3.2AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
Duvel Belgian Golden Ale is one of the most revered beers on the planet and it seems like every American brewery has tried to emulate it. The problem is, American blonde ales don’t use the same yeast, so more often than not the result is something along the lines of Cooperstown Brewing’s Nine Man Ale. It’s a very light, clean-tasting, refreshing beer, but it has little character. It’s not offensive, but there’s nothing impressive about it, either.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz bottle into an English pint glass. This beer formed a gigantic layer of soapy suds not unlike Duvel. It took me quite a while to get it all into the glass, but once poured, the head seemed to vanish into thin air and left no lacing on the glass. Odd.
The color is rather dark for a blonde beer. It’s pure orange bordering on brown (perhaps burnt umber would be the best description). It’s also very hazy, as there seems to be some yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
The aroma is light, with slight fruit notes, a touch of spice, and maybe even some candy sweetness. If only the scent wasn’t so muted.
I hate beers that have palates with distinct flavors but are still bland - they’re very difficult to review and that’s exactly the case with Nine Man Ale. It’s typical of the American blonde style - a light, crisp, slightly fruity palate with a dry, powdery aftertaste. There’s also a noticeable buttered biscuit flavor - like malts on the verge of expiring.
Not that the taste is repulsive, though. I enjoy what the brew has to offer, but I wanted so much more. As it warms the palette seems to homogenize to a rather bland, buttery, pilsner-like taste. It’s easily tolerable, but why drink a beer just to tolerate it? I want something I genuinely enjoy.
I have to admit this beer is refreshing and the light body is probably something I’d prefer to the intense spiciness of a Belgian brew of a comparable style. It’s thicker than I expected, and much softer too. The carbonation dies down quickly, giving the beer a flat body. It goes down smooth and easily, but so does flat soda.
At 4.3% ABV, Nine Man Ale is an ideal summer beer and would pair nicely with food and social situations where it was used as a beverage than a component of the meal.
I was hoping Cooperstown Brewing’s Nine Man Ale would be able to do something with the American blonde ale style I haven’t encountered yet. Unfortunately, it was par for the course.