28 May 2012

Dodgy bottomry

I caught a bit of stick for dissing Shipyard's Pumpkinhead beer last month. The apologists thought it unfair of me to be casting aspersions on a beer that had been a whole 7 months in the bottle and therefore past its best. Though I noted several comments suggesting that its best is far from good anyway.

Two more from Shipyard of Maine today, and both of these were well within date, bearing best-befores of March next year. What follows cannot reasonably be blamed on the ravages of Old Father Time.

First up is Shipyard Export. The Americans are normally straight up-front with style designations, cringe-makingly so sometimes, but I'm fairly sure this isn't lager in the Dortmund style. It's more like a pale ale and is 5.1% ABV, and nothing wrong with that per se.

The first alarm bell is in the aroma: it's an off appley smell, bringing the apple notes I found in the pumpkin beer right back to me. The flavour is heavy and cheap-tasting brown sugar and could really use some livening up with a decent malt profile, or some hops, or even pumpkin spices. Overall it's a dull beer: too sweet with almost no redeeming features.

Shipyard IPA to the rescue! Hopefully...

This is a much more attractive dark amber colour, with a gorgeous thick ice-cream-float head. The signature hop is apparently Fuggles, which wouldn't be my immediate choice for an American IPA, but let's see what they did with it.

Not much, it seems. The beer had almost no hop character to speak of. No aroma at all, and just a vaguely green tang in the foretaste, but it's more melted plastic than fresh hops. The main flavour is stale and oxidised and there's yet more of that brown sugar.

I really have to wonder what the reasoning behind these recipes is, or who they're brewed for. Corner cutting, poor brewing skills, or just different tastes? I don't know.

I do know that it was very tough getting to the bottom of both these glasses and I'm not minded to go chasing more from Shipyard.


  1. Missed the diplomatic incident last month. What a palaver!

    Your description of the IPA above evokes strong memories of the kinds of barely-drinkable 'artisanal' beers you sometimes find in France and Spain.

  2. Whosisbrew5:45 pm

    Spot on with what I've come to expect from Shipyard. I'm not sure if it's a result of not coaxing enough flavor and depth out of the ingredients, whether on purpose or not being skilled enough to do so, but either way they're a cut below.

  3. Anonymous8:53 pm

    how do you really feel about Shipyard?

    1. Disappointed that they've yet to match the excellent pale ale they brewed in Burton a couple of years ago and which was in lots of Marston's pubs. That stuff was gorgeous.

  4. I think the IPA is in my fridge at home but the Export was rubbish, or at least incredibly dull. When you find yourself wanting to swap for a macro beer, you know they are doing something wrong.