Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau
May 31, 2011
I first reviewed this beer about a year ago and came up with some surprisingly similar thoughts for both reviews, particularly in the mouthfeel department, but I won’t give that away just yet. Anyhow, since there wasn’t much of a fight (or any fight for that matter) put up to obtain this beer, let’s just roll right into it:
Brewery Location: Lakewood, New York
Style: American Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.13
My Beer Advocate Rating: B/3.6
Current Number of Reviews/Rank in the Top 20 on Beer Advocate: 959/16th
Brewery Description: Unearthly Imperial IPA
Bottled On: NA
APPEARANCE: (4.5 out of 5) Wow, the head on this thing is huge. After pouring the Unearthly Imperial IPA into a 20oz. glass a big, fluffy, white, full-inch-thick head rested on top of a hazy, orange-yellow beer. The fluffiness of the head, did not lead to as quick a dissipation as I expected and a few streams of tiny bubbles flowed up from the bottom of the glass giving it a vibrant look. The lacing followed suit with the head and was very clingy, getting good coverage particularly on the back side of the glass.
SMELL: (4.5 out of 5) The Unearthly smells exactly like a Double IPA should. The aroma is straight up, floral hops. Piney, dry and crisp smelling, the only other aromas that sneak into the nose are some light citrus hints, particularly grapefruit and orange. This is an outstanding smelling beer.
TASTE: (3.5 out of 5) The first sip is much sweeter than I expected after the taking a sniff of it. Honey (which was nowhere to be found in the nose) and orange dominate up front before balancing out with a bitterer grapefruit flavor at the back end. Pine provides a backbone to this Southern Tier offering, running from start to finish while there is a surprising lack of floral notes throughout. The smell and the taste are almost like two different beers, but overall, it is tasty despite being a bit too sugary.
MOUTHFEEL: (2 out of 5) Not exactly my cup of tea in the mouthfeel department. This one is not just oily and mouthcoating, but it crosses the line into syrupy. The big, lively head did not translate into a well carbonated beer at all, which was a major disappointment.
OVERALL: (3.5 out of 5) The Unearthly Imperial IPA started out with a bang. As I dove deeper into this beer, however, it lost momentum quickly. The look and smell were absolutely outstanding, but then the flavor was just a little above average for a double IPA and the mouthfeel was unimpressive. If this beer tasted like it smelled and felt like it looked it would be one of the best beers in the world.
DRAWBACKS: The mouthfeel all but killed this one for me, which is an odd thing to say, but making a big, rich and syrupy beer and then selling it in 22oz. bottles isn’t the best idea in my opinion. It would make for an excellent splitter, but to sit down and throw down the whole thing is a bit intense. To be fair, the recommended serving temperature from Southern Tier is 42 degrees and I tend to like mine a tad warmer. I probably hit somewhere near 55 and that certainly could have made a big difference in the feel, but I don’t think the flavor would have been there at that temperature, so it’s a tough call. Next time I will chill it and see what happens.
DISTRIBUTION: Southern Tier's distribution includes the following 28 states and Washington D.C.: AL, AK, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NY, NC (Sometime Soon), OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, WA, WI.