Maybe a great beer should be judged not by any amount of ingredients in it or the complexity of its flavors but by simply how much it makes you take notice. This is a concept I'm pondering as I explore more beers. Meanwhile, I just enjoyed another of Shaun's Craft Beer Club brews, the Connecticut-based Cottrell Brewing Old Yankee Ale. A quick search of the web reveals that this beer was rated highly at Beer Advocate, which made me excited to try it.
This is an outstanding beer that indeed captures your attention. Observing it and smelling it presents nothing special at all. It's a plain ol' amber with admittedly an impressive head that offers hope for something unusual. The nose disappoints; it's nearly dead, pretty devoid of much but the faint smell of caramel malts. Big deal, right? Well, the first sip is at least promising. Strong carbonation and acid present themselves and awaken your mid-palate. The flavors gradually kick in and stay on the palate until this baby's finished. It has a mild barley flavor that reminds me of personal fave, Brooklyn Lager.
Further sips reveal soap and astringent, which would normally sound like detractors and signs that this beer might be skunked but actually demonstrate a distinctive structure to this beer's finish that, unbelievably, balance out nicely with the rather understated malts that would otherwise bore you to death. You arrive at a pleasant and embracing place with this beer, as if you walked into your favorite port town tavern awaiting a bowl of your favorite chowder, and Pete the shrimper's usual tale about some bar wench that slapped him senseless for his usual lack of candor. The flavor here captures all of that, slap included.
All in all, this is a robust ale with a sessionable alcohol level (5%), a fresh, unique flavor, strong versatility, and abundant personality. I could be talking about the latest indie rock band; but I instead present to you, proudly, Old Yankee Ale.
4.2 of 5 stars.