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Beer Tasting: Southern Tier Grand Arbor

I must be on a farmhouse kick lately, because this review is of Southern Tier’s Grand Arbor Saison/Farmhouse Ale.  When I first saw the bottle I wasn’t really sure what brewery made this beer.  The label is a departure of sorts from Southern Tier’s other labels.  And that’s not to say that this label is not enjoyable; the artwork is quite nice.  Upon closer inspection one sees the Southern Tier logo/insignia complete with paddle, hops, and chalice.  I recall hearing what each of these mean at the brewery’s tour… but can’t seem to recall all the details.  Imagine that?

Southern Tier is a true craft beer brewery.  I try to make the ~90 minute drive from Buffalo every year at least once.  The problem is finding someone who wants to (a) go with me, and (b) wants to drive home.  I’ve always been impressed with Southern Tier’s offerings, and in fact demanded one of the beers at my wedding be the now renamed PMX beer (formerly Phin and Matt’s).  I completely love going to visit the brewery on a summer day and engaging in a few drinks at the Empty Pint and hanging outside and listening to music.  Ah- the things we dream of in the dead of winter.  I’m sure at some point you will see more Southern Tier beers on my reviews, so I’ll hold off on a few stories until then.

Here is the beer I had today:

Grand Arbor: Southern Tier, Lakewood, NY
ABV: 8.0%
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Grand Arbor beer pours a nice effervescent straw to pale yellow and immediately forms a frothy head.  The head does dissipate into lacing after a half minute.  The smell is Belgian (bready) in nature, with hints of pepper and fruits.  Interestingly, Southern Tier uses an addition of maple syrup for Grand Arbor from across the street from the brewery.  I recall once in a Grand Cru that I made I added sugar crystals, and I had expected that beer to be sugary in taste.  But alas, the yeast do their job and eat up all the sugar.  The result is that the finished product does not surprisingly taste sugary, but certainly does amp up the alcohol concentration a bit.  Grand Arbor, like most Southern Tier beers I have tasted, is deceivingly delicious while maintaining an above average alcohol content.  The beer does have a dry and tart finish, which they correctly state on the back of their label.

This beer is not as “farmy” as some other beers I have reviewed, but definitely worth a taste, for a straight-forward, potentially gateway farmhouse ale.  Another job well done Southern Tier!

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