Big Sky's Powder Hound was a favorite last year and is already in the running to repeat the success in 2011. This is a great winter ale, one that tastes like the season should taste while actually feeling just different enough from last year's batch to also bring some surprises.
This pours an amber-like color with a golden hue and a good finger worth of head. It looks inviting, and looks appropriately winter-y. Sniff, and I'm fairly certain it comes across a bit hoppier than last year's batch.
In fact, tasting it confirms that the hops are more at the forefront, though that's not to say Powder Hound is a hop-bomb. Here they gently lace the tongue, and a nice deep flavor of caramel flanks them. The mouthfeel is somewhere around medium, which matches the flavor profile nicely.
Really, Powder Hound is what a winter ale should be. It is not too complex, yet not too simple, just a good, down to earth, honest ale with crisp hops and soothing malts. In other words, it's pretty damn good.
Winter season is off to a good start. Deschutes and Big Sky might go head to head over who has the best seasonal, leaving us as the true winners. That I can live with.