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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: 256 | Ratings: 514
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 Halcyondays
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, glad to see a single of this finally,

A: Pours amber with a moderate white head, solid lace.

S: Crystal malt, overall sweet smell with a hint of hops.

T: Crystal malt with a lot of bitterness, very earthy, but nothing really wintery about it.

M: Medium-bodied, soft carbonation, fairly smooth.

D: Solid winter beer, definitely more in the Celebration realm for winter beers. Tasty, but nothing more.

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Photo of Zorro
4.07/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red colored ale with a good tan colored head.

Smell is sweet and malty with an aroma of figs and raisins with some vanilla and smoke. Good toasted bread aroma. Fair amount of spiciness in the scent to the point I suspect they added spice to create a sort of winter warmer. Scent is somewhat like a bock beer.

Taste is slightly sweet bitter and smoky in the first taste with a residual wood and vanilla finish. Strongly malty but it is very aggressively hopped to compensate and does a very good impersonation of a good Scottish ale. Smoky malt and strong herbal hops make this a very pleasing beer! The oak, vanilla and caramel continue as after tastes through out the glass full.

Mouthfeel is only average here; this has that one slight fault.

A very drinkable Scottish ale here. According to the website they call this "a Northern Rockies Strong Ale" but taste wise this is a malty and smoky Scottish ale in my book. A surprisingly drinkable beer that I really didn't expect to be as good as it was.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pleasant light copper amber hue with a very fine, indeed powdery, head of off-white. Some patchy lace is left. Body is quite fine and fluid, but with a nice slickness to it. Very fine carbonation. Indeed, "fine" is coming up a lot in describing the appearance; it is a fine looking beer.

Nose is muted, with a touch of crisp, generic American hop aroma that smells as though it's been left a little long. Some clean, lemony dish detergent aromas, with a touch of chlorine and turned earth. Nice, but not that exciting.

Taste is pleasantly malty, with a solid backbone of faintly toasted malts, leading to a clean but pronounced American hop bitterness on the back of the palate. Clear feel lets the crisp hop characters shine, lending a freshness to the mix that a heavier body would mask.

Overall, a pretty nice hoppy American amber ale. It's smooth, and the malt is perhaps a little less pronounced than it could be, but it's a good, if somewhat middle-of-the-road example of the style.

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Photo of akorsak
3.87/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle from Liquid Solutions.

A: The ale is an amber red color, showing off some garnet red highlights and some auburn orange. The head is a concentrated band at the top of the beer, showing a potential for lacing.

S: The ale has a nutty toffee malt aroma with a mere kiss of hops.

T: The flavor continues the malty nose, presenting a nutty malt flavor that has caramel elements. The malts are very chewy, providing a depth that is very filling and grainy. Hops are incidental, bittering the ale without interfering with the malt profile.

M: The thicker malts provide a nice taste without overdoing it. They are strong enough to evoke some spice notes in the ale that don't really exist.

D: An enjoyable ale, this makes for a decent sipping ale.

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Photo of beertunes
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in Imperial pint. Poured a nice medium brown with a tall, fluffy, off-white head that had very good retention and lacing. The aroma was mostly sweet malts, some caramel notes, with a trace of hops.

The taste was also mostly sweet malt, with a bit of hops and spice. The body was typical, perhaps a bit on the thin side. Drinkability was good, but with the beer being so average, I can't see having more than one.

Overall, this is a decent little beer, worth a shot if you see it.

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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 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 scruffwhor
3.4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper color with a one finger head that recedes to an ok film of foam. Nice toasted bread and grain aroma with some light grass hops in the nose. The starts with an oily malt of bread and some cooking oil. The middle mellows the oilyness on the palate. As the beer warms, the palate becomes more grainy and malty. Pretty nice session amber ale.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Equal parts brown and red ale in the appearance. Full inch of off white head. Aroma was red malts.

Decent hopping paired with red and brown malts. Hides alcohol well. Already coming across like a red ale winter warmer. Actually pretty enjoyable that way. Enough hopping, malt variety to keep it interesting and hearty. Best of both worlds, one of their better beers.

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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 Beerandraiderfan
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a little on the brown side as opposed to red or amber, but those are the three colors mixed together I'd say that produces the final visual product. Good clarity, looks professional, 1" head. Aroma was more in line with a red ale.

Decent hopping, red ale malt flavor, peatyness is there. Alcohol stays off the tongue, good job for something over 7%, wouldn't know it from the taste. Light body absorbs bitterness, this one is similar to a winter warmer but equal parts red ale. Stays lively on the palate compared to a winter warmer.

Really a better beer for fall or spring than winter. Unless you need a break from big ass beers.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.61/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep amber color with a one finger head of thick foam. The head fades very fast leaving only a trace of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma of the brew is heaviest of a caramel and slightly doughy smell. Along with these aromas are some light darker fruit aromas of raisin and plum. With a little bit of a spice and alcohol that are there as well create a very inviting aroma overall.

Taste – The taste starts with a sweeter caramel and fruit flavor with a slightly doughy and bready flavor. Some more darker fruit flavors of raisin and plum come to the tongue as the flavor advances. Some light alcohol, grassy, and light herbal flavors come to the tongue as well more toward the end of the taste and with the combination of sweeter and malty flavors, one is left with a nice and robust sweet but balanced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the rather thick and creamy side with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. For the sweeter and slightly boozy flavors of the brew the feel is very nice making for a nice robust brew.

Overall – A rather tasty and nice brew overall. Good flavor with a lighter alcohol hit and a good sweeter and maltier taste.

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Photo of champ103
4.13/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark reddish/amber color. A large beige head of over two fingers form with good retention. Lots of sticky lace is left behind.
S: Caramel malt and dried dark fruits. Nutty and light oak notes. Light chocolate. A very faint lingering hop bitterness.
T: Follows the nose. Lots of caramel malt. Some dried dark fruits balances out the sweetness from the caramel. There is a nice almond flavor as well.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. Pretty creamy, smooth, and easy to drink. I can drink this all day.

A really good beer. Big Sky continues to impress me. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The pour a deep brown color, the head light chocolate, the lace in average sheets.. Nose is malt, slightly sweet, the start is sweet, the top flimsy. The beer finished with a potent hop spicy bite, medial carbonation, and a tad dry. Not a great beer, but quite quaffable, although I think it could or should have more body for a "Winter Warmer".

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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 ZAP
3.77/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Updated thoughts....a nice red ale or perhaps a blend of a red and a brown ale...not a big-ass winter warmer by any means but decent enough....I think the nose on this is very good..toasted caramel nouget...there is a bit of a sour aftertaste but overall this has a nice toasty flavor....worth trying...

-Nice sweet aroma...Nice malty sweet ale...hops balance perfectly and make this an easy drinking tasty winter ale..solid malt base...a good solid tasty easy drinking ale.

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Photo of Durge
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A clear mahogany color with a big fluffy light tan head with good lace. The aroma is a light nutty sweetness with some malt, but very mild. It has a mellow woody-nut flavor, some vanilla with a full body feel but sort of flat at the same time. I detect a little smokiness and there is a slight hop bitterness at the back of this. Drinkable enough and definitely worth a try.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.29/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a super-hazy, golden-orange color, some brighter yellow tips around the edges. Packed with lots of tiny pieces of sediment that float around the beer. Creamy, beige-colored head settles fast and doesn't leave much lacing. Aroma was full of malts, up and down, toasted caramels, mild spices, a deep, sweet, musty earthiness to it as well. Some sweeter fruits sit in the background, like dates and prunes. Hops? Basically nowhere to be found on the nose. Taste is even more jam-packed with caramel malts and spices, giving it a slight warming feeling. Alcohol comes through, but doesn't really hinder. Sweet, sharp fruitiness comes through; prunes, grapes, almost wine-like as it meshes with the mild alcohol character. Some more spices come through as the beer warms, but I really can't put my finger on what they might be. Earthy tones and deep, sweet esters come through - this beer is almost a little too malty and sweet. The hops are still mostly absent. Slight nuttiness along with some grains in the aftertaste, but still pulling heavy on the sweet caramel malts and deep fruitiness. Medium body, medium carbonation.

Eh, I wasn't really feeling this one. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good, either. A little to unbalanced with the malt in my opinion, and the sweetness just wasn't controlled or able to stand all on its own. Decent, but certainly nothing special.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber color with a thick layer of fine-bubbled beige foam. Pretty good retention and some decent lacing on the glass.

Smells like a caramel covered apple, the sweet bready and slightly toasted malts are complimented by a touch of yeasty fruitiness and just a hint of grassy hops.

Taste is pretty good with a wide variety of maltiness on the palate...grainy, toasty, nutty and even a bit of cocoa. Decent hop bitterness lingers a bit on the back of the tongue. A bit light bodied and flavored for the 'Winter Ale' designation on the label, especially from a snowy, cold northern state. It is a pretty easy drinker and tastes great for an amber ale, which is what I am rating it as. I would drink it again and me thinks it would be even better fresh off the tap.

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Photo of warnerry
3.36/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours clear copper with one and a half fingers of tan head. Head has very good retention and leaves nice rings of lacing.

S - Toffee and caramel are prominent, with a bit of clove and citrus.

T - Similar to smell, with quite a bit of bitterness from some citrus hops and the spices. Leads to a dry finish.

M - Medium mouthfeel starts slightly sweet and transitions to bitter and dry on the finish.

O - A decent amber/ winter warmer, though the bitterness isn't particularly desirable in this case.

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Photo of KarlHungus
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours clear amber color. The head is two inches in height, and recedes slowly into nice lacing. The aroma is of caramel malt, and grapefruit. The taste is of sweet with only a hint of hops in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with lively carbonation, but is somewhat sticky. Overall, this is a nice beer, and I could drink it again.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this one on tap at the top of Big Mountain in Whitefish.

A - Pours a crystal clear amber red, finger of head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - Some earthy hops followed by caramel and toffee malts.

T - Much like the scent, a hopped up amber ale with a touch of peppery spice on the finish. The bready caramel malts linger of the finish with some bitter earthy hops.

M - Medium bodied ale that goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

D - A very tasty amber ale. I really enjoyed many of the amber ales I indulged while visiting Montana, as many struck a nice hop/malt balance. Easily sessionable.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Big Sky's Powder Hound Winter Ale last week for $1.69 at The Lager Mill. I haven't seen this beer around before, so I decided to take a chance on it, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but I know it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label looks nice and I think it's pretty well done. It poured a light amber color that was slightly golden and it took on some amber hues when held to the light with a finger and a half worth of slightly off white head that that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left a nice ring of lacing. This was a nice looking beer but the color and head were just a little on the weak side.

S- The aroma starts off with some very sweet caramel malts that imparted a very sweet, grainy, caramel, and a slight brown sugar like aroma. After that comes the hops which seem to be floral and citrusy with the citrus fruit aspect seeming to stick out the most imparting a sweet mango, orange and grapefruit aroma. The aroma is nice, I like the caramel and citrus fruit aromas but it has a little to much sweetness to it.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with the malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness to it and imparts a grainy, bready, and caramel like flavor. After that comes a light amount of spices that aren't that noticeable and are followed by a good amount of citrus and floral hops with the citrus still seeming to stick out the most and they impart some nice light citrus hops flavors with no one fruit overpowering each other. On the finish there's a slightly lighter amount of medium bitterness with a pretty grainy and slightly sweet aftertaste. This was a nice tasting beer that seemed to be pretty balanced and very true to style.

M- Smooth, clean, crisp, on the lighter side of being medium bodied with a slightly higher amount of medium carbonation that was just a little prickly. This beer had a nice mouthfeel that was very true to style.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and an above average example of the style, it had all the things that I look for in a good Amber Ale and the balance was pretty nice. This beer had very good drinkability, it was very smooth, crisp, a little refreshing, and it had a decent amount of flavor to hold my attention, I could drink a few of these without a problem, it's a pretty easy drinking Red Ale and I like that. What I liked the most about this beer was the drinkability, it was very good and better then most Amber Ales and it also hid it's alcohol very nicely. What I liked the least about this beer was how sweet it smelled, it had me preparing for the worse but luckily all that sweetness didn't make it to the taste. I would buy this beer again to keep around in the fridge since I think it's a good example of the style and it's always nice to have a quality easy drinking Amber Ale on hand, I recommend this beer to just about anyone, fans of the style should really appreciate it. All in all I was pretty happy with this beer and I thought it was very solid and a good example of the style. the last couple Big Sky beers I had weren't too impressive so it's nice to get one that I enjoy. My only problem with this beer is that I think it's miss marketed, I don't really think of this as Winter Ale, it has that nice Amber Ale flavor that is perfect for the summer and fall and I think this beer would do much better if marketed as a year round Amber Ale instead of a Winter Ale, but that's just my opinion. Either was this was pretty solid and I'm happy I tried it.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.23/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Super nice color which seems dark chestnut brown, ahh but hold it to the light and it becomes a lovely glowing amber agate with a deep reddish tone, gorgeous color. Head is tannish and thin, leaves very minimal lace. Aroma is all malts, sweet, dulled citrusy-like, fresh, touching on some caramel and nutty bagel dough. Taste has a smooth and easy malt profile, very drinkable, lightly sweet, some caramel, lightly chewy, bready light, some notions of dulled citrus melon, nutty dryness and dried hops come in late with some light dryness and calm bitterness. Solid medium body feel with a smooth, lightly creamy start and center, a bit chewy, finish goes to lighter drying of hops and nuts with a touch of bittering bite. A nice drinker this one! Quite subtle with a good amount of easy hefty malts. Its like taking Capital's Autumnal Fire and blending it with their Amber.

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 514 ratings.
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