McNeill's Champ Ale - McNeill's Brewery

Not Rated.
McNeill's Champ AleMcNeill's Champ Ale

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BA SCORE
84
good

44 Reviews
THE BROS
81
good

(Read More)
Reviews: 44
Hads: 59
rAvg: 3.7
pDev: 9.19%
Wants: 0
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
McNeill's Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-17-1998

Champ Ale is a West Coast style pale ale. Also somewhat citrusy, it has notes of concord grapes both in the flavor and the nose. Made from a blend of British and domestic malts, it has a light red or pale rose color and very high drinkability.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 44 | Hads: 59
Photo of mvanaskie13
2.44/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a fluted glass, color is pale copper, translucent, head is off white, very thick and dense, clings the glass well.

Smell is slightly off, bitternes is the there, but the sweet notes are not, hints of vinegar.

Taste starts out somewhat clean, light caramel sweet, but is caught up by some tartness, something is off, bitternes is there but not in a flavorful way.

Mouthfeel is balanced, the tartness is not lingering and the bitterness is the for a pale.

Overall, I don't like this as pale, it looks nice but does not followup; again an off beer from McNeill's, could be the freshness, could be the product and attention to quality, so far it has been 50/50. (673 characters)

Photo of BeerNinja007
2.69/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

22oz bomber was $3.69 at the Lebanon Co-op grocery. Label notched to indicate best before last day of February. No year is indicated, so this info is of minimal value. Served cold in a chilled pint glass.

A: A rigorous pour gives 1" of off-white foamy head on top of a mostly-clear pale golden-yellow brew. Minimal lace.

S: Light tasty aroma of honey, apricot, green grapes, hay, florals.

T: Much more hoppy and dry than I expected from the smell. Mostly dominated by a big note of bitter orange and lemon, then some yeastiness. Barely any malt at all, far too bitter with no backbone. Finish turns a bit tropical, bitter pineapple or mango.

M: Dry, thin, a bit fizzy. Acidic and unrefined.

D: It has a good hoppy bite but lacks any balance with malt or sweetness. Fizzy hop water. Plus there's a complete disconnect between the smell and the taste, which are nothing alike. I'm not too interested in finishing this, it is a chore to drink. Dumped the rest.

A perusal of other reviews shows my experience to be atypical. I previously speculated that McNeill's may have problems with consistency/ reproducibility and this seems like even more evidence. Drink at your own risk. :/ (1,185 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
2.78/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Explodes out of bottle for a five+ finger white head that fades slowly to a ring leaving some lace. Clear amber color. Strong carbonation and medium bodied. Grapefruit nose. Flavor is sour peach and grapefruit, lingering bitter aftertaste from the hops. $2.99 for a 22oz bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT. (315 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.25/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22ozer from Brattleboro Co-Op, Brattleboro, VT.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" eggshell head over a cloudy golden amber brew. Uneven head lasts reasonably, with great lacing. Slightly sweet aroma with citrus notes. Very earthy taste upfront (not so much in a good way), with expected hops character. Mouthfeel and drinkability were both affected by what I perceived as off flavors in the taste. Disappointing, since the appearance and nose were so promising. Will have to revisit and verify. (514 characters)

Photo of cracker
3.25/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 22oz bomber, best before date 11/?? (year is conspiciously missing). Pours a golden yellow hue with little to no head. Smells of biscuit and some sweet malt. Little hop aroma. Taste is very tangy and citrusy but not from bittering hops. Light carbonation. Somewhat strange sensation on the palate. Drinkable but not one of the better apa's I've had. Maybe past it's freshness date I admit. (396 characters)

Photo of madjr80
3.26/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I bought a 22 ounce bomber for 2.75, so it was not a bad deal. It is listed as an American pale ale, but it is not really true to the style. It has a funny yeasty/citrus tang to it. The color was a pale amber. The texture light with enough of carbonation; head retention is just about average(thin lace).A bit weaker on the hop than expected. Overall, not a bad decision, but a 22 ounce bomber is enough for me. (411 characters)

Photo of deereless
3.26/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Lots of frothy foam sticking to the side of the glass, quite opaque, a dirty gold color; 4.25, S: Heaps of citrus, noticeably grapefruit, I realize this is an APA, but I smell a dry crispness that I associate with a sour ale - 3.00, T: Some orange or grapefruit zest, solid hop bite, mild grainy sweetness, the sour on the nose creeps into the palate - 3.50, M: Medium bodied - 3.00, D: A decent beer, misses on a couple of marks in my opinion but I'd drink it again - 3.00 (476 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
3.33/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another gem from McNeil's. I have really been plowing through their lineup lately to say the least. I think this is the 6th or so I have had and I have one more left for tonight. Split with my brother in law over dinner, this one was consumed on 10/13/2009.
 
The pour was fairly nice I have to say. Nice golden amber in color with a good three inch head that quickly collapsed on itself and left behind only token amounts of lacing but kept a good bit of carbonation working up from the bottom of the glass throughout to make sure you kept yourself interested. Light aroma, hints of dry citrus notes, grapefruit maybe? A touch of light pineapple and a good bit of grain to balance it out. As I reach in to take a sip it just leaves me looking for a little bit more. It is nice and clean, crisp, dry and with a good hop kick right up front I would have just wanted a touch more to go on for me. Starts with a nice dose of grapefruit and light  orange flavor that quickly blends in with a bready taste and a nice touch of light grain. But then it just kind of all muddles and fades into one another and never really comes back to where it needs to be. Clean and dry finish and nothing really terribly heavy about it, but I was really just looking for that one more little punch to make this one excellent.
 
Overall a solid, seasonable and workable pale ale, but I just wanted a little bit more out of it. Would not turn it down but it needs a little work. Still good though.
  (1,485 characters)

Photo of puboflyons
3.4/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the 1 pint 6 fl. oz. bottle with the date clipped at February on the label without a year listed. Sampled on December 28, 2009. It pours a cloudy copper yellow with an overwhelming and long lasting puffy cream head. The aroma is strong on yeast, the sign of an unfiltered brew. There are some clean hops lingering around the background a bit. The mouthfeel tends to be thin to medium. A tart and sour taste that leaves an aftertaste that was unappealing to me. I guess I have a hard time giving it as high a rating as previous raters. (539 characters)

Photo of sponberg
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber, white head. For once the label was on fairly straight and almost entirely glued.

Nose of citric hop and toasty malt. Carries through in the flavor, with a bit of sweetness in the middle and a firm bitterness in the finish to go along with the grapefruity hop flavors. A decent brew in bottle, probably great on a hot day, but if they have it on cask at the brewery, try it - it's huge. (395 characters)

Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber purchased from the brewery with no freshness date. Seemed to have many bottles on hand, so I figured they must go through a lot of it. I can see how.

Should be considered an EPA. Very bland in color. Nice lacing. most likely due to its freshness?!?!?!?!

Peachy clean taste. For an EPA (which is what it is) has a fair amount of bitterness that accompanies it.

First McNeil’s beer I've "officially" reviewed. Craft yes, good yes, try again? Yes. Average at best. (478 characters)

Photo of Todd
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle. Another story on a label. This time a jester is juggling some beers and taming a dragon. Ah, the power of beer. No freshness date.

Appearance: Light amber with a hearty white head.

Smell: Slight malt, and a delicate perfuming of hop aroma.

Taste: Dry bitterness upfront, mellowing with a touch of malt sweetness and toasted grain.

Notes: A full flavoured brew with great balance. A very drinkable session style beer. (457 characters)

Photo of firkinhophead
3.59/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

$4.99 from the Casual Pint in Knoxville. Bottle conditioned.

Pours cloudy, golden with a thick, fluffy head that rises up over the rik and takes a while to settle down. Clumpy, sticky lace.

Aroma is a strong suit. Sharp, yeasty notes of cheddar, apple, lemon, and biscuit. Floral hops.

Steely wheaty malts, citrus pith, vinous dry fruitiness, mild lemon soapyness.

Thin, slick mouthfeel like a wheat beer. Dry and a tad chaulky. Soft on the palate from the bottle conditioning.

Easy drinking, dry and subtle. A great summer ale that would pair well with bread, cheese and fruit. Drinks like a Saison without the spiciness. Would be great on cask. Perhaps a bit simple, but quite satisfying. (695 characters)

Photo of albern
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a good APA, not brilliant but good. The tartness of the beer really shines through as it settles in. The beer pours a really cloudy, dirty water, no make that filthy water light brown, with particulates mostly at the bottom of the glass. There is a decent creamy, slightly fizzy head, with some lacing. The nose imparts more hops than you will find in the taste. The nose is very enticing and it hints at a really well balanced beer with a nice bready malt underbelly.

The taste is good but doesn't quite live up to what the nose was leading to. There is a nice slighlty floral hop, maybe a bit of drying leafy hop, with some thick malts underneath. There is some herbal texture to the malts. The defining feature is the lemony, tartness that comes through on top of the hops. There is a slight acerbic quality to the beer and a bit of mouth puckering with this one. The beer has some body, and dries up in the finish. The lemony tartness overly predominate this beer. It's good, but not brilliant. (1,008 characters)

Photo of 31Sam13
3.69/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I had to give some higher-than-newb marks because of my long affinity with this beer.
( Maybe a bad choice of words.) However, this stuff has been satisfying a small percentage of us in the Connecticut River Valley for many years. The taproom is rustic, inviting, friendly and the beer is underrated. Champ is one of my faves...perhaps it's the whole experience but I will never take this of of my Zombie Apocalypse List...Along with Spam and Zombie dust, if that gives you any perspective. Seriously good.... (511 characters)

Photo of WYVYRN527
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 22 ounce bottle.

A: Pours an amber/orange hue with a thick white head that is slow to settle. Lacing is decent, and carbonation is vigorous for the style.

S: Caramel and bready aromas up front, with piney, citrusy hop notes making up the better half. Some fruity aromas rise from beneath.

T: Very malt-forward up front. Caramel and honey, along with some fruity esters from yeast. Slight burnt grain notes lie in between. Hops come forward with citrus, grassy notes, and a slight medicinal bitterness on the finish.

Notes: Moderate in body with a very pleasant mouthfeel, and as the beer warms it becomes better. Rustic in flavor, combining the old world with the new. Flavor is there, but overall, the rest of the aspects are pretty basic. A good pale, although there are others that I would choose before it on a menu. (857 characters)

Photo of scootny
3.71/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lightly cloudy golden honey with a prodigious shaving cream sticky head. Retention is quite good and the glass is well decorated as I drink. Lots of yeast suspended but not much carbonation.

Smell has an orangey note with citrusy hops and a caramel malt base. A bit of yeasty bread.

Taste is sourdough bread malty with grapefruity sharp hops. A light spiciness and a return of sourness, this time gently tannic in nature. Finish is dry and firmly bitter. Lots of grapefruit skin and a light malt lingering in the mouth. Feel is finely carbonated in a lightly tingly way and somewhat crisp. Weight is moderate.

Quite quaffable. A nice one with dinner ( fish sticks, asparagus, garlic mashed, and lentil pilaf this evening ). Good for a ball game.

Thanks to The Rowan for this Vermont treat. (798 characters)

Photo of Hagbard
3.71/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep golden color with some reddish highlights. The beer is not transparent. A thin, soapy, white head forms. The aroma is subtle with a hoppy presence. Slightly fruity. Thankfully, there is more to the taste than their is to the aroma. The taste is very hoppy up front. Immediately a bitterness asserts itself with a florally background. The bitterness mellows a bit allowing some citrus juiciness to assert itself. This beer is seriously hoppy. Much more strongly hopped than most of the more mainstream, tamer IPAs. In fact, without knowing better, I would have assumed this was an IPA. I really like this beer as it has some really nice hop flavor, however it isn't something I would grab when looking for a nice mellow pale ale. If I'm looking for hops...bring it on! (787 characters)

Photo of cavedave
3.72/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly cloudy light amber, with a quick to leave off white head that places a bit of lace, and settles to a lively skim.

Smell is yeasty tart, bready like an English bitter, and some floral and lemony citrus hop in a nose that is lighter side of medium strength.

It tastes like a bitter also, but with a tart edge, some caramel, then that English hop fade out herbal bitter at the end, here with some lemony/citrusy bitter added. This is an APA? The simple flavors combine in a balanced and delicious way, esp as it nears room temp.

Nice mouthfeel, very low carb., full bodied for style, and a long fairly clean finish. To nitpick there is just a bit of the lemon taste buildup on palate.

Drinkability, rated against others in style, suffers. Ten better in this style easily spring to mind.

Impression: Another well made McNeill's beer that is good, esp. for price, and tasty, yet not a standout. (911 characters)

Photo of Goldorak
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Translucent and orangey golden, with only a ring of lace.

Smell: Clover honey and grapefruit hops. Good stuff.

Taste: Very well balanced. Sweet malt cascades into a light hop bitterness. Low carbonation makes this creamy smooth and very drinkable. APAs like this are rare in my neck of the woods, so I enjoy them when I have the chance. (354 characters)

Photo of jondeelee
3.77/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Champ Ale begins with a rich, malty nose, full of caramelized brown sugars, lychee nut, hints of chocolate malt and milk chocolate, and a good counter of rosewater hops.

On the tongue, the beer starts off slow, with a grape-like flavor mixed in with caramelized brown sugars, then moves to more light fruit esters, including apricot, orange, and berry. These lighter textures are soon joined by a good undercurrent of toasted grains, adding a biscuit/cereal base. Hops are very faint here, noticeable not so much because of their flavor (though they do nicely balance the sugars) but from the tingling they leave on the tongue and soft palate. The aftertaste is a mixture of nicely toasted grains and light pine notes from the hops, and lingers for quite a while. Mouthfeel is medium-light, and carbonation is medium to medium-heavy.

Overall, this is good fare, and some lovely citrus and fruit flavors play around on the tastebuds. (936 characters)

Photo of UnionMade
3.77/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours amber gold with a light white head. Aroma is american hoppy with a solid malt base. Light esteriness, mostly apple. Some citrus. Flavor is definitely hoppy. Light to medium body with plenty of hop backing. Herbal and spicy. sort of like SNPA, but with it's own character. Hells yeah. (289 characters)

Photo of akorsak
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 650 ml bomber from the Lebanon, NH Coop.

A: The APA is a pale amber color, like watered down iced tea. Translucent, the ale sits under a white head of nearly half a finger.

S: The nose is grainy, a toasted bisctui aroma that covers up any sign of hoppiness. Mild citrus wafts out after some searching.

T: Biscuity toffee flavors rule the day, a much maltier ale. Tea flavors run alongside the grains, a sweet body that covers up most of its hoppiness. What's there is citrusy and very faint. Not a malt-bomb, just one that is very focused on its own breadiness.

M: The breadiness of the APA is nice, a rich landscape of toffee and biscuit. A little more in the way of hops would really help though.

D: Another solid beer from McNeills. All the horror stories that I've hear are fading away as I sip my way through their line-up. (835 characters)

Photo of marc77
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Copper hue with a light haze. Well retained ivory white, lofty, dense head leaves lace. Mellow citrus of a ripe tangerine and pink grapefruit dominates the aroma. Secondary are light caramel malt notes and a pine sap tinge as well. Understated, yet enticing aromawise. In flavor, incipient is a lightly acidic, sweetened lemon twang. It is promptly complemented by stately, orange rind bitterness and vibrant orange zest notes. Bready pale malt hints surface as the beer warms, but there is meager outright malt character overall. Vitrually bereft of yeast presence, save a trace persistent tartness. Lightly bodied, perhaps overly so, with a passably dextrinous mouthfeel. Finishes with a brief surge of hop bitterness and lingering clementine hints, which whet the palate for more. In terms of hop flavor, this is perhaps the most purely sweet orange laden APA I've had, having little of the stylistically ubiquitous grapefruit or pine notes. Well balanced and soft overall. With a more pronounced malt backbone this would be excellent. Very tasty, nonetheless, and certainly better than OJ. Thanks to Mikeys01 for the bottle! (1,128 characters)

Photo of Durge
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the pub in Brattleboro this pale ale is a yellow-ish amber color with a thin white head but good cascading lace. The aroma is mild citrus hop with a bready, vaguely caramel idea. The taste buds pick up rye bread mixed in with the citrus bite, much like I noted in the cask ESB. There’s a nice grapefruit/lime taste that stays steady with a hempy, dusty, almost evergreen grain theme underneath it. The body is on the heavy side of light, with tasteful but delicate carbonation. Highly drinkable and a good choice for the beer lover at large. (554 characters)

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McNeill's Champ Ale from McNeill's Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 44 ratings.