There are often situations where someone sets expectations of themselves so high that it's virtually impossible for them to ever live up to them again. It brings to mind Al Bundy from the 90's show Married With Children. Al had an amazing high school football career, so amazing that it was the highlight of his life and dominated his thoughts; nothing he could do was ever the equivalent, which was funny for us as viewers, but actually really sad. This is sort of the feeling I have with Southern Tier and many of their pale ales, including this week's review - Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale.
I sent out a tweet the other day after trying Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale that sums it up...Southern Tier's Blackwater Series of beers is so impressive to me that virtually everything else I taste of their's pales in comparison. Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale is an American pale ale that is honestly quite good and very drinkable. Where it falls short for me is that its not that different from many of their other pale ale offerings. Southern Tier does an excellent job of making very well-balanced IPAs, and as mentioned, the Choklat and Creme Brûlée stouts highlight the delicious Blackwater Series. I just don't taste much difference between the pale ales, including their IPA, 2X IPA, and now Phin & Matt's. Its tough for me to write this because I really enjoy Southern Tier and, since I'm not a huge hop-head, enjoy the balance they provide in their pale ales. For a beer drinker who wants a big hop bite though, I haven't had one from Southern Tier that provided one except for their Unearthly Imperial IPA.
I can put it best like this...if, like me, you enjoy a nice, balanced beer that you can sit and drink a few of, Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale will fit that bill, but then again as I've said, so will many of their pale ales. If you want your hops to burn the taste buds off your tongue? Then you might want to move on to something else like the Unearthly. I checked Beeradvocate and Ratebeer.com after drinking and they're very close to where I would rate this beer with scores of 82 and 74 respectively. So, like Al Bundy scoring four touchdowns in one game for Polk High, Southern Tier has, thus far, belittled all their other beers to me with their Blackwater Series.
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