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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: 255 | Ratings: 513
Photo of Eisen
2.89/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured light amber with white head that fades into thin lacing. Doesn't smell or taste like much. Alcohol dominates the flavor, and there is relatively not that much alcohol. I've drank this beer since high school and it has either gone down in quality or failed to keep up.

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Photo of bmwats
3.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Dark golden hue. Moderate amounts of rising effervescence. Pours a 1 finger, bubbly, white head. Some slight yet persistent lacing.

S: Yeast, sourdough, and pine nuts. A little orange.

T: Hops and yeast. Some lightly sweet and acidic lemon and orange citrus.

M: Crisp yet syrupy. The elevated alcohol is apparent. Biting finish with almost a synthetic sweetness that lingers on the palate.

D: Elevated alcohol will slow your progression a bit, but pretty much sessionable.

Atmosphere is pretty good. Dark hue, continual effervescence, slight head and lacing. Nose is Yeasty with some pine hop. Yeasty, hoppy, and a little sweet. Overall, this is a good quaff.

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Photo of Scotchboy
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle to Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A: Chill-hazed gold with white head and lace.

S: Grapefruit and a robust malt backbone, caramel and nutty aromas, slightly toasted, orange and orange peel, hint of spice, bready, toffee.

T: Toasted grain and bread, with caramel and toffee as the Amber-side of this beer takes over. There is a slight hop bite with citrus and orange and grapefruit peel. Hint of something like allspice as well, but I could be wrong...

MF: Medium bodied, no real alcohol presence, there is a bit of spice/hop bite on the finish.

O: Decent overall, a pleasant amber ale with a nice underlying hop presence.

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Photo of brewbattles
3.2/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:


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Photo of Spikester
3.59/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber with a modest white head, Not much on the lacings. Smell is malty and bready yeast.
Taste is earthy bitter hops fair amount of caramel malts. Hops are floral grapefruit and earthy,
Mouthfeel is medium with average carbonation. It has a medium dry bitter finish.
Overall an unusual amber. Almost an Impy Amber if such a style exists. Needs more spiice and malts for a winter warmer. Otherwise a tasty brew.

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Photo of archyquaffer
3.73/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a longneck into a shaker pint. A moderate pour produces about an inch of billowy head, which reduces quickly but settles into a sticky lace. The beer is a fairly pale but hazy golden color. It's quite attractive, but it does not look like an amber/red, as this site characterizes it.

Subdued piney and citrus hops on the nose, with perhaps a little funk, and some biscuity malt in the aroma-flavor. I also detect undertones of caramel, and a little bit of non-specific fruitiness that, with the hop bitterness, is somewhat reminiscent of mild ruby grapefruit or cranberry but without the pucker. Warming alcohol as the beer progresses.

This beer strikes me as more of a pale ale than a red (perhaps an "Imperial" pale?). It's very drinkable and quite good, and makes a good session brew if you don't mind a little buzz...

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.74/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

light and sweet and awfully german for the style. not a winter warmer in my book, too light on the malt, an almost golden brew, not much head to speak of, but an impressive aroma of german hops and honey sweetness. the flavor matches well. its balanced but easily malt forward, not spiced like so many are, but warming in an alcoholic sense, and for the fact that this is not particularly drinkable, and improves with temperature. unfolds if you will, like origami, really works for what it is, but it is not a conventional winter warmer. about what I would expect from big sky, quintessentially Montana. big and bold, unique but conservatively decent. a good match with February, less so with November, but it was cold tonight and it did it well enough for me.

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Photo of UpToMeBeer
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was a pleasant surprise. It got buried in the back of my fridge somehow over the winter. Unburied it last night. It seemed almost like an IPA with the floral hops and hints of orange, lemon and tangerine. There's a caramel-sweet edge to it. It goes down really easily. Ironically, fit my hot summer night really well. Maybe next time I'll get to try it on a cold winter night. Well-made brew!

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Photo of TheMarkE
3.74/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Golden caramel with moderate foam and moderate lacing.

Smell: Caramel, pine, floral hops.

Taste: Sweet caramel, earthy hops, grapefruit.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, creamy, with a nice bitter hop aftertaste.

The Verdict: I like it. Instead of the typical winter warmer, this is more like Sierra Nevada's Celebration. Not nearly as good, but similar. Good balance of hops and malt, good flavor.

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Photo of GossageBrewery
3.03/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this amber ale from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, poured a clear amber color, produced a nice off white head, decent retention and it left a good amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted of caramel and lemongrass. Medium in body, this ale had a foundation of malted grain, sweet caramel and some citric lemon hops. Somewhat bitter- Dry finish. Overall, not very flavorful- its decent for a session beer but for a "Winter Ale" i was expecting a bit more umph!

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Photo of spicelab
3.76/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. BB 14 March 2013, but you can thank shonk importers Beermasons for that.

Lovely looking beer, bright and clear orange with just the right sized head, barely off-white, that falls slowly to a nice raised ring.

Decent amounts of candied hops served up by a lightly caramelised malt backbone. Thanks to the age hops are quite subdued, but still get some nice tangerine notes.
Some alluring barky, nutmeg notes and other brown spices which I can't nail, and plenty of strawberry.

Flavours follow the nose and introduce an earthy pine bitterness, which although subdued has me questioning whether I've interpreted the bottle dating correctly.

Medium and slightly syrupy, with silky carbonation paving the way for a modest bitter finish.

Yet another solidly crafted and enjoyable offering from the most consistent brewery I know.

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Photo of ADZA
3.79/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Winter Ales for me can be very hit and miss so glad this is an American Amber without the spices so should be interesting and pours a clear amber hue with a two finger creamy head and lacing here and there,the smell is very malty with hints of caramel,toffee,dried fruit,a hint of raisins and fruity hops in the background,the mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and has tastes of toffee,candy,marzipan the slightest hit of piney resinous hops followed by a nice citrus bitterness and overall i like this as a winter ale and as the old saying goes less is best definately applies in this case,a very drinkable amber.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.29/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Served in a willibecher at Firkin.

Do they have skiing teams in the Big sky conference? Regardless, this stuff pours a clear amber topped by a finger-and-a-half of cream-white foam. The nose comprises very light grapefruit peel, mixed greens, light honey-dripped biscuit, and very light toffee. The taste brings in more of the same, along with more greens, a touch more sweetness for the honey and biscuit, and an added hint of grass. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta/kinda drying finish. Overall, an alright, if thoroughly nondescript, little beer.

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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 Mdog
3.32/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Amber, good head.

Smell: Oxidized, over ripe fruits, prune?

Taste: An unusual mix of fruit, toffee, and earthy flavors. Kind of muddled.

Overall: Received a few bottles as a gift. I think they may be a little old but reviewed anyway. This beer reminded me why I usually avoid "amber ales" and "winter ales" unless they are highly recommended. An uninspiring mix of fruit and toffee flavors, at least it didn't have metallic hop flavors like my least favorite red/amber ales.

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

i'm realizing that "winter ale" can mean almost anything to different people.
this one pours a clean, clear, reddish amber with micro buubles rising straight to the top.
this one also smells like a forest of hops.
tastes pine-y, grapefruit-y; almost a forset of hops. it's clean and refreshing, none the less....
overall, for a 7.2% i can hang with this one. it does appear the hops in american beer is to hide the abv and make it easier to drink but this one hasa decent balance of pine-y to abv that i can handle.

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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 TheSixthRing
3.86/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a clear, bright orange amber with a pillowy white, 2 finger head. Fantastic retention. Lacing coats the glass from top to bottom. Great stick. Very impressive.

Smell - Healthy dose of caramel malt hits the nostrils, complemented nicely by a slightly floral, slightly citric hop aroma. Wonderful smelling brew.

Taste - Strong caramel malt backbone from start to finish, starts with the caramel before a noticeable citric hop character takes command by mid-taste, riding out through the finish. Slightly spicy. Hits briefly on cocoa. Leaves behind a caramel, slightly toasted biscuit and a slight orange pith hop aftertaste. Good, but nothing special.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, with active carbonation. Creamy, smooth and entirely drinkable.

Overall - Too bad the flavor doesn't quite match up with the rest of the qualities this beer presents, otherwise this thing could be a monster of a winter release. It's just missing one thing that would really set it off. Maybe if it popped a bit more on toasted notes? A pinch more chocolate malt, maybe? In any event, it's a pretty darn good beer.

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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 UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the BevMo Holiday Beerfest held at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest. Taste is much the same with a mild hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of braker649er
2.95/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was a pretty good beer. But after it poured out from the bottle with a decent head, it lost all head quickly. I also had trouble placing the Amarillo hops, which I generally love. Still, there were overall good flavors involved. I liked it enough to try another bottle to see if that holds carbonation more.

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

Reviewed from tasting notes.

Poured out a darker amber with decent clarity, two fingers of foamy head that stayed around for a minute and a half, with medium levels of lacing left behind. Smells like an even blend of citrus peel, chocolate malt, and a garnish of vanilla on top. Tastes has a gentle toasted nut and vanilla character combined with a citrus / earthy hopping garnish. Noticeably absent is any kind of 'holiday spicing', for better or for worse. Feels thicker in flavor than the body actually is, gently carbonated and creamy in texture.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - clear bronze, thumb of off white head retained at a solid half finger cover leaving consistent lacing
S - big aroma of juicy citrus and leafy green hops ... very surprised (pleasantly) given typical winter ale expectations, rounded out with some grainy malt
T - strong resiny hop flavour hits hard, followed by some milder perfume and citrus, toasty grain malt background, this is more like an IPA or ESB which is always fine by me
M - medium body with a sharp bite that gets in the nostrils, finishes very bitter
O - tastes like an IPA, called a winter ale, categorized here a red ale, i don't know what the right answer is but I do know this is a very tasty treat that i will keep going back to while visiting Montana

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Powder Hound Winter Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 513 ratings.
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