Sunday, April 26, 2015

Southern Tier Live Pale Ale (4/10)

Southern Tier makes Pumking, which is one of my favorite pumpkin beers.  The rest of their product line, though tends to be hoppy enough to lose my interest.  Take this beer as an example.  Live is brewed with four malts and four kinds of hops, and is a bottle-conditioned (live yeast, hence the name) Pale Ale.

Pale Ales have never been a favorite of mine.  The style, especially when made here in the US, tends to be a vehicle for showcasing hops bitterness and downplaying the other elements of a beer's flavor.  I prefer beer with a more complex and balanced flavor profile, where malt, hops, and yeast esters all have a role to play in what I'm tasting.  With Pale Ales, you get a little malt and a lot of hops, and that's about it.

So, the question you're probably asking is why I would bother to review a Pale Ale knowing that I hate the style.  As with some of the others, the answer is "family".  A relative brought me a sampling of Southern Tier products after a visit to New York, and suggested that they might change my mind about the style.
Live has a very hoppy aroma.  The hops aroma is of that "grapefruit" variety, which I generally find more pleasant than the resin or "pine tree" aroma.

It pours a hazy slightly orange color with thick white head that dissipates relatively slowly.  It leaves behind a short sheet of lacing that slowly reincorporates into the beer.

The flavor starts malt-forward and nearly balanced, but the hops bitterness quickly swells up and takes over, as we'd expect for an American Pale Ale.  The bitterness continues long after you finish drinking it.  As an example of a Pale Ale, Live is as good as any.  It has the elements a Pale Ale fan is looking for, and is not so bitter that it couldn't be sessionable.

That being said, it's a Pale Ale and I just don't like the style, so it gets a 4 out of 10 for me.  Beer Advocate rates it much higher, 83-88 or good to very good.  Rate Beer likes it even better, giving it a 96 overall.  Probably, as an example of the style, it warrants those 8/10 or 9/10 ratings.  For those of us who dislike the style

Southern Tier's web site says you can find Live at the Hayden Run Giant Eagle, Cemetery Road Kroger, Britton Parkway Giant Eagle, Hilliard Rome Road Giant Eagle, Perimeter Loop Giant Eagle, Whole Foods in Dublin, The Andersons, 3C Food Mart on Sawmill, Kroger on Henderson, Kenny Road Market, Northwest Wine and Spirits, and a number of other retailers in the area.

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