Compass | Southern Tier Brewing Company

very good
133 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Knapp85 on 05-27-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 133 | Ratings: 668
Photo of magictacosinus
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks again, Todd. Poured out of a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass and consumed over the course of two days mainly in response to ST's hilarious high gravity brewing program. I can actually picture them drinking session beers while they brew these high ABV offerings, nevertheless.

Pours a golden pale color that looks like every single Belgian strong pale ale I've ever seen. However, this still merits further attention even here, as it contains a frothy, foamy head that lasts a long time in the glass, never fully receding, and leaving a good deal of lacing as it lowers in size. Definitely viscous - nearly wine-like, actually, if it weren't for the color. The second pouring was a little cloudier, which I'm always a fan of. No way is this an APA even here, but how does it carry out in the aroma?

The first whiff most definitely takes me the realm of Belgian style beers far over any pale ales I've ever had. Notes of pineapple, pears, and green apple are most predominant, with a lot floral notes from the rose hips coming through. I love floral aromas in just about anything, and the dried rose peels and violets are definitely adding on to the aroma, to the point where this resembles far more a subdued Grüner Veltliner than an actual beer. Then, as soon as some of the white pepper comes in, I'm this close to claiming that they DID fortify it with that grape varietal. Citrusy, herbal, with notes of toffee and candi sugar mildly coming in. Definitely an experimental beer even here, but definitely not bad by any means.

The flavor is pretty much the same, except for the fact that the floral notes are even more pronounced at this point. Other than the notes of pears, grapefruit, and pineapple, there's a more piney edge to the bittered flavor, with slight notes of sage, which then allows the rose, lavender, and violet notes to fully open up and fill the palate with a perfumed, slightly phenolic flavor. I'm actually enjoying it, but I'm going easy with it as well. The second pouring the next day was slightly less floral, and actually was a little more enjoyable as a result. Slightly peppery and a bit funky, with a sweet, sugar cane edge at the finish. I have no idea why this is labeled as an APA. Maybe because it uses all American ingredients? Doesn't matter - this seems way more in vein with experimental farmhouse ales that you can find up north from here, or better yet, across France. Very well carbonated, with a thickness that holds up well thanks to the bottle conditioning. Big stuff, but pretty good.

I'm surprised with how much I enjoyed this over the two days I consumed it, but it comes as no surprise given the floral aspects that make this unique. I hope to see more interesting brewing work with flowers in the future, but I'm sure the bad examples would overwhelming. This takes a cross between Belgian and American styles and even wine, but I enjoy it for what it is. Not a practical offering to drink alone, but still one I'd gladly have again.

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Photo of Rope
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Hazy golden straw, with a thick foamy white head. Many Small little bubbles playing.

Bright and hoppy, akin to a pale ale of considerable flavor. Definitely a lemon tone pervading.

Golden ale + Bitter. The rose hips add a quinine bite that the malt melts away.

Much thicker and oily than I would have thought. I like the small bubbles.

My last review of the Game of Thrones stout left me thinking it was not as thick as it should be, and this one was thicker than I ever would have needed. Not bad good though, good to try for the novelty.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a hazy straw yellow with three fingers of rocky white head.

Citrusy aroma of orange and grapefruit along with floral notes and a light maltiness.

Much like the aroma, the taste is quite citrusy with orange and grapefruit. Floral notes, candy sugar and light biscuity malts follow. the 9% abv is well hidden.

Medium bodied with a sharp carbonation.

A very tasty and easy-drinking brew from Southern Tier. Recommended.

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Photo of adamette
3.57/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Live review. Poured from the 22 oz. bomber that my brother Pete brought directly back from the brewery earlier this week. Thanks Pete! "DOB 05/06/13" stamped near the base of the bottle. Poured into a clean, clear pint glass.

A Generous but brief meringue like head that lasted about 30 seconds over a Budweiser looking pale yellow translucent body with lots of carbonation rising up from the depths. The look, while true to the style, is pretty basic. 3.0

S Nice citrus hops smell that you certainly do not get from the aforementioned Budweiser. Repeated sniffs reveal a rather distant sweetness about it too. The hops are in front for sure. 3.5

T Citrus hops follow right from the smell into the taste and more prevalent in the taste is that nice sweetness that I picked up in the smell. NIce, tasty Pale Ale with a "hop forward" disposition. 3.5

M Appropriately on the thin side but those hops and nice sweetness turn up the mouthfeel dial above your average APA, say a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I rather like the feel of this APA. 4.0

D/O Drinkability suffers since it is 9.0% (!) ABV. Overall this is a good...nah...very good APA but probably not my favorite.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a - poured a three-fingers thick bubbly, white head into a tulip glass that left good lacing and sheeting throughout. the body was a hazy orange-golden color.
s - orange zest is the predominant aroma.
t - spicy hops with a hint of citrus and floral hops.
m - dry and bubbly.
o - really tasty beer and i thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An interesting and quite pleasant beer. Rose hips can certainly be overdone, in which case they taste like Grannie's soap. In this case they provide some nice aroma and a top note which are both nice, with the citrus of the hops being most prominent in the flavor. The pour is a little scary, with abundant white floaties suspended in the golden brew with a nice white head. Not a big deal, just protein, but still....On the other hand, the rose and citrus meld beautifully, the nose is enticing, and there is a long citric bitterness that nicely rounds things out. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of Portertime
3.39/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It pours a rich gold color with a bright white, foamy head. The label describes it as a sparkling ale but I do not see any additional carbonation or Champagne like qualities.

Smell: bright grapefruit hop notes, some pine, floral, and earthy.

Taste: I am able to distinguish the hop-like bitterness of the rose hips, which complements the grapefruit in the hops. The malt balances out nicely.

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Photo of farrago
3.49/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a couple fingers of bleached white foam, very whipped up and airy, no density at all albeit retention level is good, even dissolve. Any lacing slides off the glass as if greased. The liquid is the color of goldenrod, while faint and transparent it has a certain luminescence to it too, there’s a faintly visible particulate floating about, the bubbles are active but widely dispersed, no beads. Salt, grains and grasses frame the core of lemon to lesser white grapefruit citrus in the nose, built for focused penetration, a slice more than a punch, its herbaceousness makes it a bit tough to get at the apricot, apple fruit scents and naked dough notes. It’s close to full-bodied, the carbonation somehow manages to be thick and clingy, helps it press into all your mouth pores. Lots of lemon and then some orange and lime mixed in, all of it sour and bracing. The greenness and pepper and salt stuff too keeps you puckering. More like pretzel dough or rye here than sweeter breads. Something like the bowl of seeds and spices by the door of an Indian restaurant, the kind you are supposed to slowly chew on. Lots of dry extract as it finishes. Peach, apricot, green apple, pear, all with more crackle and snap than juicy wetness. Not the easiest to drink.

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Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a medium golden with a half finger white head atop.Aromas of nutty pilsner malt,drunken fruit and herbal/grassy hops.Flavors are deeply influenced by the doughy pilsner malt and the dryer sparkling feel,some sweetness from alcohol dipped fruit and dough with a leafy/grass finish.I like the sparkling feel and I like the hoppy finish of this innovative beer,well done.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy golden orange with a two-finger foamy white head. The head dosen't hang around long leaving a nice soapy lacing.

S - The aroma is orange peel, lemon, and floral hops.

T - The flavor is citrus (orange and tangerine), sweet malts, and some graininess upfront. The backend has some floral notes from the rose hips and a good bitterness from the hops.

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

O - A nice take on a Pale Ale. The flavors compliment each other nicely. I will Definetly revisit this one again.

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Photo of Barticus
4.75/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say but WOW! Very refreshing beer and very drinkable with 9% ABV. How is that possible? I don't know, but thank you Southern Tier! The rose hips dominate the finish. Take the first sip, enjoy the hoppiness, let it sit on your palate, and the floral rose hips will show up... and linger... for a long time.

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Photo of TwelveOunces
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber poured into a tulip
Bottled 5-14-13 (3 months old)

A- pours a surringly pale golden orange color. A bit of haze and some yeast floaties. A fluffy white head.

S- A sharp citrus. A crisp pine, some pilsner type malt. A very clean smelling beer.

T- A very citrusy beer. There is a lot of peach, orange and a ton of lemon. This beer is also quite floral. A fresh taste for being a few months old. The malt is plain but rather like a pilsner. A super crisp floral and fruity taste. Somewhere in between an imperial pilsner and an IIPA.

M- Bitter but not quite a double IPA. Very drinkable and refreshing considering the ABV.

O- A very nice brew. I will be picking up another next year.

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Photo of jwk0408
2/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I love southern tier. I've loved every beer I've tried, until this one. It had a dish soap taste to me. I couldn't even finish it. Although I tried,I just couldn't get past that. I think I even cried when I poured it out. It was the third beer I have poured out. I just couldn't do it. To me, it doesn't reflect on southern tier. I still believe they are one of the best around. I will continue to buy anything they release. I hope to get to the brewery soon. For now, I have a pumpking on ice! Got to go.

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Photo of Digimaika2
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(4.0) A: Hazy golden colour with a lot of sediment and a sizeable creamy head. Long lasting retention and dense lacing.

(4.0) S: Tart citrus fruits (mostly lemon), floral qualities, grains, sea salt, and a buttered bread backbone. Lots of citrus zest and a bit of musky/mothball-like aroma throughout (but not in a bad way).

(4.0) T: Orange juice, grapefruit zest, floral qualities, bread-like malt, and spices. This is real interesting with a definite refreshing quality from the carbonation and citrus fruits. Detecting some tropical fruits as this warms up. The alcohol is very well hidden. Lots of hop bitterness, healthy amount of dryness, and a malty sweetness that rounds this out nicely.

(4.0) M: Full bodied with a higher carbonation. Creamy and rich.

(4.0) D: Glad to have picked this up. Unique ale that crosses a number of styles but in the end it is well crafted and delicious.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into a tulip. From yesterday's notes.

A: Pours a hazy golden color with tons of sediment. The one finger white shaded head retains very nicely and leaves behind some lacing on the glass. The hazy look isn't the most aesthetically impressive, but usually yields an enjoyable brew elsewhere.

S: Aromatically, it's mostly citrusy hops combined with an herbal component. Yeast seems to come through with a phenolic note, unfortunately. Otherwise, the nose is decent enough.

T: First thing that hits the tongue is some citrusy hops. This builds up to a yeasty, bready finish with an herbal aftertaste. Some aspects work, some aspects don't.

M: The body has a light feel (not to be confused with an insubstantial one), but isn't quite as crisp as some other unfiltered ales. Astringency is fairly heavy and distracting - probably my least favorite feature. Still, for a 9% pale, it's both drinkable and devoid of booziness.

O: A textbook average brew that's only a couple of tweaks away from being really good. I enjoyed it for what it was, but wouldn't buy it again.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 3 Monts tulip. Pours a pale golden amber with a big three finger white head with good retention and lots of lacing; lots of active carbonation. Pale but looks good. Aroma of nice floral citrus, complex with grapefruit, orange; some light tropical notes and citrus hops. Flavor follows aroma with nice complex and floral citrus; tangerine, lemon and grapefruit with a some sharp citrus rind hops. The flavor drops off a bit and seems a bit attenuated for a big beer, but finishes strong with a long citrus hops aftertaste. Light to medium bodied, but nice mouthfeel from the active carbonation. A really interesting and novel lemony pale ale. Somewhat dangerous because the base flavors are not that intense and it drinks like a pale ale of half its ABV. The light rose lemon is still on the back of my tongue as I write this. Another off-beat but very well done ale from Southern Tier. Great brewery. Glad I only have one bomber of this, because I could easily drink many glasses of this and end up very sorry the next day.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: clear straw yellow. Fat, creamy white head.
Smell: grapefruit and malt with a strong floral character (guess that's the rose hips).
Taste: less malt than in the nose. Clean, hoppy, mostly dry. Finish is slightly bitter with strong floral characteristic (again guess that's the rose hips).
Mouthfeel: sparkling as advertised. Lots of carbonation.
Overall: nice brew. Glad I tried.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Listed as a pale ale, this makes me think very much along the line of an American version of a Belgian strong pale ale. This manages to be both light and strong at the same time. Easy to drink, yet at 9% one should probably be careful.
I would actively seek this out again. It's lively, refreshing, and just bitter enough to keep interest.

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Photo of ONUMello
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a tulip
A: Hazy dark yellow with a generous 2+ finger head, lots of carbonation & yeast particles floating about
S: Tons of citrus particularly grapefruit, floral & light malt notes
T: More mild than the nose would suggest but very intricate with pretty florals, light citrus & slightly sweet malt
M: Surprisingly light-bodied given the well-hidden 9% abv, nice carbonation
O: This bottle went down far too easy given its strength... I definitely like it

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Photo of Slatetank
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

bomber shared with tenderbranson69, enjoyed chilled from a goblet.

The color is very hazy golden with some floaties from bottle conditioning, thick white frothy cream rests with thick webbing of lace. The smell is very citrus-y grapefruit and mandarin orange with a light yeast scent with some tropical fruit odors and mild floral aroma with a mild green tea element. The feel is yeasty iwth a slightly dry and yet spritzy carbonated and mildly astringent essence. There is mild bitterness and gentle alcohol with a light nutty malt texture in the finish.

The taste has a pretty fresh floral earthiness and dry nutty yeasty flavor but the citrus element from the hops is complimentary with mellow earthy tea-like flavor. The taste is a lot more yeast than hops which is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a slight warming of alcohol which doesn't really improve the overall drinkability. I think this is a good beer but the rose hips combined with the bottle conditioning yeast makes a dry astringent taste linger and hampers the probability of repeated samples.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a perfect pint.

4.0 A: Clear medium yellow color. A bit of yeasties floating around. Two fingers of frothy white head. Retention is very good and plenty of lacing is left.

4.0 S: Citrusy hops - orange, grapefruit, and lemon. Moderate herbalness that I assume is the rose hips. Neutral maltiness and clean. Not super complex, but it smells great. Nothing to complain about.

3.75 T: Pleasant neutral maltiness sticks out more so than in the nose. Orange, grapefruit, and lemon citrusiness. Moderate, well integrated herbalness. Again this is a winner.

4.0 M: Lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation with a pleasant creaminess.

4.25 D: Supremely and infinitely drinkable. No complaints. This is a winner.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled 22 oz. bomber into a shaker pint glass. No visible bottling date.

Look- Gold/pale amber with a sticky, sudsy head that falls fairly quickly. Cloudy, visible particulate.

Smell- Very Nice. Powerful lemon-white tea-fresh mint aroma that comes off as appealing rather than medicinal. Light sweetness and dry biscuit in the background.

Taste- Follows the nose, with a hint more dry spruce. Again- light honey, loads of citrus, and a hint of tealike bittering. Finishes clean, light bitterness and lingering orange blossom. Delicious.

Mouthfeel- Light feel, soft, minimal carbonation. Dry finish with a smoothness that's unexpected. 9% ABV is not apparent, drinks like a beer half as potent. A summer sipper that could definitely sneak up on you.

Overall- I'd definitely pick this up again, it's quite good and unique. Bravo to Southern Tier.

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Photo of xmorgan
5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Town Hall Tap in Minneapolis.

Nice Imperial PALE ale, could almost be called a golden ale, very refreshing and nice hop to alcohol balance. Light bodied and allows for distinction in pale ale verse IPA styles.

Pale almost golden color with very good lacing

Floral and citrus tones in the aroma

Crisp grapefruity refreshing taste lots of effervescence in the carbonization

Light body mouthfeel yet very refreshing

Overall does not hit like a 9% ale is expected to beware and refresh!

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served in a tulip (like the bottle states).

Appearance: pale slightly havy hold body with heavy bubbles, the white head rose pretty high...well over a finger's length. This beer foams a lot so be careful.

Smell: Light flower scent, feels hoppy but not potent.

Taste: Smooth and bitter, wet hop feel and on top of that sweet lemon touch to go with it. Floral but light, sweet complaints.

Mouth: Heavy carbonation, but not really that sticky. Little dry at the end but still good.

Overall: good beer that if you think about it, tastes like something between an american lager and an IPA. This brew tastes good, could use a little tweaking still worth buying. Salud!

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Photo of Brenden
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A clear and bright medium yellow, with a look as effervescent as the bottle claims the beer to be, Compass grows a soapy pillow of pure white head just under a finger in height. It's retained pretty well, dropping with some time to a foam that leaves spotting on the glass.
There's lots of citrus with a bit of a floral edge and some more tropical fruits as well. The smell is lightly sweet, and certainly more than the taste is, backed by the somewhat dry, crackery malts.
The rose hips are all over the tongue, imparting its own particular bitterness that's got a hard (not harsh) edge. There is a soft sweetness underneath along with that of the fruits. There's more bitterness both herbal and raw/woody (stem) all the way through.
Again, this beer is every bit as effervescent as the bottle claims in a body that exemplifies the balance of softness and strength with fantastic depth. It's crisp, and every bit as it should be, without giving up smoothness.
This is an exceptionally unique beer, to say the least, but very well crafted.

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Compass from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.9 out of 5 based on 668 ratings.
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