An Otherworldly Experience

I was transported last night to a place far far away!  Perhaps it was a galaxy, and perhaps it was just a happy place that I have never been to before, but it was transforming!  It all started at my local beer store.  See in Idaho we don’t have a great selection of brews to choose from, but it is always getting better.  My Brother Jim in New Jersey has a Mecca that he can go to on a regular basis that has just about every kind of beer known to man or woman.  I however have to research, trade, and find these hole in the wall places to get the brews I’m really interested in.  Well I have been trying to get a hold of some Southern Tier Black IPA, or Oat since my brother has raved about them.  I actually went on the Company Web site and saw that they distributed in all places Lewiston, Idaho!  So I called the distributor and as it turns out they do distribute in Lewiston, but not Southern Tier, that goes to Alaska!

I asked at one of my local stores and I got a strange reply that Southern Tier is just trying to be shocking and that they chose not to carry their brews.  I thought that’s crazy!  When a smaller independent brew store opened up I began to patronize it.  On Monday I was in there, and the owner pulled out his only bottle of Southern Tier beer.  He just happened to have an Unearthly IPA, so I bought it and last night was transported….

This is an Imperial India Pale Ale and it pours a terracotta orange, and had pretty good head retention, with a one finger head staying with the glass all the way down, and some lacing clinging to the sides of the glass.  The nose on this brew is ironically very earthy.  It almost smells of clay and really good mushrooms, along with the customary citrus that goes along with an insane amount of hops.  This smell of this brew is very special.

The flavor was simply put…amazing.  The big hoppy citrus flavors hit first, but just when you think that bitterness is going to hit the palate, it is subverted to an earthy flavor that had a bready quality to it.  Finally the finish was warm and cozy.  This was evidently from the 11%  ABV, and it was again subdued, but left a warmth in the middle of your chest.

I wondered why it was so understated, then I read the ingredients–Red Wheat!  Enough said.  See in Whiskey when you have one that replaces the Rye in the Mash with Wheat it softens the finish.  If it can soften a 107 proof Whiskey, it surely can soften an 11% ABV brew.  Genius!

I am so glad I got to try this brew.  Ive got to get these guys here regularly!



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19 Comments on “An Otherworldly Experience”

  1. Rob Crozier
    January 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    You sure you and Jim aren’t getting a cut advertising for Southern Tier with all of the love lately for their beers?
    I take for granted the selection I have to choose from – I live fairly close to Jim – because my local store must carry every ST beer they make. The sad thing is that I usually pass their beers by and purchase something else because its always there. Now I definitely have to run out and I know what to buy this weekend – ST’s Oat and Unearthly!

    • Don
      January 22, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

      If only Rob! Truth is that the one beer I’ve had from them has been very well crafted and exciting to my palate! I was looking for the right words to describe the UnEarthly and I think Sublime does pretty well. It’s understated yet flavorful, and really demonstrates quality in the craft. No, no advertising dollars here, just some love for a great brew. And by the way if ST puts out a crappy one we’ll call them on it!

  2. January 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    ST was amazing but some of their beers have gone down hill. They changed a lot of the abv% in some of their beers. Unearthy is still great though and so is the Oaked version. If you ever need any ST let me know.

    • Don
      January 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

      Thanks Dave, I’m working on a Beer trade right now with Mike from Mikelovesbeer. I’ll see how that one goes and I’ll let you know. The biggest hold up will be finances. Costs a lot of money to ship brews around the country. I’d love to try STs Black IPA, their Oat, and the Oak aged unearthly. They all sound great.

  3. January 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    Sounds like an interesting twist in the recipe. Most ST beers I try are new to me, so I don’t know what they used to be like. So far, I’ve liked the few I’ve had. I still have a bottle of Ja-Vah in the fridge, maybe I’ll have it this weekend to help Jim with his Jets!

    • Don
      January 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

      Only the Oat helps Scott! Don’t you know anything about superstitions? It has to be just so. The red wheat really makes this brew special IMO. It softens the tang of the hops, and tames the burn of the alcohol, and gives it a real earthy quality that is unlike any beer I’ve had to this point. Granted I’m pretty new at this stuff! It was a great brew though.

  4. January 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Southern Tier is hit and miss, but I’d agree with you Don, about this one, and in particular the use of red wheat. I find myself putting wheat in most my homebrews. I’m actually brewing a wheat IPA for my lovely hop head wife this weekend.

    I find it very interesting that wheat has a softening effect in whiskey. I had some whiskey not too long ago and was shocked to pick up on beer flavors in the drink.

    • Don
      January 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

      Yes they all kind of come together, especially now that you have so many beers aging in old Bourbon Barrels. It actually reminded me of an Old Fitzgerald Whiskey on bothe elements of the nose and flavor. The only connection I can make is with the Wheat. Not sure what else would have that effect. The Wheat IPA you are brewing sounds great too. Enjoy it!

  5. @BeerPoet
    February 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Since you asked, Don. From my tweet review:

    Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA: Toffee and movie popcorn nose. Mouthfeel melts like butter. Big candy-coated hop-flower flavor. Yum.

    • Don
      February 3, 2010 at 9:46 am #

      Well, I’m glad you liked it Chad. To me it had a big earthiness to it that the only way I could describe it was almost mushroom like, but of course it didn’t taste like mushrooms, but was just very big. Perhaps your Hop-flower description is better. Thanks for stopping back and letting me know your thoughts.

      • @BeerPoet
        February 3, 2010 at 10:17 am #

        I got an earthiness, too. Not on the mineral side but Kinda like peat moss. Subtle, but it was there. Couldn’t figure out how to work it in to 140 characters, though.

        • Don
          February 3, 2010 at 10:27 am #

          You need to start a blog to more fully express yourself! Tough to do with 140 char limitation! Anyway I’m glad you picked up on that too. Peat is a good way to describe it, but not like bad scotch, but more like a very grounded flavor that I though combined in a very great way with the hops and red wheat.

        • @BeerPoet
          February 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

          Been thinking about a blog, Don. Then I’d have to keep up with you and your brother! Not sure I could do it. I like the twitter 140 character reviews challenge, actually. As a writer, I look at it as a writing skills test that requires me to drink beer.

        • Don
          February 5, 2010 at 10:48 am #

          Chad: I don’t think it would be all that difficult to keep up with Jim and I. We’re pretty light weight! But I can respect the twitter thing. It is a challenge to make 140 word reviews! And if it keeps you drinking great beer all the better! Two words man…Monk’s Blood! Wow was that great. Did you get some? I also picked up the Hell or High Watermelon and the Live Free or Die IPA. This seems to be another great brewery to keep on the radar!

  6. @BeerPoet
    February 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    I picked up some Monk’s Blood yesterday. Along with a wheat wine from Boulevard Brewing. Almost picked up an imperial stout from Southern Tier but decided to leave that for next week’s beer run.

    Maybe it’s because it’s the two of you on one blog. The reviews are plentiful and, might I add, well written.

    • Don
      February 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      That means a lot from a guy that gets paid to write things! Thanks. Try the Monk’s Blood. You’ll be back for more!

  7. February 11, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    I picked up the Oaked version of this. holy crap was it good. I’m going to write about it in the next week or so. The oaked version had a pronounced natural whiskey flavor

    • Don
      February 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

      That sounds great. Unfortunately they didn’t have the oaked version, or I would have picked that up too. I’m always up for beer that has been oak aged! It seems to bring out a lot more complexity in the brew. It is like a boilermaker without the fuss of two glasses!


  1. Hopslam: Overrated? | Thank Heaven for Beer - February 23, 2010

    […] one: Southern Tier’s Oak Aged Unearthly Imperial India Pale Ale.  After reading about the non-oaked version over at Beer and Whiskey Bros, I had to try it, and boy an I glad I did.  This beer is packed full of complexity, even moreso […]

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