From upstate New York comes the Southern Tier 2XIPA; their Double IPA. Southern Tier was one of the breweries whose beers showed me that real flavor can exist in beer. Their line of Imperial Stouts, the Blackwater Series, has an astonishing range of flavors from Creme Brulee to Chocolate. But most impressively is that their core lineup of beers fit the styles so perfectly with magnificent flavors and character.
Southern Tier’s Standard IPA has been available at the LCBO for several years now, and as such has been one of my go-to IPAs. This though is their Double IPA, the 2XIPA. It is up to 8.2% abv from 6.5, has richer and more soothing flavors, but is not aggressively more bitter. Its a masterful combination of sweet juicy malts and wide round fresh hop bitterness. The beer shows great earthy character and a smooth gentle mouthfeel. Everything about it is right, from the bite to the quench – it all works.
Normally a Double IPA would show big rich malty flavors and I would pour it close to the cellar temperature range, but I had a feeling that Southern Tier’s version would still be a fresh IPA at heart. I knew it would be richer than the standard IPA, but I did not expect thick creamy caramel malts. I was envisioning crisply sweet pale malts and a wide zest of fresh hops. Thus, I poured the 355ml bottle cool around 8C (45) into a Southern Tier Tulip.
Almost as expected, the pour was smooth and golden raising an amber yellow beer with bright copper, rich orange and bronze shimmering from all angles. Into the light, beams of straw colored sun peered though showing a transparent beer with a deep range of color, and I expected, flavor as well. The head build up a pure white 1 and a bit inches above the beer with a steady grasp on the glass. Very impressive sight.
The nose was fresh and clean with the classic zest and earth flavors that got me hooked on the Southern Tier IPA in the first place. This time a big rush of grapefruit peel, lemons, fresh herbs, grass, fields and earth fill your nose and entice a very aromatic sense of fresh hops onto my palate. It was a mouthwatering smell, with hints of sweet pale malts showing brown sugar and candy.
A big splash of the 2XIPA on your palate is a quenching and delicious sensation. Right away I knew that supreme balance and sheer freshness is the key to the beer. The clean and crisp wave of hops ride over your tongue and initially bring an earthy bitter clean flavor with grapefruit and lemon grass. As the beer eases across your cheeks more fresh hop flavors evolve into pine, herbs, and hay fields. Like the nose, the hop flavors are very clean and very refreshing.
Sweet but mellow pale malts come in close after and show light sweetness in the way of fresh fruits and vanilla. Touches of brown sugar create a note of pears, apples, more citrus and light candy. I don’t want to say that the malt flavor is light, because its very apparent, but it is bright, and very ripe. It is not thick or heavy on your palate. It whirls around your cheeks easily and opens up the freshness of the hops. Excellent work here.
The game changing player here is the hops though, but without the balancing malt the hops would fail. Everything comes together is a soothingly fresh, and very quenching beer. I enjoyed it on its own, and it left me with a lip smacking, juicy sensation of fresh and masterful India Pale Ale. I’m not sure how it is 8.2% abv, because it feels so magnificently light and elegant everywhere totally masking any hint of alcohol.
This beer is a dream with a huge variety of foods. Starting with appetizers, everything from bruschetta, grilled shrimp, and onion rings to garlic bread are going to be perfect. With your main, the 2XIPA will match and quench roast beef, turkey, pesto based pastas, cheesy dishes, and anything with a hist of spice with absolute ease. Even with dessert, cheesecakes and deep chocolate will be succulent with this earth-quenching IPA. First though, enjoy it alone.