As promised in my sampler post, here is review one of eight.
Pale ale refers to beer that is brewed with more pale malt than not. The term came into being during the 1700s, when many malts were dried using coke (the coal byproduct, not the high fructose corn syrup mess). Pale ale is a blanket term for many sub-styles, including popular variations like Amber and Indian Pale Ale (IPA).
If you’re used to traditional, American pale ale, Smuttynose Shoals will punch you in the face, knock your teeth out, and steal your wallet.
I should qualify (having tried five varieties from the New Hampshire brewer to date): these guys don’t mess around with hops. They’ll hop and then hop and then just when you think there are too many hops…they’ll hop some more.
Remember that Dr. Suess book, Hop on Pop? It’s like that, but it’ll get you drunk.
This isn’t your typical Bass or Sierra Nevada. It’s must closer to an English Bitter than an Amber, and closer to an IPA than you might expect from its name. It’s fierce and aggressive, leaving a nice bitter aftertaste in your mouth and plenty of bubbles on the glass. Don’t bother drinking this from the bottle; half of the flavor comes from the smell, which can only be unleashed in a nice pint glass.
If you don’t like bitter, don’t even bother opening the bottle.
If you do, you’ll be very, very pleased.
It pours a beautiful translucent, ruddy orange. The head is generous, but not overwhelming. It smells fresh and flowery, suggesting it was dry-hopped. While there is a slight sweetness to the first taste, the full body is more like a good loaf of sourdough. It’s not smooth, but the bite works with the complexity of the flavor. There is very little alcohol taste or lacing, as it is hidden behind the aforementioned copious dose of hops.
It’s not refreshing, but it is tasty. I wouldn’t recommend it as a lawn-mowing beer, but it would definitely pair well with a fish or chicken dish, especially one with lots of fresh greens and veggies. It would also make for a delicious beer batter, if you could find the heart to cook with it instead of drinking it.
Overall, 8.5/10, but if I had reviewed it as the weather was getting colder, not warmer, I’d probably give it a 9/10.
Next up: Heavy Seas Gold Ale!