Shipyard Brewer's Choice 2007

Also From This Brewery

Change is always a good thing, and Shipyard has finally decided to change its special edition “Brewer’s Choice Special Ale” for 2007. The 2005 and 2006 editions, both especially robust brown ales, were nonetheless pretty much the same thing: brown ales. Shipyard claims that the Brewer’s Choice recipe will be different each year; something allows the brewer a bit of artistic freedom if you will.

I like that idea, and there is precedent for it. Perhaps the most famous example is Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale, the annual Christmas release from Fritz Maytag’s pioneering San Francisco brewery. Although batches may be similar from year to year, they are never quite the same. Here in Georgia, the now-defunct Dogwood Brewing Company (just saying those words still brings tears to my eyes) used to offer its fans a stylistically different treat with their wonderful Winter Ale.

But back to Shipyard. With a large brewing operation in Portland, Maine, Shipyard did indeed introduce a new beer as its Brewer’s Choice in early 2007: a honey porter, to be exact. Originally, it was announced that 10,000 cases would be produced, but if that was a one-off, then an additional amount must have been brewed. My samples, bought in September were very fresh, with glistening dust free glass bottles.

Shipyard cites the use of chocolate, crystal, and black malts for their porter. A dash of orange blossom honey provides sweetness and a touch of extra alcoholic strength (6.25% by volume). Tettnang and Warrior hops are used, too.

Shipyard Brewer’s Choice 2007 Honey Porter pours to a dark, but not entirely opaque, black color with a thick and creamy tan head and a buttery sweet malt nose that hints at banana and a trace of honey. Some of that sweet malt peaks through when you initially sip, and that sweetness intensifies before it’s balanced by a grassy hop bitterness in the finish.

Dark chocolaty notes, bittersweet and roasty, come through nicely, along with buttery Ringwood yeast flavors, rum soaked raisins, some of the banana the nose promised, and a subtle kiss of honey. The body is thick and luxuriant with a rich and silky mouthfeel.

A very complex and delicious porter. The obvious comparison would be to the newly-revived Samuel Adams Honey Porter , but Ringwood yeast makes this a different animal entirely. The honey imparts a richness and complexity to the brew as well as a hint of flavor, although most of it does ferment out. Still, the 2007 edition of Brewer’s Choice is worth checking out-but hurry. It’ll be 2008 before you know it.

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Review date: October 12, 2007

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