Southern Star Brewing Co. “Pine Belt Pale Ale”

June 18, 2013

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to talk about a beer from Southern Star Brewing Company. Now that they’re being distributed in Florida again, it affords us all the opportunity to re-discover an old friend.

We have to go back a ways to the last one of their beers I had the chance to review. The fifteenth column I ever wrote was for their Bombshell Blonde that quickly became a fan favorite Downtown. And, yes, I keep a log of every review I’ve written. This old man needs help remembering whether or not I’ve repeated an article.

Not only is the Bombshell back on our shelves, but we’ve brought along their amazing Pine Belt Pale Ale to keep the Blonde company. As an added bonus, this one is packaged in a 16-ounce size. I for one am glad to see more and more breweries going for the 16-ounce format. After all, that is the proper dosage for a pint.

Founded in 2007 by former Saint Arnold’s head brewer, Dave Fougeron, and put into production in 08, Southern Star rolled out with the Pine Belt Pale Ale as their flagship beer. Southern Star was also the first craft brewery in Texas to use cans as their sole means of beer packaging. They’ve since adopted 750 ml bottles for specialty releases, but the aluminum rules the roost in their brewery.

Pine Belt takes its name from the vast forested area of Texas bordering Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. This land accounts for nearly all of Texas’ lumber industry. Why, you might ask, name a beer after forest land?

The massive pine presence from the hops is the answer. Southern Star uses some very alpha-acid-heavy hops for Pine Belt: Horizon for straight alpha; Galena for its wonderful dual-purpose combination of alpha in the boil and beta acid in the fermenter to build aroma; and then there’s CTZ, a pellet mixture of Columbus, Tomahawk and Zeus hops that is responsible for Pine Belt’s more complex flavors of citrus, herbs, wood and spice.

Pine Belt is a lovely off-orange color with a head so frothy you’ll want to turn it into a pillow. After that, everything about this beer is a study in balance. Big citrus and herbs are all over the nose of this one with some bread dough and caramel malt scents. Its flavors are a combination as huge as the state it’s from; orange, grapefruit, pine, earth, sweet malt, caramel and flowers. Bitterness is low considering the hops used.

Thanks for coming back, Southern Star. Keep making them like this and we’ll never let you leave again.