!) with the Oak taste and then in the background some tart cherries. That employee was right...the cherries are not sweet but tart. They are further in the background than I would have expected by the red label featuring a truck with a huge cherry in it. I like the taste of this unique beer. 4.5

M Well there is the tart cherry and the kick of alcohol that I am afraid is not well hidden. As it warmed the feel got softer. 3.5

D Good. The not-well-hidden alcohol detracts from the drinkability. That being said, I finished the bomber without delay. 4.0

Notes: A much more mature tasting beer than the label might suggest, this is an interesting beer that any Saison fan should try. I would not recommend this as a "first Saison" however.

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Imperial Cherry Saison from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.52 out of 5 based on 330 ratings.
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