Saturday, August 4, 2012

Geary's Hampshire Special Ale

Type: English Strong Ale
Origin: Portland, ME
Price: $9/6-pack (craft beer club)
ABV: 7.0% 
NSP: 16.57

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There seems to be a strong Maine trend in the craft beer club.  Two offerings from Sebago (winter warmer and IPA), two from Casco Bay (red and brown ales), and now two from Geary's (the second review will appear at some point).  If the offerings from Sebago and Casco Bay are at all representative of the beer in Maine, they like their shit malty up there.  And this one definitely slots right into that trend.

I'm noticing a pattern in my beer drinking- the more a beer looks like iced tea, the less likely it is that I'll enjoy it.  Pale, yellow, golden, anything like that and I'll probably be cool with it.  Cola-colored or dark as midnight?  No problem.  But right down the middle is not my bag.  And this one's an iced-tea-lookin' MFer.  Malt is numero uno in the smell, and dos, and tres, and pretty much all the other numeros too because no hay mucho else there.  But at the same time, it doesn't smell overwhelmingly malty- it's not really all up in your face with it.  And it's not musty, so that's good.  As the beer warms, the nose takes on a bit of root-beerishness, which is an unexpected nice touch.

But as I expected, it's not something that I was ever going to really like.  It's really malty, and while there's a fairly potent hop presence, it takes the form of flat bitterness and not much flavor.  The body can't help but be pretty heavy with all that malt, but of course that's just characteristic of the style.  The booze is definitely noticeable, and I don't think that's a bad thing. It reminds you that you're not just drinking an ESB or a red ale- it's a strong ale, so it should and does taste strong.

Again, this isn't really anything I'd ever buy because it's just not my thing.  At the same time, I feel like this is a pretty good expression of the style.  It avoids all of the pitfalls that can ruin this type of beer (namely the musty/cardboardy malt thing).  It's something that would fit right in on the tap line at your local pub, and nobody would scoff at you if you put a few pints of it down your gullet.

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