While I’ve been a proud resident of the Boston area for over a decade now (outside of a brief stint in CT), I was born and raised in Maine. I received my undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College. During my time in Brunswick I developed my passion for chemistry (my “real career”), rugby and started my journey towards an appreciation of craft beer. While most college students’ favorite beer was whatever they could get cheap, I started to branch out and explore some of the local and national microbrews that were available in the area. Like many people Sam Adams and Harpoon were a major part of my early craft beer education, but I also loved the local staples like Geary’s, Gritty’s and Shipyard. Before the explosion of American craft beer these breweries all made a solid rotation of British style ales. At that time Shipyard Brewery in Portland was known for their flagship Export Ale, as well as their solid English IPA and robust Blue Fin Stout. It wasn’t long before Shipyard became known for a new beer, their most successful seasonal release, Pumpkinhead. It is amazing how wide-spread Pumpkinhead is in September and October – you can find it on draft in almost every bar in Boston. It is kind of unfortunate in my mind, I feel like that one beer overshadows everything else Shipyard brews. Recently Shipyard has been trying to adapt to the changing tastes of American beer drinkers, releasing a number of new beers. One of these new releases is their American Pale Ale, a year round release brewed with seven varieties of American Hops. This was originally brewed in the UK in collaboration with Marston’s Beer Company, but it was so well received that they brought the recipe back to the US.
Shipyard American Pale Ale pours a slightly amber orange, crystal clear, with a substantial off-white head. The smell is surprisingly neutral, just a touch of earthy hops. The hops come through stronger in the flavor, some pine and forest floor flavor and just a touch of citrus. The malt backbone is noticeable, some whole grain bread with just a hint of caramel. The beer is drinkable, just a little bitter, and sessionable at 4.5% ABV. The finish leaves a pleasant lingering bitterness on the tongue. This is a fine beer, but I really would have liked to see more of the pungent citrus/tropical fruit flavors and aromas that define many American hop varieties. Hoppy Boston score: 3.5/5.