The palate to Sweetwater Motor Boat Ale is everything I would expect in
an American Pale Ale, but since it’s an ESB (extra special bitter), it’s
not exactly what I want in the style. That’s not to say I’m all about
conforming to style, far from it, but there’s something to be said for
expectation. This beer is nothing like Wells Bombardier or Fuller’s ESB,
and is more akin to any standard American Pale Ale.
I received a 12oz bottle in a beer trade with Ding. I poured it into a nonic pint glass.
Appearance: Hazy brown/burgundy hue. Forms a large, beige, frothy head
which is slow to dissipate and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.
Smell: Light citrus notes, especially orange. A sweet candy scent and a hint of pine needles.
Taste: Sharp bitterness right away with a light sweet orange candy
flavor through the middle. The hops impart a significant bite and dry
astringency throughout the second half of the swig. The aftertaste is a
lingering bitterness but nothing intolerable. I’d definitely prefer a
stronger, more balanced malt character, but the by-the-book hop profile
is at least satisfying.
Drinkability: This is a perfectly medium-bodied beer all around. A
crispness to the body that’s not overly fizzy. It goes down smooth and
is actually quite refreshing while in the mouth, though it is rather
drying afterwards. Sweetwater Motor Boat Ale has a lot of flavor for
5.6% ABV and sits much lighter on my system than most beers of that
potency. Ideal for dinner, but too strong to session.