Southern Tier Cuvee Series 1, 2 & 3
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking forward to drinking these beers. I first saw Cuvee Series 1 and Cuvee Series 2 on my local beers stores’ shelves almost 2 years ago. With the idea of having a horizontal tasting of them, I’ve been holding onto them for two years waiting for Cuvee Series 3 to grace our shelves. Then, a couple weeks ago I happened to see a random tweet about Southern Tier’s Cuvee series 3 would be available in an extremely limited quantity in Georgia. I immediately emailed my local guy and said when are we getting them in NJ. He told me, “We’re not”. But, he also said let me see what I can do. What ever magic he worked I had 6 bottles for myself and a couple other #brewyork’ers 2 weeks later.
Which leads me to tonight’s tasting, I’m finally over being sick and well rested. Finally, I’m going to get to do my horizontal tasting of the Southern Tier Cuvee Series. Each of the three beers is an 11% abv Ale that has been aged with different types of oak.
Cuvee Series One:
The first of the three beers has been aged on French Oak. One of the things I love about some ales is how well they age and continue to improve in flavor even as the beer oxidizes. This bottle I has been in my basement for over 2 years now and is fairly oxidized. How do I know this? There is a lovely sherry flavor that underlines each sip. It has a great aroma of almond liqueur and honey. It is pretty strong so you don’t have to go digging your nose into the glass to smell it. The flavor was slightly less forth coming as as the aroma, but was extremely pleasant. A great mix of sherry, honey, malt and coconut. I’m not sure if I’m glad I wanted this long to drink this or it is a shame I waited this long. I really enjoyed my glass!
Cuvee Series Two:
The second beer in the series was aged on American Oak. The first thing you notice is how much darker this beer is then the first. IT smells and taste completely different, well, it actually is a different base beer then Cuvee 1. The aroma of toasted oak and a burn of alcohol, overwhelmed my nostrils. Once I got past the palette shock of how different the beers were, I really started to enjoy the Cuvee Two. While a lot “hotter” then the Cuvee One, the flavors were rich, Oaky, Creamy, touch of coffee bitterness, and caramel. While probably oxidized as much as the Cuvee One, the sherry flavor took a back seat and was only a underlying presence in this beer. What I don’t find in this beer, which I though I would because of the American Oak, is Vanilla.
So, at this point If I had to make a choice, I prefer the Cuvee One over the Cuvee Two. Cuvee Two is not bad, in fact I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not have Cuvee One right before. I think the bitterness from the base beer detracts just a bit from the overall marriage of the beer and oak.
I better move on to Cuvee Series Three before I loose the ability to type…
Cuvee Series Three:
Finally the one I’ve been waiting so patiently for, Cuvee Series 3, this is a blend of Cuvee Series 1 and Cuvee Series 2. I take my first sip and “Wow, really this is a blend of one and two?” I said outloud, to myself. I find this to be unlike either of two previous beers. It has a citrus sweet honey aroma. The aroma is really nice, but I’m shocked that it could possibly come from the same tanks as 1 and 2. This reminds me a lot of the Oaked Un-earthy…
At this point I stopped writing my opinion on Cuvee 3. I can’t really compare, I reached out to Southern Tier to get an email address to find out why Cuvee 3 is nothing like 1 & 2, I never got any response. So, I’ve decide to not write anything further on Cuvee 3. However, These are my thoughts on the Cuvee 3 doesn’t remotely come close as to what I would have expected as a blend of the two beers I just drank. First, it was probably created from a much newer blend of 1 and 2. The Other reasons why I think this is a significantly newer blend of the two is the hop forward aroma /flavor and bottle cap. At some point Southern Tier redesigned their bottles caps, the Cuvee Series 1 & 2 are the old design and the Cuvee Series 3 has the new design. So without roughly the same amount of age on the Cuvee 3 I’d be comparing apples and oranges.