16 September 2009

KOTBR #85 - Chocolate and Coffee on the Southern Tier of Indianapolis

Southern Tier Brewing Company got its start in Lakewood, New York, in 2004 and now distributes to approximately 17 states. They produce eight beers for year-round distribution--IPA, Phin and Matt's (Pale Ale), Porter, Chautauqua Brew (only available in Chautauqua County, NY), Unearthly Imperial IPA, Hoppe Imperial Extra Pale Ale, and Big Red Imperial Red Ale--and a multitude of seasonal and limited release beers, including this roundtable of Jah-va, Mokah, and Choklat from their Blackwater Series Imperial Stouts.

You won't find Southern Tier on the shelves in central Indiana at this very moment but we hear that a couple beers will be available at Kahn's soon. You can also pick up some at select locations in Northern and Southern Indiana (we've seen it in Keg Liquors in Clarksville, and Rich O's in New Albany had the Cherry Saison on tap recently).

Each of these three beers weigh in at 11% ABV and are brewed with similar ingredients. The Jah-va is brewed with Jamaican roasted coffee and a combination of Cascade and Columbus hops. The Choklat is brewed with bittersweet Belgian chocolate and a mix of Chinook and Willamette hops. The Mokah is a mix of the Jamaican coffee, Belgian chocolate, and one hop variety from Choklat and Jah-va (Columbus and Chinook).

Southern Tier Choklat - A dry baking chocolate nose, a deep and dark black body, a nice creamy head... a beer named Choklat should have these elements, and Southern Tier fails to disappoint. A body with chocolate milk like creaminess, bitter chocolate on the middle of the tongue, and a complete lack of hop presence rounds the beer out. Although the beer weighs in at 11% ABV, the finish is just mildly warm. The flavor lingers a bit too long afterwards, though. 3.79 Mugs

Southern Tier Choklat: KOTBR Score: 4.01 Mugs | Mike 3.79 Mugs | Chris 3.9 Mugs | Gina 4.35 Mugs

In the realm of the coffee bean world, I am a novice. I would really like to know more, but neither my wallet nor my liver would be able to keep up, I feel. I am willing to concede to my curiosity by drinking beer with coffee in it, though.

When I found out that Southern Tier's Jah-va is brewed with Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, I couldn't wait to try it. I remembered a friend of mine told me several years ago that she tried this coffee and she loved it, but at $48/lb., she just couldn't justify drinking it a lot. This little exchange stuck in my memory because at that time I thought that price was completely ridiculous and I wanted to try it immediately.

I have yet to try the coffee, but I'm happy to report that I've conquered the Southern Tier Jah-va. It's no surprise that all three of these stouts poured similar in color, and with nearly the same ingredients, it's not surprising that they would have a very similar flavor profile as well. While I enjoyed this beer because it didn't pack the initial alcohol punch that the Choklat did, I was disappointed in the lack of coffee flavor that came through. 3.75 Mugs

Southern Tier Jah-va: KOTBR Score: 3.74 Mugs |Mike 3.5 Mugs | Chris 3.7 Mugs | Gina 3.75 Mugs

Southern Tier Mokah - Wait, did we just pour some more Jah-va? This tastes almost exactly the same--roasty, chocolaty, barely a hint of coffee. The only difference is this one is a little hotter than the rest, which is odd since they're all 11%. At this point, we noted that the bottles advertise the grain and hops bill and all three have remarkably similar malt bases. Well, now we're understanding why they all taste about the same. Since both Mokah and Choklat are brewed with bittersweet Belgian chocolate, if the coffee isn't popping in the Mokah (and it wasn't), there's not much differentiating these beers. But since I'm not a fan of the extra heat on this one, I'll knock 0.1 off my Choklat score and give Mokah 3.8 mugs.

Southern Tier Mokah: KOTBR Score: 3.81 Mugs |Mike 3.55 Mugs | Chris 3.8 Mugs | Gina 4.1 Mugs

1 comment:

  1. Southern Tier beers are and have been on the shelves in Fort Wayne if you live or are in the area.