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Beer Review #198 Shipyard Applehead

I’ve surprisingly only reviewed on Shipyard Brewing Company beer on this site thus far, but I have had about a dozen or so of their beers. Heck, I’ve even taken a tour of their brewery in Portland, Maine. It scares me sometimes to think about the number of beers that I have had that I haven’t had a chance to review or drank before I started this site. One day I will get back to Shipyard and properly review their other offerings.  I was a bit surprised when I saw an apple based beer on the shelves. Shipyard makes a pumpkin beer named Pumpkinhead, so I guess this beer is the counterpart to their fall seasonal.

Applehead pours an apple juice color (shocker). The thin head quickly fizzles out and leaves a clear liquid below. The nose is strong on apple (again shocker) but there is more than just apple. I found some toasted odors along with an ale smell. This beer had esters! There was also some good cinnamon in the background which I half expect with anything apple based.

On the first taste I was again shocked (/sarcasm) by the strong apple flavors. There is some interesting toasted notes about halfway through which added some decent complexity and a change from apple. Cinnamon finishes the beer nicely as there was not hop flavor. I don’t think that hops would work in an apple beer as the flavors just don’t compliment each other. This beer comes in at 4.5% and is very light and watery in the mouth. I’m not a fruit beer fan and I did hesitate on buying this beer, but I’m glad I tried it. As far as fruit beers go this is one of the better ones I’ve had (I’m on a streak). There is some nice balance and the apple flavor isn’t overwhelming/the only flavor. While it’s not a beer that I would pick up often, I am open to purchasing this beer again. (more…)

Beer Review #171 Prelude Special Ale

My then girlfriend (now wife) and I visited the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine a few years ago during a road trip through the northeast. I remember being surprised at how small the building seemed to be for the amount of beer they produce. I generally like their beers but there are a few that have been disappointing me recently (namely their pumpkin beer).

Prelude Special Ale is Shipyard’s winter beer and one of their better beers. The beer pours a nice caramel color with a slightly off-white head. The nose is full of caramel and toffee. There is some slight biscuit sweetness in there as well, but no hops of any kind.

On the first taste the caramel makes an appearance right away. It isn’t an overwhelming caramel flavor, but provides a solid malt base. A nice biscuit flavor then mixes in along with some slight toffee. Hops make their appearance on the backside of this beer and they linger on your tongue for awhile. They are not overly bitter but they do add a nice punch of flavor. This beer also drys out very nicely.

I really liked this beer. This beer is classified as a Winter Warmer but that particular category is pretty open in terms of flavor and alcohol. Prelude Special Ale seems to fit more into the English style of Winter Warm according to my taste buds. I found it very drinkable and it really fits nicely with the winter season. I would be happy to try this beer again. (more…)

Beer Review #130 Peak Organic IPA

In my last review of a Peak Organic Brewing Company I mentioned that I had plenty of their beers to still review for the site. Today’s review is one of those reviews. Peak Organic Brewing Company of Portland, Maine knows how to brew in order to deliver a fresh, crisp hop flavors and aromas. I figured that an IPA from this brewery was a no-brainer.

Peak’s IPA pours a nice orange color and it is crystal clear. There is a very fluffy head to go with the orange liquid but I think I was a bit aggressive with the pour, so there is a lot more head than there should be. The nose on this beer is exactly what I expect from Peak. There are tons of bight citrus hops that smell very fresh and clean. There is a slight malt note as well, but the shinning star in this beer is the hops.

After taking a sip I again received what I expected. The hops are very bright and carry though the full flavor of the beer. While the hops are strong, they are well balanced with the malt. The hops are mostly grapefruit in flavor but there are some slight pine notes mixed in there as well. I really liked how clean this beer was. The hops come in, stay for a bit, and then leave. They don’t sit on the tongue for a long time, but finish a second or two after you swallow.

I really enjoyed this one. Peak is quickly becoming one of my go-to breweries. Each of their beers are crisp and fresh. Their IPA is no exception. When I think of an IPA, this beer is one of the examples that comes to mind. It is hoppy but balanced and at 7.2% is a sneaky SOB. I highly recommend this beer for anyone who enjoys a well balanced IPA. (more…)

Beer Review #124 Summer Session Ale

I have been on quite the Peak Organic Brewing Company kick lately. I’ve never heard of them until this year (even though I spent a number of days in Portland, Maine a few years ago), but since that time I have purchased a number of their beers. In each case, I have found their beers to be very crisp and fresh tasting. When I saw their Summer Session Ale on the shelves last weekend I just had to try it.

Like the yellow label suggest, Summer Session Ale pours a nice golden color with a fluffy white head. It is also perfectly clear which allows you to watch the bubbles dance up the middle of the glass. The nose isn’t super complex and is marked with their signature crisp hop aroma. These hops were strongly citrus and the malt or other flavoring kicked in some lemon odors as well. Overall it smelled very nice and straightforward.

Summer Session Ale is classified Pale Ale with some wheat malt mixed into the grain bill. On the first taste I was expecting something that tasted along the lines of a hoppy pale ale, but with a more complex malt character. What I got was a beer that didn’t have a major malt component. The crisp, fresh hoppy finish really dominates this beer. The hops are strongly citrus but I didn’t get any of the lemon flavor that was promised in the nose. There was some slight bread flavor in there but nothing to write home about.

Overall I liked this beer but didn’t find it very “summery.” Adding citrus flavors to a beer doesn’t make it a summer beer. However, Peak succeeded in making a very crisp and refreshing pale ale that I would be happy to drink during any period of the year. This beer is only 5% ABV so it does fit nicely into the session area. Try it out if you are looking for a different type of summer beer that is away from your typical wheat beer. (more…)

Beer Review #118 Espresso Amber Ale

When I reviewed Pipeline Porter a few weeks ago I talked about how much I liked a coffee flavor/odor in beer while I don’t actually drink coffee as a normal drink. I first had Espresso Amber Ale when I was visiting Max’s Taphouse in Fell’s Point, which is a “hip” area in Baltimore. My wife actually ordered it and loved it. I saw this beer at my local beer store not soon after our trip to Max’s Taphouse and bought a four pack of it. This beer comes from Peak Organic Brewing Company of Portland, Maine. I’ve reviewed several other of their beers and enjoyed them all. This, however, is my first non-seasonal brew of theirs.

This amber ale pours a nice amber color and is perfectly clear. It has a thin, off-white head to accompany the liquid. The nose is super roasty coffee. I didn’t get any malt or hops, just coffee. Like the Pipeline Porter, this coffee is very fresh and smells fantastic.

On the first taste I got a very slight sweetness on the front, but coffee dominates everything else. I really dig this beer. As a homebrewer I am still scratching my head on how they were able to get such a strong coffee flavor without giving it a dark color. This beer isn’t heavy either, like a coffee stout would be. It fits into the medium mouthfeel neighborhood and is something super unique. One other note with this beer, it is made with locally roasted fair trade coffee and comes in at 6.8% ABV. If you see this beer try it out, it is something totally different in a beer market that does not have a lot of standout unique ideas. (more…)