I sometimes get the feeling that Southern Tier is a bit of an odd craft brewery in beer geek circles. It doesn’t seem like most of the geeky types are at all interested in their regular offerings, but most of their special releases–like say, Mokah or Pumpking–have quite a lot of fans. And yet, they don’t really seem to command respect from all of us, nor are their offerings typically the first to come up in “best of” discussions, with the notable exception of “pumpkin ales.”
I can’t say that I know exactly why this is, but I can say that in my own assessment of their beer lineup, it always seemed like they were making brews for two separate audiences–year-rounders for the casual and newly converted craft beer fans, and out-there stuff for the extreme beer geeks. Few breweries had such a dearth of middle ground.
That was what made Southern Tier’s 2X IPA interesting when they started making it a couple years ago (I’m not sure when it first started showing up). This was a beer that was definitely in the middle, and to be honest I thought it was great. The market needs more beer that straddles a line and that sounds kind of silly, like “value” imperial IPA or “session” DIPAs. That’s what 2X IPA really is, and it’s a tasty beer to boot. And so, when I happened to see “2X Stout” on the store shelves a while back, I thought it might be a similarly good value brew. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite as pleased by it.
Southern Tier 2X Stout
NOTES: 12 oz bottle, poured into a tulip glass
ABV: 7.5%, Milk/Sweet stout
APPEARANCE: It looks like a stout, albeit a pretty flat one. Very little head, not a lot of outward signs of carbonation.
AROMA: A whiff of light roastiness, and not as much sweetness as I expected from a mid-gravity milk stout. Overall subdued.
TASTE: Fairly sweet but not overly so, with mild to moderate roast flavors to back it up. I realize that this sounds like a really boring description, but it’s a pretty subdued brew. One of the less assertive stouts I’ve had in recent memory.
MOUTHFEEL: Lighter than one would expect. Even though 7.5% is at the minimum end of something that would be labeled “2X,” this is still very light.
DRINKABILITY: On the flip side, I guess the drinkability would be higher than one would expect for the alcohol content. The booze certainly doesn’t show up at all in this beer.
OVERALL: A little boring–I find it hard to imagine how this brew would excite many people. It’s missing some x-factor that would help set it apart. There are no bad or off-flavors by any means, but it’s the kind of brew that I already know I’m going to forget about while I’m drinking it. Quite inoffensive, and something I would give another chance, but not my favorite for now. I give it 2.5 hops.