I first came across Southern Star Brewery not too long after they opened in 2008. I was drawn to the Bombshell Blonde can, and the beer was good. Then I was at Antidote in the Heights, and I started off with a Bombshell Blonde before I realized that they had this other 16 oz can of something called Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale. I was hooked. This beer is good.
Southern Star is only about an hour north of my house, so I get to support local and drink good beer at the same time. I thought it was only local, but a beer aficionado friend from South Carolina came to visit, and I was excited to get him to try this wonderful beer. His response: "Oh yeah, it's popular in Greenville [South Carolina] right now." Drats. But I guess things that are good deserve to be appreciated.
First, let's talk about color. It's caramel. It's rich caramel. It's no stout, but it has color, definitely. And the nose is unexpected. Hoppy and bitter smelling with hints of...what...pine?
That's what gets me every time. It even tastes like pine. Not like Pine Sol, no, but like a forest of pine trees. The hops are amazing, for this is a strong American pale ale, but it's that other flavor, that spiciness that reminds me of East Texas that gets to me.
Do they put pine in it? Is my nose right in what I smell? I asked my friend about it, and he agreed that there is a scent of something almost Christmas-like in it, but it's not like it's a Christmas ale. It doesn't taste like Christmas at all. But the Pine Belt Pale Ale is named appropriately. With some spicy, piney citrus, it epitomizes the East Texas Piney Woods.
Thanks, Southern Star, for a great pale ale. The world needs more American ones.