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: 520
Photo of russpowell
3.51/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Here's my take on this year's release:

Pours copper/reddish orange with 2+ fingers of sand colored head.
Above average lacing & head retention

S: Some breadyness, not much else

T: Earthy hops up front along with hints of cherry & brown sugary malt. Breadyness & tobacco-like hoppyness, along with a hint of raspberry & caramel as this warms. Finishes a bit warming, with citric & herbal hops, plus just a hint of orange jam

MF: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, a little juicy, & okay balance

Drinks pretty easy, this isn't as good as it was, but I could still easily session on this. This works better as winter warmer than an amber, but I'm not sure I'd agree with the original call

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

A - Dark brown beer but bright ruby red when held to light. Head is light brown and retains at an eighth inch. Minimal lacing.

S - A light greenish bitterness with a light caramel malt. Somewhat bland.

T - Starts bitter with a carbonation bite, then some creamy and caramely malts.

M - Medium consistency with medium to high carbonation.

D - Not a bad beer at all. Taste is simple but good.

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Photo of bodybyadam
3.37/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a deep dark brown filtered ale with a bead around the rim of the glass.

S: Nose of heavy malts, and distinct caramel.

T: Notes of heavy barley and malts, and sweet caramel malts. There’s a taste of “broccoli”. Distinct caramel malt comes out in the finish as well as the other deep malts with a woody flavor.

M: Nice medium chewy feel but light and smooth at the same time.

Elbows Up,

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

Picked up a couple of bottles from Sportsmans in early January for $1.59 each.

Beer poured an amber brown color with a nice off white head that is leaving a lacing behind. Nose was noticeably of floral hops at first and has faded into a maltyness as the beer warms. Taste is malty with a strong acidic oilyl finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth across the palate. Drinkability is OK. The residuall acidic oilyness is a bit too heavy on the palate. This is a nice beer to try with desirable attributes.

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Photo of shadow1961
3.45/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big Sky Brewing Co's Powder Hound Winter Ale pours a big fluffy tan
head over a cloudy red brew. It has steady carbonation and a bready,
malty nose. The flavor is malt and herbal hops, with a grassy hop finish.
The mouthfeel is crisp, dry, and a little tart. It's actually pretty appetizing,
but the alcohol by volume of 6.2% is a tad high for a session brew, but
just about right for a winter warmer. Well worth a try.

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Photo of rkuhnel
3.38/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle, this poured a dark amber color with a nice slightly off-white head that left good lacing. Nose of malts and some hops. Mouthfeel was average and flavors strong on caramel and overall a little on the sweet side. This brew as drinkable but not exceptional.

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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 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 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 aaronh
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep reddish amber body topped by a thin, ecru head. The head gradually fades to just a loose grouping of larger bubbles ringed in tight foam. The aroma is almost all caramel malt notes, but there's just a hint of woody herbalness. Light caramel flavors are supported by a slight alcohol note, then wrapped up with some bitterness. Slight, very slight medicinal/metallic note on the finish that's just a bit astringent. Mouthfeel is solid, but a bit over-carbonated. Drinakbilty is ok. A solid beer, but not exceptional.

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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 bradybeer
4.15/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark Copper Brown with a light brown head
Smell: no noticable aroma
Taste: Light malt taste with a hint of sweetness
Mouthfeel: Medium

While it maybe 6.20% I find this beer to be an easy drinking beer and would have no problem drinking more than a few of these.

I was a little disappointed in that I assumed that as a winter beer it would have been more along the lines a traditional winter ale-but all in all next year I will pck up a few sixers

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

Thanks flexabull for the brew.

Pours a nice clear amber color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, nice sticky lacing afterwards, and hangs around for awhile. Nice scent of sweet malts, slight hops, and caramel. The taste is malty with a nice bitter bite in the finish. Light-Medium body. Drinkable, a nice brew from Big Sky, could drink a few of these.

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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 JohnnyM2002
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a chalice at 50 degrees. Picked up in a trade from JohnGalt1 - thanks!!

A - Pours a clear amber with ruby red highlights. A medium, off-white head sprouted up right away, then melted away to a small ring, which eventually dissipated.

S - Strong aroma of spice and smoke. Slight hops lingered amongst the other scents; a little alcohol was also present.

T - Flavors of smoke and grapes jump out at front, followed by mild hops and spices. Alcohol comes out in the aftertaste, which lingered for a little too long. Dark cherries came out as the beer warmed up.

M - Light-to-medium body with some carbonation. A slight warming sensation on the way down, but a little rough on the finish.

D - I wouldn't really rush out to find this again, but I'm glad I got to try it. It's not bad - just pretty average. Thanks JohnGalt1!

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.43/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've had several beers from this brewery I thought were only fair, but this one definitely ranks above average to me.

It pours a copper color with plenty of white head.

Aroma is a medium amount of caramel malt smell.

Taste is really rather good. It is a nice balance of caramel maltiness, mild sweetness, and a bit of hop.

Moutheel and drinkability are good.

All-in-all, I would recommend this beer.

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

Poured a clear, deep rusty amber. A one finger light tan head formed on the pour. This finely carbonated ale was able to produce a fine yet thick collar of lacings.

Fruity and toasted bready malts. Red cherry skin, perhaps a touch of red grape also present. Some earthy and leafy (as in autumn) hops also there.

Dry malts, predominant flavours of toast and biscuit. A lesser, hazelnut flavour also present, along with intersting fruity notes, some maraschino cherry and red grape. The mild, earthy and leafy hops finished this one out.

A simple, refreshing, well made beer. Nicely balanced, refreshing, with a dry finish. Lacks real depth or complexity.

A very drinkable brew, definately sessionable. Would be a great brew to drink with friends or family that would normally stick to BMC or Molbatts, as long as they have to courage to try something new. May look for this one again if such a situation arises.

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Photo of 1whiskey
3.11/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a weizen glass. Deep mahogany red/brown, fairly clear when held to light. Nice frothy two finger head.

Very light nose is slightly sweet and sour with some hop character (EKG, Fuggles?) noticeable if you try hard. Real hard. Not much here.

Intitial taste is fairly clean, but a nice toasted grain flavor is evident. So where is the "avalanche of hops" Big Sky boasts of on their website? A low level of tea-like bitterness is the only thing I can detect here. It doesn't taste bad, it just doesn't taste like much at all. Seems like more a transition beer than a hearty winter ale.

Light bodied and highly carbonated, Powder Hound is nothing if not highly drinkable.

Probably not what most BAs are looking for in a hearty winter ale, but it's an easy drinker that could make for an unobjectionable transition beer for your friends, as well as an easy pairing with your typical pub fare.

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Photo of flexabull
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with a light head.

Aromas are a bit light. A bit of smoky sweet malt character there.

Flavor is pretty enjoyable. Reminds me a bit of Jubelale. A lot of sweet roasted malt character, a tinge of hoppiness. But maybe a tad light.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, but a bit lean in the finish.

Overall this is a pretty good beer. It is very drinkable, and session worthy. Certainly worth a try.

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Photo of watermelonman
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured to a nice deep amber color with a medium head that shrank but never disappeared. It left a few big lines of lace.

Malts and spices come through strong in the smell. The taste starts with malts and finishes with a combination of spice and cherry that come together well. The mouthfeel is medium and the drinkability is good.

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Photo of RJLarse
3.32/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I grabbed a six-pack of Powder Hound Winter Ale at a grocery to taste and review. I poured this beer in to a pint tumbler.

Pours a redish copper color and is clear. A two-finger head comprised of large bubbles forms, and dissipates rather quickly. Once the head is gone there is very little lacing on the sides of the glass.

It smells like black licorice. There are some fruity fragrances and a bit of a smoky burned aroma.

The taste is pretty good. There is a rich roasted malt backbone, and some smoked fruit flavors, along with a bitter hop finish. The flavors are reasonably well balanced, but perhaps a bit awkward.

Mouthfeel is thin, watery and heavily carbonated.

This is a drinkable beer, but not the best red ale I've had. Still it's one of the better beers I have had from Big Sky. I would have Powder Hound again, especially if it's on sale.

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Photo of Pooba001
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear light/medium amber with decent carbonation and a little head that fades to light lacing. Smell is bitter, notes of sour apple, butterscotch, and burnt something that I can't put my finger on tonight. I'm becoming less optimistic about this beer.

Taste is caramel malt, light hop flavor, without the off notes from the aroma. Still, I'd like to see something distinct here, some spice or hop or big maltiness. There's really nothing distinguishing about this beer, its a fairly run of the mill amber ale.

Mouthfeel is thin, not ideal. Drinkability is good, its an ok, non-objectionable beer that you could have a few of.

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Photo of supercolter
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Good appearance, some nice head and lacing.
Smell is good as well, some drier malt and darker fruit, maybe a touch of hops is all.
Taste is really similar to the smell
Mouthfeel is medium in body with a bit of carbonation.
Drinkability is very good. I would recommend it.

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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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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 520 ratings.
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