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: 526
Photo of Ragingbull
3.33/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber in color with flares of red and brown in the light. Heavy and thick mocha colored foam head after pouring into a pint glass. Still. Mild malty nose. . . so mild that its barely detectable. Smooth clean attack that almost creates a sweet sensation. Finishes with some hops that continue to grow bitter all the way through the aftertaste. Mild nut flavor seems to be present. I would rate it a B- myself.

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Photo of KeefD
3.07/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This pours a dark amber color with ok head and minimal lacing. Smells super sweet and malty. Taste is very much the same. Dark fruits when it's cold, but warms to a caramel, chocolate, raisin, prune flavor. Good carbonation, but it's can't overcome the thickness and syrupyness of this brew. Not the best winter offering I've had.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.21/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Rich amber in color. Clear, with nice 1 finger head and sticky lace. Looks like a pretty good amber.

Smell: Roasted malts, brown sugar, maybe a little alcohol

Taste: Definitely taste the malts. Strong bread flavor (gingerbread maybe?). This reminds me a lot of 2 Below. Aftertaste was mildly bitter/hoppy.

Mouthfeel: watery with mild carbonation = dissapointing

Drinkability: meh... I guess I'd drink it, but there's so many other better winter beers out there. Then again, I guess this is an amber. For an amber, it's alright.

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Photo of rebel1771
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown with a nice off white head.

Earthy smell with bready malts making up the body of the aroma. Just a touch of caramel finsihes off the aroma.

Roasted malt flavor jumps out of right up front with a touch of candied fruit in the end. The mouthfeel ends a little wattery but nice overall.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.93/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma starts with a hoppy (kinda' green grassy) and then moves to a soft and mild roasty character, with the latter staying stronger.
Clear amber of orange/red. Dense, thick creamy looking head that seems to leave a heavy mark after sups.
I drank this rather warm and this seems to have really brought the malt qualities to full capacity. Semi-rich roasty flavor state stays consistent throughout the drink. Red ale is probably a good style, as it's not as dark and heavy tasting as a winter warmer, but it pushes towards it nicely. The American style hops also keep it in the red ale category and balance the drink and prevent any significant sweetness. Dryness is minimal and shorter finish leaves me ready from another drink.
Surprisingly heavy for style and this is accentuated by the dense carbonation of seemingly very tiny bubbles. Good feel.
The heaviness of the drink allows this to be enjoyed at a slower pace, but the flavors of the drink push for faster drinking. Nice dilemma, huh? I enjoyed this. This brewery makes really accessible beers. Overall, while not blown away, it's good, reliable beer that I'll never turn down.

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Photo of WJVII
3.73/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has a moderate brown color with a slight purple tint when held to the light. Semi transparent with a nice thick tan head that is creamy and laces well. This beer has a slight oaky smell with definite malts and an earthiness. The taste is of rich roasted nuts and has a warmth to it. It has a deeper taste that the color would lead one to believe would be evident. The finish is not as smooth as I like, but the flavor makes up for that. This is a decent brew, glad to have tried it.

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Photo of OKCNittany
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: 1" off white head. Decent retention and lacing. Clear dark copper.

S: Light aroma of toasted malts. Had an initial fruityness that disappeared quickly.

T: Toasted malt flavor throughout. Finished with a nice hop bitterness and something slightly off.

M: Medium body with tingly carbonation. Dry citric hop finish.

D: Not a bad brew, but for Big Sky, it falls a bit short. I'm not entirely sure what's missing, but I'm sure a healthy dose of additional hops wouldn't hurt. (has it ever?)

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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 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 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 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 mattster
3.67/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Opened cold 12 oz bottle, poured into Nonic glass.

Poured a nice head of 1", died down to a hazy layer of bubbles atop a tea brown brew. Clear, mild bubbles in brew.

Smell is mild malty. Taste is clean. Very subtle, I taste some dark fruitiness - cherry on the back? Brew is has some sweetness with a nice pleasant finish. I actually expected more from this one, but it really didn't deliver much past average. It is a decent beer, maybe its just not cold enough here in Arizona to get the full effect. But all being said, it is a decent beer.

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Photo of CWiggins
3.22/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jeremy for this beer. I probably would have never heard of it had he not been so generous.

What should one expect when the words "winter ale" appear on a bottle? I have high expectations for any beer displaying those words, and when the brew turns out to be a hoppier or slightly stronger ale than regular beers by that brewer I am usually very disappointed. I sorely desire those words to mean something–specifically, I want those words to imply a spiced ale in the grand tradition of the winter warmer. But almost anything is possible with "winter" ales, and I found my desires once again thwarted by an otherwise decent ale.

This one pours a dark red/amber, and the dark tan head that forms quickly dissipates almost as fast. It emits a musky smell reminiscent of the woods on a cold autumn morning, with aromas of biscuit-like malts, Granny Smith apples, chestnuts, cotton candy, and cherry pie. The flavor isn't nearly as expressive: there is a mild malt body accented by hops at the finish. The hue of mildly roasted malts and sweet fruit is followed by an oatmeal-like aftertaste accompanied by that familiar hoppy bitterness. The bready aftertaste lingers for a pleasant amount of time.

I have to admit amber/red ales aren't my forte. In fact, I usually avoid them like the plague! Big Sky's Powder Hound Winter Ale is pleasant to drink and contains a breadth of interesting flavors, even if it doesn't meet my silly expectations.

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Photo of happygnome
3.3/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

a: pours a clear brown color with red hues noticeable produces a half inch of head that does dissapears fairlt quickly leacing a decent amount of lacing in the glass
s: deffinatly dominted by the malts, but im not surprised, cherry aroma detectable, bready malts though dominate aroma
f: sweet malts that are nicely toasted, cherry flavor is detectable, cherry flavor still noticeable, could use more hop bitterness
m: light to medium bodied beer with a good amount of carbonation

overall, this isnt that bad of a brew but it could use more hops

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Photo of CamuMahubah
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark amber into the mug.

Choice malt aroma.

Complex...this beer has a nice malty backbone with a particular bite. Delicate yet bold. More of a caramel malt than cacao. Hopped fairly well.

Medium with a nice lubricity. One smiles when the hop kick is realized.

This is a good beer and tonite the high is 25° and the low was around 4°, so the odds of this gal having a good show were pretty much spot on. Never once did she disappoint...

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Photo of tempest
3.21/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a firkin at Groveland Tap.

Came with a bit of head and lacing from the firkin, but I couldn't pull must aroma or flavor out of it, even as it warmed. Maybe some beers just aren't made to go on cask. I just got a little cocoa malt with decent hops bitterness. Felt nice and easy to drink, but I wasn't particularly inspired to drink more.

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Photo of stephens101
3.92/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours redish brown with good carbonation bubbling up into a nice two-finger thick tan head. Head sticks around a while with a good consistent lacing left behind all around the glass. Smells of malts, tea leaves, and a faint hint of spice. Taste isn't as complex and spicy as other winter warmers, but is very drinkable with some sugary sweetness, spicy apple, roasted malts and hoppiness involved. Very drinkable winter warmer from a consistent brewer, but with so much good competition out there in this style it's hard to overlook some of the others.

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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 Mebuzzard
3.15/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A glossy brown pour, nice fluffy head that settled to a soapy layer. A bit sticky on the glass.
Malt is first with the nose. A sticky sweetness, some soft fruit and cranberry. Musky a bit, too. Hops seem to keep it dry.
Sweet malt in the mouth, mixed with figs and cranberry. Subtle hints of dark fruits like plum, maybe some banana, but very little.
Notice of a slight crisp aftertaste, malt lingers a bit.

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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 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 ohoove
3.46/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Chestnut/copper with an eggnog colored head that quickly faded but left some decent to good lacing.
Really wasn't impressed or moved much by the smell , more malt and wheaty than anything else.
Not much of a winter warmer or an amber/ red. To me this leaned more towards an Oktoberfest style than anything else.
Wouldn't turn this down , then again i wouldn't actively seek this one out. I guess if you're curious give it a shot.
Forgettable but not regrettable.

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

Where did you come from? Kiss me

the best thing about this beer is its taste and mouthfeel.

Reddish amber color

Alcohol malt smell. Tastes like a light brandy with hops and more malts less alcohol taste.

I like this beer but it's still average compared to other holiday beers. Good beer to drink if David Byrne is attacking you.

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

Appearance: Copper-brown color with a golden-tan head.

Smell: Pine accented hops with a thick, malty undercurrent.

Taste: Initial toasted malt flavor finishes with a tart, minor hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Semi-oily with a waxy finish.

Drinkability: Decent brew. Accessible flavor and alcohol content. Decent example of the style, but not a standout.

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark amber colour with thick light tan head that retains well. Nice lace.

Nose is grassy, some citrus, and baked goods sweetness.

On the palate the palate is some faint chocolate, malt sweetness, and semi-harsh alcohol to hops flavor. The flavors aren't integrated very well.

Finish has a metallic grassy characteristic.

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 526 ratings.
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