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: 527
Photo of chumba526
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The ale pours a light reddish color with a small head. The smell is kind of nutty/Smokey, it also smells a bit like orange peels; there is also a slight herbal fragrance to the ale. It tastes of rich roasted malts: the ones that add a slightly bitter Smokey quality to beer. The beer has a noticeable amount of hops; the hops mostly add to the bitterness but there is a slight citrus flavor to them as well. The malts and hops blend nicely with no element really overpowering the other; the carbonation which was low helped the flavors blend together. It is an excellent wintertime beer.

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Photo of Daktyls
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a crisp and clear amber color with a half finger head on the top that dissipates to a fine lacing on the top with patches of larger bubbles in the middle and clinging to the edge of the glass.

S: Maltiness and floral hops present themselves almost immediately with hints of pine and a little bit of burnt caramel as well. Not too much else that I can pick up.

T: Floral hops, light and crisp notes of pine with malt notes providing a balanced backing. Some caramel again manifests itself in the background with some breadiness present as well.

M: A crisp tasting beer with enough flavor to hide the higher alcohol content which almost leaves a layer in mouth after the swallow. Very enjoyable.

O: Again, a very enjoyable beer, not too aggressive, but presents itself enough to make its flavors know. While perhaps not a 'traditional' winter ale, still very enjoyable.

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Photo of tbeck
3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber, almost brown with a creamy one finger brown head. It has a slight clarity, darker than some other ales. Aroma is simple, malty sweetness and fruity. Very smooth taste, a lot of malt but well balanced sweetness. Hints of chocolate and coffee with a slight hoppy bitterness. Good body but not heavy with a slight chewy texture. A very enjoyable ale, highly recommended as a session beer and one to try.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$1.89 for a 12oz single @ Jacks. 7.2% ABV per the website. Hopped with Hallertau, Palisade, and Amarillo.

Pours out to a slightly hazy burnt orange, light amber, forming a tall whipped meringue like light yellow head with superior retention and solid thick sheeys of bubbly lace. Very nice looking beer. Moderately strong carbonation provides a nice stream of bubbles. Prickly mouthfeel with a medium dense body. The nose is a nice blend of up front grassy hops sitting on top of a nice malt body. I love the Amarillo skunk funk. Suggestion of toast and biscuits, red apples and pears. The taste is a recap of the aroma...spicy but not overwhelming hops tickle the tongue at first, then it's followed by a nice biscuity malt with vanilla and fruit, even a touch of tangerines. There is residual saccharin sweetness which offsets the medium herbal bitterness. Lots of fruit esters...tastes like Wyeast British Ale yeast. The finish reminds me of black tea with a hint of sugar.

A peculiar but good beer. It has a certain twang to it

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Photo of twistedweather
3.99/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this into a nice snifter I found at Pear, a store at the Pike Place Market here in Seattle. I relished at the carmel color, and dip in for a sniff. Like smelling flowers and true hoppiness. By this time I was drooling a took a large sip. A bitter smooth flow cascaded down my throat...

Ahmen Ahmen I shouted hahlellujah! This beer is excellent. It even has a nice scene with a husky and some snow on the label. Belltown is were I found it, jus a single but would definetly get a sixer! floral smooth not too spicy goes down great!

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Photo of bsp77
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear golden amber with billowing head and slight lacing.

Smell: Citrus, toast and an undeniable similarity to Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which I associate with cinnamon and honey, but I don't think that is in here, so not sure where that aroma is coming from.

Taste: Light malts of biscuit, toast and mead, with a nice layer of spicy English hops on top, which has a tinge of citrus and pine. Still getting some very light winter spices.

Feel: Medium body with moderate carbonation and a nice dry finish.

Overall: Nice ale overall that does not seem to fit any known style. Kind of an English Strong Ale, kind of an Amber Ale, kind of a Spiced Winter Warmer (despite the lack of spices). This seriously confuses the hell out of me, but if I put my beer reviewing hat away, it is clear that I really enjoy it.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spicy, malty nose. Pours brilliant copper tinted amber with a 1” finely bubbled, lacy white foam cap. The palate is creamy, fruity, with some bread, citrus and light melon. Light sweetness on entry that dries out by the finish with light traces of astringency. It has a medium body and carbonation. The carbonation is natural and not harsh. Easy to drink.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clear, ruby-orange copper body and yellowish tan head welcomes you to Big Sky's Powderhound. Its head retention is good, and it leaves rings of craggy and spotty lace about the glass. The nose is fruity with citrusy hops (and yeasty fruitiness?), and malty with a hint of chocolate-drizzled caramel. In the mouth it's delicately zesty with a median carbonation and medium-light body; becoming somewhat creamy as it warms in the mouth. The flavor is fuller than the nose suggests, and it's loaded with rich, chocolate-accented deep-caramel and toffee malt washed by citrusy hops and backed by a rock-solid bitterness and cusp of roastiness. It finishes dry with some lingering tangerine-like fruitiness and mild pine from the hops; some mildly sticky toffee and caramelish malt; and a restrained but lingering bitterness.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.
7.2% ABV, numbers on neck.

A - Clear golden amber in color, Big Sky Powder Hound has very little carbonation floating though it resulting in a somewhat poorly sustained sand-colored head. Thick lace covers the glass like frost on a cold morning's car window.

S - Powder Hound's aroma mimics the painted label with fresh pine and a crispness of the cold, the open outdoors. Herbal hops poke through like a distant whiff of tea with caramel drizzled hard roll maltiness following.

T - Shifting back and fourth, the flavor can't seem to make up it's mind on whether malt or hops should dominate, starting with a bready and beefy malt flavor. Caramel and warm dough are overtaken by a a flurry of hops ranging in flavors from pine and sticky sap to earthy herbal notes and candied, dried pineapple on the finish.

M - Though the flavor doesn't quite present itself as deliberate at first, the balance and feel sure does, plowing forwards with a smooth medium malty body and dry, decidedly bitter finish that lingers around for a few moments.

O - Powder Hound has a beautifully painted label that evokes strong outdoors-y feelings of winter in the northwoods for me but that's about where the "Winter" character of this beer stops. It seems to me more of a higher octane amber with a nice little hop push and solid malt body, suitable for tailgating during those cold winter games.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ruby tinted brown with lots of reddish hues easily visible on both the sides and bottom of the glassthree finger high head of sticky and foamy off white lace

aroma was full of hops creating a large sweet aroma. thick malted backbone that was full of deep earthen grains and roasted malts, and a nice caramel coating that seemed to tie it all together very nicely. resin pine with a sugary caramel sweetness balancing it very nicely. The backbone being the roasted malts consisting of a nice spattering of cereal grain and earthy grasses. All of this seamlessly blended together in a thick mix of almost chewy goodness.

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Photo of Phatz
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Slatetank for sharing this beer.

Drinking this next to Big Sky Brewing Company's Moose Drool, lead me to realize they share a common thread; the toasty toffee.

Appearance: Pours a dark copper brown with a tan head.

Smell: A nutty toffee and caramel aroma with a toasted malt bready nose, a hint of alcohol and smokiness. The hops are piney but reserved in this bottle.

Taste: Toffee, nuts, bready malts and caramel flavors lead with a light hoppy feel that takes a back seat (unlike most ambers), then a dry bread finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth creamy medium body beer with low carbonation lending a softer feel to this sessionable brew.

Drinkability: This is a tasty approachable brew that is easy enough to drink.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of Reidrover
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Comes in a 12 oz brown long neck with a picture of what looks like a sled dog on the label.
Very nice looking dark brown coloured beer, with a 1 inch creamy off white head..dissapates but leaves excellent lacing down the glass.
Very strong aroma of roasted malts and an almost wine like alcohol scent..detect some spiciness.
Nice strong chocolate malt taste, then mid tongue it gets spicy almost peppery shows some slight hops at the end..and a good alcohol warming in the throat.
Very nice on the tongue not dry at all.great long lasting aftertaste.
I was surprised how much I liked this ale even in the early summer..pretty drinkable in my books.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a pint glass, poured a solid orange amber with good head, a solid thicket of head for the whole time, ok lacing. The aroma is full of roasty malts, some not so active hops, citric like, maybe some chocolate. The taste is also pretty decent, kinda roasty malts, kinda caramel sweet, some chocolate, a little hop citrus and bittering. The mouth has decent body, carbonation, really a good beer but nothing too special. Just glad it wasn't called a winter warmer, cause it didn't. That said, a decent beer.

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a two finger head that displays good stickage and leaves shards of lace

Smell: Sweet malt and caramel aromas as well as a hint of piney hop

Taste: While there is a biscuity malt flavor, up front, that merges with caramel, the piney hop notes quickly arrive to balance out the sweeter flavors; after the swallow, the flavors are nicely balanced with some winter warmer elements but, overall, this is a very hoppy beer for the style; a tingle of mint on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A beer that combines a range of styles, this is a nicely balanced beer with enough flavor to keep one's attention

Thanks, sholle, for the opportunity

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Photo of BigRedN
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The beer is a dark amber with an off white head about 1 inch in height. head fades to a solid cover on the liquid and leaves some good lacing.

Smell: Some lightly roasted malt, a little caramel, a light chocolate scent and something else (a little roasted barley?). Hints of hops from just a touch of a floral aroma, but mostly malty.

Taste: A well balanced beer. Some decent maltiness followed by a bitterness that is welcome but not overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, adequately carbonated (not too bubbly and not flat either) with a somewhat dry finish.

Drinkability: Got two bottles as part of a mixed pack. Very enjoyable, although at just over 6% I don't know if I would be able to session with this. Still it is a good beer to sit back and enjoy one (or two) on a cold winter night.

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Photo of NatetheGreat
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful looking, deep ruby-brown with light tan head. Spicy aroma, with a nuttiness and notes of clove. Taste didn't live up to the nose, but did have a nice hoppy finish (guessing noble hops). Thick, rich mouthfeel and a good brew overall. Certainly on spot for the style.

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Photo of Bighuge
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the first year I tried this one. Beautiful mohagony color. Great malt taste. Very good. This beer tastes as if it was aged in oak. Nice warming winter brew.

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Photo of Foyle
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a 1" off white head that slowly recedes with some lacing. Amber color with plenty of streaming carbonation.
Aroma: rich aroma of yeast rolls, pungent earthy hops, some caramel and raisins.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied and a bit sticky with a pleasant finish.
Flavor: complex combination of bread dough, sweet caramel and toffee, fruity raisin, significant bitter earthy hops and with a slight astringent alcohol burn in the finish.
Overall: a pleasant sipper on a cold winter day and appropriate to the style.

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Photo of TheSarge
4.02/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours decent for a finger thick white head, and has a cleanly filtered copper colored body.

The aroma is piny and orangish along with a hint of toffee.

Taste wise it's well balanced between caramel from the hops and lemony/piny flavors of the hops.

Feels medium to full in body. Good carbonation as well as wetting to the palate. For a higher ABV brew, there is little to no alcohol burn, which is always a plus in my book.

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Photo of isualum12
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great looking beer. I have had it over the years from a bottle but never like tonight from a tap. I was excited to see it. Nice red copper tone to this beer. It smell is not overly strong. Taste is great. Lots of flavor without kicking you to hard. Feel is close to perfect.

Great beer that is worth having a few time throughout the year.

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Photo of Pegasus
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Lovely copper-colored body sports a large, dense off-white cloud top head, which retains superbly. Thin lacing coats the glass walls. The carbonation is slight, a few bubbles drift lazily to the surface.

Aroma: Lots of crisp pine tar hops vie with toasted and caramel malts. The hops win out easily.

Taste: Opens with lots of toasted malt, like toasted rustic dark bread. A moment behind the malt are rather prominent grapefruit hops, these soon dominate the taste. Beneath the hops, there appears a bitter cocoa note, which offers some balance. Finishes with a long, lingering slightly oily grapefruit rind flavor. The alcohol is handled quite gracefully, at 7.2% ABV, it was quite subtle.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, quite pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: : Well-done. For my own taste, I would like to have seen more emphasis on the malt, rather than the hops. Nonetheless, this is a quite well-crafted example.

Presentation: Packaged in a twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a standard Pilsener glass.

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Photo of Raime
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Big Sky Powder Hound.

Been finding a lot of singles 0 Big Sky lately. Had a long fourteen hour day at work and now some annoying siblings just left the house with their Bastard children. I don't remember inviting anybody over. Time for some beer.

Look - From the twelve ounce bottle hard poured into a pint glass. This brew pours a darker shade of copper with a finger and a half of ultra dense white head that sits amongst the top of the swill and eventually lays down to a thick cloud formation amongst the top of the glass. Carbonation appears to be on about moderate with this guy. Pretty solid appearance thus far, we'll see how the stick forms. Minimal stick amongst a finished glass.

Smell - Loaded with melon and lacking anything that could be misunderstood as earthy ( thankfully ). For being a winter warmer, I'm not really getting many of the characteristics that the style is know for but it does smell rather inviting. Maybe this is just how they do things out Central? Who knows.

Taste - Follows the nose quite a bit but finally adds some spice levels. Big melon like flavors explode all over your tongue which are met in the middle by some spices that are rather indiscriminate and tough to pin point. Not necessarily a 'traditional 'winter warmer but the category is pretty broad. Tasty actually, without being a bitterness or palate bomb.

Feel - The body is moderately full with a juicy wetness that Sita upon the tongue nicely. Spices come through a bit more here with a touch of fresh pear. Carbonation is on about moderate. Creamy level is high all around the mouth thanks to the well retained head and the brew swallows easily with a medium bitterness.

Overall -Not a traditional winter warmer but again, it is a pretty broad style and can have many different incarnations. I thought this was pretty good and would have no problem tossing back a sixer or two of these things. Probably my favorite brew so far outta Big Sky. Go into this beer with an open mind and I think you'll like it.

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Photo of JeffreyG
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is another great brew from Big Sky. The Powder Hound had a really inviting look with a dark, almost garnet like, color and a two finger head that had nice retention and lace. The taste is nicely balanced with a slight empahsis on the malt giving it a toasty flavor. Mouthfeel is full but not overpowering. A very drinkable brew.

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Photo of Chaz
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured cool (not from-the-fridge cold). Medium-firm pour into a Westmalle chalice produces a full one-fingered, pale tan head of medium duration and moderate lacing. Nose is fairly rich with esters of dark fruit, caramel, cocoa, and rather minimal hop. Smells creamy. Brilliant amber in color, fairly dark, and with a touch of crimson. Fruity and mildly-sweet on the first sip, with more dry biscuity malt notes than rich, roasty malt. VERY creamy. Lingering bitterness, with plenty of fresh piney, resiny hop aromatics, and a drying quality as well. Malt is fairly juicy on the second sip, and the alcohol is warming and nearer the front of the palate . . . tingly. Stronger than I recall it as being (and it drinks a bit stronger than 6.2%), but my overall impression is that this brew has changed a good deal since I first tried it five years ago . . . I really like the way they've balanced the juicy, aromatic, and bittering hops with the pale and roasty malt. Mildly roasty, cocoa notes tend to linger along with the both the hop bitterness and resiny quality, all to a rather pleasing affect. Light notes of cherry and caramel, cocoa and vanilla. Mouthfeel is light and creamy tingly as opposed to scrubbing/cleansing, and it is very *readily* drinkable, almost too much so. Carbonation is lower than I recall, with the brew being softer and more refined than I recall, definitely an improvement. Seeing as I haven't tried this in a good while and as it was on sale -$4 / six pack!- this made for a great buy for a cold day in February. Seeing as how their flagship brand (Moose Drool) has really come into its own in recenet years, it's no surprise that this brew would do likewise. Big Sky’s Powder Hound is worth enjoying again and again!

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Photo of katan
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz into a pint

A - Pours a dark, deep brown color. Appears clear, well filtered, Light head film retained - overall low head size. Off-white to mocha in color. Doesn't appear very carbonated.

S - Sweet caramel and crystal malts - a bit nutty. Some cinnamon and other winter spices are present.

T - Starts off with a warming malt backbone of 2row and some caramel notes. Very spiced, lots of cinnamon. Mid-stream shows some malt and bready notes. Very malt forward. Finishes with a yeasty bite.

M - Thick and strong beer body - carbonation is present but in balance. Leaves behind a cloying sweetness.

D - Deceivingly drinkable. Sweetness and spiciness is excellent on a winter night. A bit filling at times. Flavors are smooth. ABV will sneak up on you.

A very solid "winter warmer" if this were that style.

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 527 ratings.
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