If you enjoy sampling a variety of beers you certainly know Southern Tier Brewing Company (STBC) and, more than likely, have an affinity for something in their enormous portfolio.
Based in Lakewood, New York, the company has a big presence throughout the state – upstate in particular – and is fairly common to spot on the East Coast with availability in more than 30 states. Their recent partnership with Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania in 2016 – a very complementary pairing of traditional and experimental – only strengthened their market position and improved their reach.
Founded in 2002 – an eternity ago in the craft beer world – with just a pilsner, a mild ale and an IPA, STBC has built its reputation on pushing the envelope with innovative beers. From imperial dessert beers like “Pumpking” and “Creme Brule,” to Double IPAs and fruit beers, they do not shy away from experimentation or extreme flavors. And while such methods have inherent risks such as waste and consumer disconnect, this is an approach STBC has gained so much acclaim for. They now produce upwards of 100,000 barrels of beer a year, and even send some to international destinations.
I have been a fan of Southern Tier for almost as long as I have been drinking beer in New York. The retired “Oak Aged Unearthly Imperial IPA” is still one of the best to ever be produced within that rare category of aged IPAs (a style typically best drunk fresh). They still create many excellent IPA iterations including a now unfiltered version of their famous “2XIPA,” but one of their new beers has really stayed on my radar lately: “Nu Skool” IPA. Brewed with Mosaic, Simcoe, Equinox, and the experimental #07270, this hop bill produces one gem of a beer with floral, tropical fruit character, and resinous pine. The body is even a little hazy, yet tastefully so, in a nod to the current New England IPA trend.
Brewing up a huge selection of seasonal, core, and one-off brews is not the right business model for every brewery, but it definitely works for Southern Tier, and usually in the best of ways. If IPAs aren’t your thing, Southern Tier is one brewery that kicks out enough standout beers, in enough different styles, that with just a little exploration you will undoubtedly discover a beer you can settle into. Perhaps, your sweet tooth is calling for a “Choklat,” or you want an exceptionally crisp Helles lager like “Krampus.” No matter your palate’s preference, STBC will get you there.
This week’s recommendation: Southern Tier Brewing Company “Nu Skool” India Pale Ale, a slightly hazy IPA with notes of tropical citrus and resinous pine. 6% ABV. Lakewood, NY
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and the Hop and Goblet in South Utica, New York.