Sunday, April 1, 2012

McNeill's Firehouse Amber Ale

Brewing commercially since 1992, founder Ray McNeill offers a variety of hidden gems not typically found in Burlington - the brewery is located in the southern town of Brattleboro, VT. In 2008, McNeill's opened a packaging facility and now offers ten different bottled beers plus seasonals. I got a chance to try my first beer from the brewery by stopping by The Farmhouse, a fairly new establishment in Burlington offering quite a variety of local beers on tap as well as classic versions of worldly styles.

Alcohol Content: 5.5%
IBU: ?
Malts: ?
Hops: ?

Price: $3.00/ 8oz sample glass; $5.50/ pint @ The Farmhouse
Medium: Served in an 8oz water/ juice glass

Aroma: Like most American amber ales, it opens up a light citrusy or grapefruity character reminiscent of American hops. Layers of light caramel notes combine to balance the hop aromas very evenly. I catch some grassy notes, probably from dry-hopping rates. Nothing too malty or hop forward - also unclear as to which specialty grains were used as nothing stands out or differentiates itself from other amber ales.
Appearance: Frothy off-white head pour with great retention and lots of lacing as I take each sip. Presents an amber color with both reds and browns shining through. Slight haze suggests dry-hopping. No bubbles or other signs of strong carbonation.
Flavor: Lightly sweet pale malts with caramel hints start the experience and hold up to the hop bitterness into the finish. Even some residual sweetness in the presence of hop flavors continue into the aftertaste. However, the hop bitterness is still slightly favored along with profound citrus and grassy notes (but not overwhelming). Some lingering dryness.
Mouthfeel: Medium body and fairly balanced character makes this a good option for a variety of palates. Served at a great temperature for easily identifying the beer's strengths. Some alcohol warmth as well. Yeast character is fairly neutral - slightly spicy/ almost bready notes into the finish could be from grains. Moderate carbonation.
Overall Impression: Should be noted that the longer wait time between sips offers a progressively dryer or hoppier aftertaste. Thanks to Kristine for showing me The Farmhouse - I went back the next day to sample four different VT craft beers on tap and will be sure to visit frequently :)

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