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: 525
Photo of WesWes
4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a beautiful ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, victory, and bisquit malts. It is quite toastey and breadlike. The taste is excellent. It has a sweet, yet dry and toastey flavor with a bitter breadlike finish. There are hops in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. It has awesome aroma and taste; a great seasonal brew and a great drinker.

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Photo of oberon
3.77/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light brown with a little orange tint to it with a thin wispy head,aromas of chocolate and roasted nuts most prevalent with some orange and citrius in there as well.A malt tilted flavor a little sweet and nutty a little chocolate in thee with some pine and citruis in the finish wich becomes more pronounced as it warms a little.A decent brew big in the malt department tastes alot better as it warms.

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Photo of GreenCard
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: light brown, slight haze, medium cap of fine-beaded foam, tiny bit of lace

Aroma: darkly malty, pineapple-strawberry fruitiness, caramel, light hops, chocolate, coconut?

Flavor: initial malty sweetness with a slight roasty edge, then dark caramel followed by a hearty hop bitterness, slight vegetal note in the background, finishes semi-dry with a lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel: medium body, fine carbonation, slight alcohol warmth

Other comments: Reminds me of a barley wine without the high abv, if that makes sense. Same sort of maltiness : hoppiness balance and similar esters. Like a scaled-down version of Old Saguaro Barley Wine.

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

Appearance – This one had a monstrous head that filled half the glass with a moderate pour. The foam went down slowly, pitting and lacing the glass. The beer itself is a bright, clear ruby color. This one is gorgeous.

Smell – The sharp citrus hops are complimented with a piney bite. Together they mask but do not hide the light malt base. The aroma is wonderful combination of complex pine and citrus hops.

Taste – The malt base comes out HUGE at the taste. I can’t believe the disparity between the nose and the tongue on this one. The hops are actually in the background here, and the creamy, caramel malt is incredible. It loses some of its Amber/Red Ale character, but this is awesome.

Mouthfeel – This one is very creamy in the mouth. It is medium-bodied and just refreshing enough to foot the bill.

Drinkability – A little off-style but an excellent interpretation to say the least. I was quite impressed.

Update – What a difference a year makes. I decided to re-review this with a 2004 (my Dec '04 review was with a 2003) vintage and was greatly disappointed.

The appearance was so-so and the aroma rather cheap. It lost a lot of its smoothness and really didn’t have any stand out flavors like I remember. My initial review had a 4.5 for Appearance and 4.0s for everything else, but I’m changing each of the five rating categories to 3.5.

Update – The 2005 was a lot maltier than years before. They really are working on this recipe. The flavor is grainy but beefy malts. Straight 3.5s seems to be this beer’s home so I’ll leave it as such. It’s a nice ale though and I would definitely recommend.

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Photo of PopeJonPaul
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rich copper-red with a thin tan head, smelled like malted milk balls. Tastes like cinnamon and brown sugar, heavy on the malty sweetness, maybe a bit of nutmeg in there as well, they didn't overdo it one the spices, which is nice. Not much hops, but what there is adds a pleasant citrus bitterness. Quite smooth and drinkable, went especially good with Yam Yam's BBQ (Portland, OR.) I wouldn't really call it a Winter "Warmer" though.

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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 GClarkage
4.42/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11/08/04- Sampled at the Big Sky Brewery on tap.

*taken from notes in August 2004

Appearance- Pours a dark amber-chestnut color with a small head and slight lacing.

Smell- Sweet smelling carmel and malt with maybe some citrus also. Lemon?

Taste- Yummy, malty and slightly nutty sweet taste. Definitely some citrus in the background also.

Mouthfeel- Excellent carbonation. Goes down soooo easy. Smooth and creamy.

Drinkability- Extreme drinkability. Had this for the first time a couple of years ago and it was the beer I most crave from Montana. Awesome beer!

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Photo of RushLimbmalt
4.4/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A nice dark red ale with a fat off white head. The aroma of citrusy hops and crystal malts. The flavor is a bit maltier than the aroma and the hops come on strong towards the end. I was going to rank this beer a bit lower, but as I sit and sip this brew it is making it's personality known and I am growing fond of it. It is not as strong as most winter brews, but it is definitely drinkable.

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Photo of henrysunset
3.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

huge foamy head of tiny tan bubbles. Beer is clear and dark reddish brown, inbetween a brown ale and an amber.

Smell is very nice, malty and slightly sweet, what hops i can sense are sharp and orangey/citrusy.

Taste is somewhat sweet as the smell suggested, not too hoppy, quite mellow infact. Pleasing, althoug quite mellow. Aftertaste is very fine too, a mellow toasty sweetness.

Mouthfeel is also nice, there is a lot of thickness and body here to enjoy.

It's a great winter ale. Would be refreshing, especially with a hearty winter meal.

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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 marc77
3.23/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Ruddy bister hue, topped by a beige head that recedes into a lean, but steadfast layer. Frothy, loose lace remains. The aroma is a combination of mellow cocoa and tepid, slightly tart lemon like citrus. Floral hints arise as it breathes, but as a whole the aroma is understated and functional at best. The flavor is a facsimile of the nose. Mild cocoa and citrus are prevalent, although an undertone of caramel sweetened, dark biscuit adds depth. Hop bitterness is paltry and leaves ample, but inobtrusive residual sweetness. Virtually bereft of esters, save a trace figgish complement. Lightly bodied and conducive to easy quaffing. Needs more dextrins to bolster the malt backbone. Finishes squeaky clean, with only a ghostly hint of roasted barley. An innocuous, well crafted, albeit unimaginative brew. Excellent drinkability, limited savorability.

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

Clear light auburn in color with an off-white head that fades fast leaving a sporadic sheeting of lace.
Caramel malts with a hint of dark fruits. Raisins and a bit of over-ripe peach.
Fruity taste, but not overly so. Less spice than I was expecting from a "winter ale" though. There is a very mild hoppiness that comes into play by mid-glass as the beer finishes on a dry note.
Mediumish body with nice mellow carbonation. Slightly oily too.
Not a bad beer, by any means, but I had hopes that this dog had a little more bite. Thanks to Bighuge for the sample.

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Photo of HiroProtagonist
3.24/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Powder Hound was served from a 12 oz bottle. In a Duvel tulip, the beer was a very attractive deep ruby-orange, and was topped by an off-white head that left very nice and ornate lacing. The underpowering nose was sweet with a delicate strawberry maltiness and a subtle citric hoppiness. The taste was also rather bland for a winter beer. The malt character was quite mild and not as sweet as the nose suggested, with no roastiness to be found. Instead, a Belgian strong ale-like focused strawberry essence presided, and held up throughout the mild bitter finish. I am reminded somewhat of a wimpy version of the Victory Grand Cru. My conclusion is that this beer is an experimental variant of the Belgian pale strong style (though there was no spice), perhaps an attempt to blend this style with another, altough with what I don't know...maybe with an amber/red ale as the style designation suggests, or an English pale ale. The result is not very inspiring, but isn't bad, just bland. The body of the beer is decent, though carbonation seemed fizzle out to quickly. An interesting beer, but fails to make a splash.

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

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's for $1.09.

Poured a very dark orange-amber color. Moderate off-white head. Modest lacing.

Smell is very sweet malts. This smell is almost overpowering, very candyish. No other characteristic sticks out.

Taste is surprisingly subdued when compared to the smell. Starts out very sweet and malty, but not so massive as in the smell. The finish has a crisp hoppy zap to it. That's pretty much all there is - sweet malt followed by a little hoppiness. Not sure how this is supposed to be wintery.

Somewhat creamy mouthfeel, which just adds to the what-the-hell- is-this-going-for feeling I have about this beer.

This is moderately drinkable, but I find nothing essential about it, especially when viewing it as a winter brew. I doubt this will replace Anchor's OSA or Celebration in many people's heart's anytime soon.

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Photo of Thrasher
4.09/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A sweet malty beer good for keeping out the winter chill. Darkish red-amber with small dwindling head and some lace. Malts are very nice, warming, leathery and a touch smoky. Lots of biscuit sweetness and a sweet currant fruitiness that slowly becomes apparant. Lots of Irish red ale malt character too. Hops are not very substantial but they do the job with a definite herbal character. A long, lingering sweetness entices you to take another sip. I was surprised how good this beer was. It at first seemed like an average malty winter brew but as it asserted itself I was more and more impressed with its complexity. This beer would go well with foods, maybe smoky meats, but I also wonder how it would do alongside a sweet caramelized dessert. It tastes a little like the burnt top of a creme brulee.

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Photo of TastyTaste
3.78/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep reddish brown color, with a fluffy white head. More of a floral smell than anything else I am getting.Tastes of caramel sweetness and a little hops finish. Also has that little floral hint in the flavor. Pretty tasty, maybe not enough intriguing factors to be considered 'great'.

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Photo of Brent
3.06/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The bottle did not give any guidance as to the style, and all the way through the beer, I kept wondering "what are they trying to accomplish here?" Not a bad beer, but it seemed to lack direction. Lightly sweet overall, with some bitterness at the front which quickly mellowed. I couldn't decide if this winter seasonal was an amber ale, or a very, very mellow old ale style. Nice, but not much "oomph" for a winter seasonal.

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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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Photo of beerguy101
3.26/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Medium brown color, medium head. A medium bodied brown/amber ale, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Slightly sweet malts, slight orange taste. Good flavor. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter. Nice warming beer.

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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 frank4sail
3.3/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Caramel malt nose that smells rich. Brownish rust color with some hazyness. 1/2 inch tan head that is quite rich and creamy. Medium smooth mouth with a slightly watery feel to the finish. The taste is quite bitter with hints of grapefruit and gin. The bitterness is not balenced enough on the malt side of the brew. The taste lacks sweetness and the feel lacks body. Interesting in it's bitterness but not a beer with much drinkability.
Cheers to budgood for the sample!

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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 beernut7
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark auburn with a thin head. The heavy aroma of toffee and sweet malt reminds me of some of my favortie British ales. A distinct bitterness is the first thing to hit the palate followed quickly by heavy deep chocolate and toffee flavor. Fairly smooth body supports the well-rounded taste. Very much like Sam Smith's Winter brew with a bit more solid bitter. Very taste and worth the shipping.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
3.36/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Amber in color with an off-white head. Aromas are caramel malts, bready, spicy and a bit fruity. The flavor is spicy, bready and malty. Light-medium in body, with a spicy, medium bitterness in the dry finish. The alcoholic warmth is also present in the finish. Overall, a decent winter brew.

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Photo of BeerAngel
3.07/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark amber/copper with a small off-white head. The aroma reveals a light malt and wet dog aroma (?). Must be the hound ;-). The taste is a toasty bread taste with mild hops and finishes with an alcohol taste…fortunately no hound this time. This is a light bodied brew that is decent at best. It is not highly complex and not extremely appealing. Thanks nonetheless to budgood1 for sending me this brew! Cheers!

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 525 ratings.
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