Wednesday, December 19, 2012

550. Free Sail Brewing At Last! American Pale Ale

This is probably one of the weirder beers I’ve reviewed in a while. Not because of the beer itself, mind you, but because of its provenance. You see, it was given to me by a student whose father brewed it for him for his 21st birthday. Which—apart from the context we are discussing here—is pretty damn cool. However, it is not every day that you get beer from one of your students, former or not, although it is not without precedence. Still, I do have to admit I was excited to try it—the last couple of beers passed my way by this student were pretty damn tasty. So without further ado...

At Last! pours a slightly hazy copper caramel that carries a fair amount of orange; the head is off-white but not quite tan, and starts with a half-inch of body before falling to a thin covering that never quite fully dissipates. The nose is orange, pine, and resin on the hop side, and grainy/husky caramel with a touch of Belgian candy on the malt side. There is also some earthiness and grassiness and a hint of corn once the initial burst of aroma recedes. Flavors open with toast and orange marmalade, giving way to caramel and hop bitterness in the middle. In the finish, there is a bracing and clean bitterness that lingers pleasantly and carries hints of pine and evergreen as well as the orange found across the beer’s profile. The carbonation is bright but restrained—it cleanses the palate rather than biting—and allows the bitterness to roll across the tongue and on into the finish. As well, the creamy, chewy malt character gives the beer body and helps support the hop bitterness. A touch of corn from the nose survives in the middle, but nothing drastic. The beer does look a bit darker than it tastes—I expected a bit more caramel from the color, and thus was pleasantly surprised by the brighter malt and hop balance this beer achieves. Kudos to Will’s dad (blame Will—he never told me your name, although my mad google skills did produce this) for a well-made beer, and kudos to Will for hitting that 21st milestone: you are now free to enjoy all that South Park Tavern, Trolleystop, and Lucky’s has to offer! Just don’t forget about that education!

From the bottle: “Adventurously Hoppy, Invariably Smooth.”

ABV: 6.75%


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