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Beer Reviews

Uber Sun

Southern Tier Brewing Company
Lakewood, NY
USA
http://www.southerntierbrewing.com

Style: American Wheat
ABV: 8.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)


Comments:
Pair With:
• Halibut
• Salads
• Salmon
I’ve reviewed my share of Southern Tier brews in the past six months, all of them from the Imperial line and most of them favorably. I’ve run the gamut in terms of commenting on the brewery, so I have nothing new to add as an introduction for the summer Imperial release, Über Sun. Therefore, this seems like the perfect time to pay a long overdue visit to the ol’ mailbag.

The first one comes from Cooter in Dalton, Georgia:

“Man, you sho do seem to hate that Eddie Glick. You guys related to the Hatfields and McCoys? An’ what kinda gay-ass name is Nigel anywho?”

Shucks no, Cooter, I don’t hate Eddie, though he did kill my granpappy. To drop myself to your level, I’d say our rivalry is more like good ol’ fashioned SEC football; I’m Alabama under Bear Bryant and he’s, uh … Vanderbilt. Nigel hates no one and Eddie takes his ass whuppins with good humor, although that good humor is starting to creep me out. As for the name thing … anyone south of the Mason-Dixon Line shouldn’t ever question names. Enjoy your Bud Light.

This next one is from Jacques in Marseille, France:

“Monsieur Nigel, I loves ze reviews for ze biére de gardes. Will zou be reviewing more beers from Francois? Also, vhat is zis references to ze ‘frogs?’”

Well Jacques, as far as the “frog” reference goes, look in the frickin’ mirror and let out a chortle. I could also use “cheese eating surrender monkeys” or any number of references to your country’s lack of personal hygiene, but I like to keep things sophisticated. As for reviewing more frog beers, I say it’s about as likely as France suing us Americans for using their name in foods that have no connection to the country (see: French fries, French toast, and French beer). Thanks for reading.

The last one is from Cedric in Chicago:

“Nigel, bro … what’s the best beer to kill a hangover on game day? I’m trying to overcome my image as an alleged alcoholic, so I need to be discreet.”

Well Cedric, it’s better to be an alleged alcoholic than an alleged running back, which you spent the past three years as. I’d suggest the finest of malt liquors, since they look good in a brown bag as you stand in the unemployment line. Thanks for reading, although I’m surprised you can actually read as a former Longhorn.

On to the review. Über Sun is a “summer wheat beer” (as opposed to the endangered winter wheat beer) that, like all of Southern Tier’s Imperial brews, checks in at a whopping 8 percent ABV. Two-row pale and wheat malt combines with Centennial hops to make for what I’m hoping is a light, refreshing brew that still packs a punch. Southern Tier loves hops almost as much as Nigel, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be something approaching the lofty precedent set by New Glarus’ Imperial Wiezen.

Über Sun pours a transparent golden brown, with a decent frothy head of about an inch or so that slowly dissipates, leaving a creamy lace throughout. Surprisingly there is virtually no hint of sedimentation or cloudiness, often a trademark of wheat brews.

The aroma is very, uh … wheaty. It’s not unusual for a brew to have an aroma of the predominant grain utilized, particularly when that grain is rye, but I’ve never had a beer that smelled like wheat as much as this one does. I can’t say I’ve ever been near freshly reaped wheat, but I’m assuming it smells similar to this. The graininess typical of Centennial hops adds to the grassy aroma of Über Sun; it’s a unique aroma to be sure, one that I can enjoy in small doses but don’t want to inhale all summer long. Secondary citrus tones are present as well, as is a touch of spice.

The flavor is good, but this is basically just your standard wheat beer with the ABV amped up in order to classify it as “imperial,” as well as a touch more in the hops department. An initial grassy flavor is enough to send both pothead and hophead into a tizzy. Huge grassy flavors of wheat and pale malt combine with good amounts of Centennial hops, making for an extremely earthy flavor that has me fearful a prairie is about to break out on my tongue. Centennial hops play well here … perhaps a bit too well in my opinion. As much as I love Centennial, I also like the hops to provide at least a minor counter to the malt, but in this case they are making out like a couple of drunken sorority girls. The only savior to this softcore grassy pornography is a nice, citrusy bite of orange zest, grapefruit, and lemon, as well as spicy notes of black pepper and clove. If you hit it just right, Über Sun comes across as an American IPA, but for the most part this is far too grainy to fall into that category. Medium bodied but light on the palate (the only exception being some spice and modest carbonation), Über Sun goes down relatively smooth and does a good job of hiding the 8 percent alcohol, but it does leave a noticeable aftertaste. This is no session brew, and personally I don’t find it as refreshing as it should be for a summer seasonal.

While it’s not up to the standards of Imperial Wiezen, Über Sun is still a very good beer. The three mug rating comes about because it doesn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations set by Southern Tier’s previous Imperial entries, as well as the fact that with the exception of the heavy amounts of Centennial hops and high alcohol content, this is just another summer wheat offering. Check it out should you find it at the local retailer, but be aware that this isn’t the ideal beach, boat, or picnic brew; it’s best saved for a rainy day.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 26, 2008.
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