Thursday, June 18, 2009

Long Trail Ale

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - MAR 17, 2010
In paying homage to their home state, the Long Trail brewery’s flagship beer, known simply as “Ale” is basically Vermont in a bottle. It’s a sweet beer with real character and appeal. It’s quirky enough to be unique, but still pedestrian at its core (and yes, that is intended to be a compliment).


This beer pours extremely smooth to a bright copper/dark amber color which is crystal clear with plenty of carbonation noticeable. It generates an average-sized, white, foamy head which leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is very malty and sweet with hints of caramel. However, I did notice a bit of a generic grainy scent.


Although the bottle’s label highlights the fact this is an “altbier” (a niche German style), the taste would indicate something more American. This beer is the original American amber ale – a style which has become quite popular among micros and macros alike over the last few years.

Made with four different malts (two-row, wheat, crystal and chocolate) and three different hops (“Northern Brewer,” Williamette and Mt. Hood) this beer definitely has a complex palate. The mouthfeel is thick, sticky and sweet with a hint of maple syrup and yet there’s a distinctive crispness to it as well. I found it to be reminiscent of an American-style brown ale with a sweet taste of caramel and chocolate. The only caveat is it the flavor’s backend which is dry and bitter, and these notes become more prominent the more you drink.


While the flavor may have been just a bit dry, Long Trail Ale is still a very drinker-friendly beer. The taste is flavorful, but not overwhelming. And with a soft mouthfeel and smooth finish I’d say anyone could drink this easily.


I’m actually surprised this beer is as light in body as it is considering the complexity to its palate. At only 4.6% ABV, Long Trail Ale is a borderline light brew or a summer seasonal (although it’s neither). It’s unlikely anyone would find this beer too heavy to appreciate.


Considering what Long Trail Ale is able to accomplish – genuine taste and high drinkability – this beer, technically, has the makings of something better than it actually is. Of course, I don’t think it’s intended to “hang with the big boys” that beer connoisseurs like me would consider top notch, so in essence it’s pretty much all it can be. I probably would’ve preferred a more consistent palate without the dry, bitter end, but all-in-all it’s certainly a good beer by most standards.

Grade: 7/10

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