This has been one of my favorite winter seasonals over the last few years, and 2012 is no different. Deschutes might have hit a good home run with Jubelale this year, but I personally prefer the Powder Hound.
It's not much different from last year, and that is a-OK. A deep amber color, with a finger worth of head is the first thing you will notice, quickly followed by the hoppy and sweet nose.
Tasting, the mouthfeel seems to be a bit fuller this time around. The caramel and hops nicely massage the tongue in tandem, with a very light spiciness making itself known toward the back. In other words, this tastes much like last year's batch, but there seems to be a little bit more to the body.
Powder Hound weighs in at 7.2% ABV, though there is little here in terms of booziness. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a session beer, but it's probably not going to send you under the table either. Flavor wise it lends itself very well to being a sipper.
So, Powder Hound leads the winter seasonal pack for me so far. We'll see if any other ales can surpass it. It's a hard job, but somebody has to test all of this.