Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York. Last October, I fell in love with this beer. It's not that often that I am doing a new review where I am absolutely certain I'm going to have an awesome experience! This is one of those cases. Or is it?
Let's talk about the label in three panels. The artwork panel depicts a cow standing in the forefront while two bulls check her out from behind. Rotate clockwise 40 degrees and you'll learn this is a Black Water Series beer, A Stout With Great Contention, as well as a full ingredient list. A 42 degree F recommended serving temperature is also mentioned there (whatever, that didn't happen). One more 40 degree turn to read the final panel, where Southern Tier's story about this beer is told. Big 22 has a smudged bottling date. I am pretty certain it starts with DOB 07/?/11 with the year a definite and the month a huge probability since Total Wine put their sticker on 7/20/2011.
OK. First, the aroma will make you not ever want to drink this beer! That's right, I said it. It is that luxuriously deliciously awesome, to the point of just wanting to smell it all day and night long. Pure butterscotch and sweet baked goods, like the entire bakery in a glass.
Sweet butterscotch and toffee flavors are prominent from the start but the 9.6% alcohol wastes no time introducing itself. The lightly boozy alcohol takes a lot of the sweet edge off (while adding an edge of its own). Plenty of vanilla, bordering on just a little too much, but it fits so well into this beer that I am just ignoring my own intuition.
Smooth buttery texture, roasted exotic coffee, malty, milky, creamy. You getting all this? Not overly sweet at all. The flavors linger long after each sip, and so does the alcohol warmth left in the chest. I can't think of another beer that has an aroma quite as spectacular as this one. Combine that with the flavors and you can just skip dessert. From memory, this one seems a little more alcoholic and a little less sweet than last year's version. Either way, I'm on board, and if you can find this beer, you should buy some!