West of the Catskills Mountains, south of Lake Ontario, and just north of the Pennsylvania border is a region of New York State collectively known as the “Southern Tier.” Towards the western fringe of this region is the town of Lakewood, home to the Southern Tier Brewing Co.
With equipment procured in 2002, the company began growing its base locally quickly garnering favor and praise. Seven years later unable to keep up with demand a large facility was added to increase production while also allowing enough capacity to expand its market outside of the immediate locale. Further expansions continued at the home facility in Lakewood until 2016 when Southern Tier entered into a partnership with Victory Brewing Co. and broke ground on a satellite brewery in Pittsburgh. Continuing on that theme a second satellite brewery was opened just a few months ago in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
Today’s beer, Thick Mint, is an imperial stout brewed to 10 percent alcohol by volume with mint and chocolate additions. Thick Mint is part of the Blackwater Series that includes such beers as Crème Brulee, Choklat and Salted Caramel.
The pour reveals a dark black in the glass with an inch of light tan foam forming the cap. From the appearance, there is a lot of carbonation present, which is somewhat unusual to see in a thick, heavy and dark dessert beer. The aroma comes through heavy on the chocolate at first but quickly revealing a distinct peppermint note. Not surprisingly, Thick Mint smells like a York peppermint patty with a slight hint of alcohol; more sweet liquor than beer.
The taste is bitter dark chocolate with a booming over-arching mint flavor on top. Some espresso and caramel dark roasted malts break through on the finish. If you have had any of Southern Tier’s dessert beers before then you know how overly sweet they can be. Well, this one has been dialed back and is more balanced towards the bitter end of the spectrum. The mouthfeel is thick and slightly syrupy but not overly so and is kept in check by the higher carbonation level.