Welcome to the first of 24 posts about the beers from the Craft Beer Advent Calendar. This year I am excited because it’s an “all-star” edition. This means I’ll be trying some of the best beers from the previous advent calendars. While it means I might get some repeats, I hope they are the ones I really enjoyed. I’m always happy to have a beer I’ve liked more than once.
The first beer today comes to us from Portland, Maine. It’s is described by the brewery as an American Blonde Ale brewed by Shipyard Brewing.
The brewery is in Portland, Maine which is just north of Massachusetts. I’ve visited here numerous times and there are a number of excellent craft breweries in the vicinity and in the city itself. While Shipyard produces many interesting beers, Export is the beer that got them started. It is their flagship beer and the one to which they attribute their success. While I likely would have preferred to try something from their barrel aged series, I am looking forward to trying the beer that got them started.
Shipyard first began in 1992 at Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in Kennebunk. After being open for only two years they couldn’t keep up with the demand for their beer. In April 1994, businessman Fred Forsley and brewer Alan Pugsley opened the Shipyard Brewing Company in the heart of the waterfront in Portland, Maine on the site of the former Crosby Laughlin Foundry.
To say that Shipyard is a small microbrewery would be a lie. Shipyard is the largest brewer in Maine (owning the Shipyard, Sea Dog Brewing Company, and Casco Bay Brewing Company banners, and bottling under contract with Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Company). Shipyard is the fourth largest microbrewery in New England after Boston Beer Company, Harpoon Brewery, and Magic Hat Brewing Company. In fact, in 2008, Shipyard Brewing Company brewed 81,641 barrels of ale and shipped 2,900 barrels of soda. Its products are available in 40 states. What I do like is that they make every effort to source their ingredients from local farmers. When local industry can support local industry to be successful, that’s good to see.
Brewed in a more British fashion for a blonde ale, this beer brings a bit of a darker colour than one might find in a typical American blonde ale. The style, in and of itself, is typically viewed as being an entry-level craft beer. It brings a soft malty sweetness combined with some possible biscuit notes. This along with the low-medium hop presence means that it is an overall tame and easy drinking beer.
Onto the beer.
Appearance – Pours golden blonde with a thin ½” white head that retains well.
Smell – Sweet aroma, hints of floral and noble hops, and an odd metallic note.
Taste – Sweet malt, subtle caramel, grassy and metallic notes. Not sure where metallic is coming from, but the malt and grassy hop notes are good.
Mouth feel – Good carbonation, not too overbearing, medium body with a semi-sweet finish.
Overall – A bit more malt forward then most blonde ales I’ve had. This likely due to the fact that this calendar has beers Bea consumed fresh that have been sitting for upwards of 6 months. Overall easy drinking with a semi-sweet finish and a bit more malt character then I would like.
Do I like it? – I think this was a decent beer. It was a safe start to the calendar and I would have preferred a bit more of a bang to begin with.