Powder Hound Winter Ale | Big Sky Brewing Company

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Powder Hound Winter AlePowder Hound Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.20%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Two words describe winter in our neck of the woods... cold, dark, and snowy. Just the way we like it! At 7.2% ABV, Powder Hound Winter Ale gives just the right amount of warmth, balanced by its rich taste and generous dose of Hallertau, Palisade, and Amarillo hops. After a cold day of getting it done or just relaxing, the avalanche of flavor will have you saying these four words - "I'll have another Powder Hound"!

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-13-2002

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Reviews: 257 | Ratings: 523
Photo of Mr_Bojangles
1.81/5  rDev -50%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Look: clear, sandy gold.1 finger head that dissipates. Minimal lacing. Smell: spice, some sourness with resiny hop aroma. Taste: frail malt body with dry hop character. A little bit of sour funk and odd spice I cannot place. Body: medium with thin effervescent mouthfeel. Finishes with earthy malt and hop bitterness. Overall: had this beer last year and remembered it was very good. This beer is either a bad batch or expired. Big sky needs to have dates on their beer! This was cheap tasting and none of the components worked well together.

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Photo of JohnIrving
2.43/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Poured a nice slightly-lighter-than amber color from the can in to a nonic pint glass. 1 finger of dense off white head. Earthy hop aroma. Taste matches the nose with a warm alcohol finish. Flavor is influenced by the yeast, it gives a slight warm doughy element. This is classified differently on different sites. Big Sky says it's a style they came up with. But really, it's just a high abv pale ale that uses very earthy hops. Not bad, not something I'll have again.

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Photo of Birmingham
2.5/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Aroma: Malts and dried fruits.

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

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

Mouth Feel: Thick body and cloying.

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

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Photo of harrymel
2.52/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottled Unk, vintage 2011

A: copper with two fingers of off-white billowed foam falls to a sheet of the same and leaves behind cobweb lace. Excellent clarity.
S: Earthy hops, tea and some metallic malts.
T: Malt. Sweet malt and some metallic off flavors. Quite sweet.
M: Medium bodied with low carb and a semi dry finish.
O: Meh, okay, sessionable. Would drink if already drunk. Really unobtrusive.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
2.56/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours an absolutely brilliantly clear, burnt amber color. It is topped by an initially three-finger thick head that leaves some light lacing and is a pale tan color. The aroma is sweet smelling; leaning towards malt, but with some definite fruitiness as well. There seems to be some low level spiciness here as well (of the sweet baking variety). I wonder if this has spices in it, though if it does it is quite subtle. Boozy aromatics of alcohol and berry extracts combine to give this a nose similar to, though not as concentrated as, a cheap berry liquor.

The beer is fairly sweet, yet still relatively thin. It finishes with a sweet boozy beeriness that is definitely a bit off putting. A berry like fruitiness is prominent, but this seems to be stripped of all of the malt character that would lend complexity to this beer. This tastes like it is highly filtered, it is just missing a depth of character that would make it drinkable. The strong boozy character, straight forward fruit and lack of depth combined, make this beer something I don't particularly want to drink.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of 98green
2.57/5  rDev -29%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap. What the? Shouldn't this thing be dark with Christmas spices and whatnot? Not in this one. Looks like an IPA to me. Orange and crystal clear. Smell is light barnyard and Belgian yeast. Taste is more of that, some hop bitterness. Feel is really light on carbonation and a warming alcohol burn. So I guess warmer maybe happened. Overall if this was called Belgian IPA I'm on board for an average review. As a warmer, I gotta pass for sure.

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Photo of Bitterbill
2.65/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Purchased as part of a sampler pack.

This beer pours from 12oz bottle a clear deep amber with a 1 finger head of foam that shrinks to some spotting and a ring around the glass.

The smell has notes of caramel malt and a bit of spice.

The taste has a good caramel malt flavour up front followed by a bit of spice and some citrus hops and an earthy backbone that kind of throws the flavours out of whack. A few more sips in and that earthy flavour now dominates the flavour; too bad because I think this had potential to be a good winter ale and pretty darned drinkable but as is, I won't look for it again. Pretty messy, imho.

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Photo of a2marzman83
2.68/5  rDev -26%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Clear dark orange with soapy light beige head.

Toasted beady malts are at the forefront of the nose with a hint of earthy hops. Not much spicy or fruitiness appreciated. Not much to get exited over either.

Sweet malt flavors work themselves into the profile but this beer like it smells with a heavy dose of toasted malt. A little boozy as it warms.

The mouthfeel is a little thin for the sweetness

I wanted to like Powder Hound more than I did. I love winter warmers and Big Sky brews quality beers but this one you can pass on for all but the coldest of nights.

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Photo of dbalsock
2.73/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

App: Pours medium amber, maybe a little darker than medium amber with a reddish, offwhite head. There's some watery lacing on the sides of the glass and the head diminishes quickly. Big bubbles of carbonation.

Smell: Sweet fruity hops and malts blend together on the nose. Smells pretty good, kinda reminds me of how american barleywines smell.

Taste: The malts are subdued and don't do their part in livening up the flavor. There's a caramel background, a little toffee, but not much really going on. The hops don't stand out much either, leaving this beer kinda boring, and pretty weak for a red ale.

Mouthfeel: I was expecting some more hop bitterness to counteract the sweetness in the aroma, but it's not very bitter. It tastes kinda flat and slick... a little oily as it covers the mouth. I could use some more hops and some carbonation.

Drinkability: Well, I have a 6 pack... but this is most probably going to be offered to guests... and not my guests but my roommates guests. Not very good, but not the worst.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
2.76/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Caramel blonde color with a small head.

Aroma of light hops, biscuit and caramel.

Drinks like a flavorless red ipa. Very muted flavors with stale hop and light dill and amber malts.

Light and poppy, lots of carbonation.

Overall, almost a drain pour. Just ugly tasting.

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Photo of blakelive784
2.78/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 fl oz bottle served in a snifter:

A - Pours a transparent copper/amber color with a billowing white head. The head's creamy and holds itself well. Generally appealing.

S - Caramel, toasted malt, and musty grapefruit hops. The hops are relatively strong and seem to be out of balance.

T - Strong malt opens, with sweet candy, caramel and cream. There's some fruit in there somewhere. The hops don't figure into the taste all too much, and I suspect they were all added for aroma.

M - Well carbonated, medium bodied, and smooth. Works for whats there.

D - The balance is way off in this beer. The aroma doesn't match the flavor, and the entire thing is off kilter. It's not bad, but something is way off with this one.

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Photo of BanjoGasmic
2.79/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Overall sweet aroma, with very light banana esters. Very light caramel sweetness, without toasted or roasted malt aromas. No DMS or Diacetyl detected, though I found a hint of phenolic spice, paper, and a light sourness. Sourness increased as the beer warmed, and alcohol became more noticebale.

Very brilliantly clear, deep red, with a thin off-white-to-tan head.

First sip is dominated by a quick-fading astringency, followed up by a malty sweetness that lacks a definite character. Somewhat rough and grainy. Oxidation comes through in the finish without any attractive port-like or sherry qualities. Detectable alcohol in the finish. I pick up traces of cinamon or clove, though this may be derived from phenolics rather than actual spice additions.

The mouthfeel is full, with a relatively high carbonation. Noticeable alcohol thins out what might otherwise be described as a medium, mouth-coating body. Astringency lingers.

Overall, it is somewhat complex and interesting, though I have to say it bombs when looked at as an American Amber Ale. There is an utter and complete lack of hop aroma and flavor, which definitely takes it down a notch... I gotta say, Big Sky: I'm a little disappointed...

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Photo of DogFood11
2.82/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Milky tan head that levels out. Ring lacing, rolling medium to mild carbonation, Amber color.

Bread, doughy almost. Looks like a thin body.

Taste carries a raw malt presence, backed by a light fruitiness. The taste eventually rounds itself out into a fairly interesting ending to the brew but for the most part its rather forgettable to me. I liked the raw mash type aroma, and it was easily put down without a second thought, hence the problem.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
2.86/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle. Pours out a dark, amber color with an off-white head. The aroma is a strange sour smell with some caramel and spice. Buttery toffee flavor with pineapple and some nuttiness. A soapy flavor nearly ruins this beer, although some pleasant maltiness still comes through. Finishes sweet with very little hop flavor. This beer is not malty enough, and there are too many off-flavors. Not a complete waste, but I wouldn't recommned it either.

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Photo of czechsaaz
2.87/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Very fruity aroma. Lots of sweet cherries and plums. There's some mlat backbone that seems a little like munich but it's so overwhelmed by the fruity aroma that it's kind of nondescript. Nop hop aroma that I can pick out.

Reddish and clear with a very small head. Almost no visible rising carbonation.

Flavor is very sweet, malty but also more fruit flavored. Very light hop bitterness. Some bready yeast, but the dominant character is like the aroma, fruity.

Body is medium and the carbonation is pretty low so it's kind of lifeless on the palate.

Kind of a strange offering. It seems very light and so not a hefty winter warmer. It's so fruity that it seems more like a warm weather thirst quencher than a winter beer. That said, it does go down easily but it's really not what I'm looking for in a winter beer.

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Photo of Eisen
2.89/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured light amber with white head that fades into thin lacing. Doesn't smell or taste like much. Alcohol dominates the flavor, and there is relatively not that much alcohol. I've drank this beer since high school and it has either gone down in quality or failed to keep up.

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Photo of braker649er
2.95/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was a pretty good beer. But after it poured out from the bottle with a decent head, it lost all head quickly. I also had trouble placing the Amarillo hops, which I generally love. Still, there were overall good flavors involved. I liked it enough to try another bottle to see if that holds carbonation more.

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Photo of tonistruth
2.95/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- amber in color with about a half finger of off white foam, decent retent on that, and quick fading lacing

S- fruity aromas (raisin mostly), toffee

T- bready, toasted malts, raisin, cookie, with lingering malt sweetness throughout, spicy hop notes and some pine

M- dry medium and somewhat coarse body

D- nice season, though neither fascinating or repulsive

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Photo of gordavidson
2.96/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- bright orange liquid with thousands of tiny floaters. The white head is thick and has numerous streams of carbonation keeping it alive. Leaves nice lacing as it works its way down the glass.

S- Sweet caramel, steamed asparagus, and maybe a hint of pineapple. Unique, but not very appealing.

T- Sweet caramel and some hoppiness. I don't really know what else to say. Simple.

M- A sticky sweet body with enough carbonation to keep things light.

D- A simple beer that drinks alright, but is quickly forgotten.

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Photo of cokes
2.98/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Clear russet with a large bubbled, tan dome.
Vacant nose with distant glimmers of smoked pineapples and butter.
Sweet up front, with caramel, then nuttier with almonds. Minor fruity influx of pears and apples and even fainter suggestions of something more tropical. Turns buttery and toasty, then rides out with meager tea-like hops.
It's less than medium bodied, and less than worthwhile as a winter seasonal...or any seasonal.

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Photo of Floydster
2.98/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle my friend purchased from BevMo in Redlands as part of six pack that was eight dollars, split a bottle with him last night

Poured into an old brandy glass with deep red amber color and a 1/2 vanilla head with above average retention, left some small amounts of lacing

Smell had some chocolate, caramel, different hoppy aromas, tobacco, leather, and hints of spicy aromas

Taste was full of sweet malt at the beginning, then faded into a finish with dry hoppiness, this one seemed more like a winter warmer than a red ale, some small amounts of cocoa and faint citrus were also in the taste, some tangerine and orange in particular, the bitter aftertaste kind of threw me off after the intial sweetness, would have like more of a balance between hops and malt in this one

Pretty weak body and taste did not last long, leaving a pretty weak mouthfeel, would have liked this one to be a little thicker, not much carbonation

Could drink a few bottles of this, but it is pretty heavy on the stomach even though it is only around six percent alcohol, the syrupy texture gets old after a while and eventually force me to put this one down

I would probably recommend trying this beer but I do not need to ever again, nobody should be in a big hurry to do so, it is average at best but if you are curious like I was about another Big Sky seasonal, then you should grab some when you see it

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Photo of JohnGalt1
2.99/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


12oz for about $1.30 at the Boise Coop, poured into my standard red wine glass.

Crystal clear dark amber .. red highlites when held up to the light.... good 3/4" head the drops to an off white collar with lacing that stick around to the end of the glass.

Smell is malt dominated with pit fruits.. sweet cherries and a little peach. No noticeable hops ... just toasted and bready malts ... something is missing.

Flavor is much more complex and appreciated. Malt accentuated with toasted and roasted grains .... stops well short of black grains. Fruitiness is still very prevalent .... enough bitterness to barely balance... needs more hops. Good body.. and dialed in carbonation.

Powder Hound is one of those Holiday brews I pick up every year (I have a soft spot in my heart for Montana breweries). I like all Big Sky brews, especially the special releases available at the brewery, but Powder Hound I've always though needs work .... just a little work and quite a bit more hops. I would get bored fast drinking more than 1-2 of these in a session.

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Photo of descartes
3.01/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 33 cl bottle.

Appearance: Clear amber beer with slight tan head.
Smell: Nectary sweet smell, with hints, smells thin.
Taste: Malty taste,with hint of burnt caramel. Off aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but becomes watery quickly.

Overall: I was disappoint by a thin body, an overly sweet smell and a one dimensional roasted taste.

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Photo of GossageBrewery
3.03/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this amber ale from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, poured a clear amber color, produced a nice off white head, decent retention and it left a good amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted of caramel and lemongrass. Medium in body, this ale had a foundation of malted grain, sweet caramel and some citric lemon hops. Somewhat bitter- Dry finish. Overall, not very flavorful- its decent for a session beer but for a "Winter Ale" i was expecting a bit more umph!

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Photo of DukeofAle
3.03/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Powder Hound is a dog. Too bad, I love Big Sky's IPA. Moose Drool and Scape Goat ain't bad, either - but this dog don't hunt. Maybe I don't know what a American Amber is supposed to be - but I don't think this is it. There is nothing that stands out about this beer - everythings OK but nothing is great! There's too many better beers to try.

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 523 ratings.
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