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McNeill's Champ Ale - McNeill's Brewery

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

44 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 44
Hads: 60
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 13.5%
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: 60
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid drinkable pale. Enough C hops to give off a citrus smell, great big creamy long-lasting head. Well malted, good with lunch. Citrus taste and aftertaste dominated. Not too bitter so was popular.Good amount of hops. Middling mouthfeel. Well done.

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Photo of oberon
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass a hazed light copper color with a thinner white head atop a few chunks and floaties swirling when I got to the bottom of the bottle,nice subtle aromas some floral/citric hop along with biscuit malt a nice even mix.It sorta reminds me of an old school craft American pale ale it has a healthy dose of citrusy,resiny hop but a firm slightly caramel malt base hold up through to the finish.A solid pale its food friendly and has enough subtle complexity to keep me wanting more.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours light creamy and bubbly head. A hazy pale almost glowing wheat orange color.

N: Nose is quite nice and complex. It has some creamy malts, and a decent pale malt aroma. Hints of fruit and... grape?... and a nice hop aroma, with some grassy, chewy, and fruity hops.

T: Starts with a malty bite, some nice dark toasty malts, a really nice malt flavor actually. It then comes through with some light pale bitterness and some light grassy and spicy hop flavors. Those hop flavors are then followed with some fruity and juicy hops. More earthy malt flavors mingle. A slight citrus orange peel flavor comes through a little on the end, but isn't too bad yet.

M: Somewhat light body with good carbonation.

F: FInishes with a nice light pale bitterness that builds a bit, then adds more of the spicy hop quality and can be somewhat dry. Then it gets a somewhat unpleasant bitterness, like biting on an orange peel as that orange peel citrus flavor goes way over the top. Overall it's a nice pale ale, with some nice hop flavors, lighter fare, great malt flavors, and refreshing. The only real issue is that strong orange peel bitterness.

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Photo of Billolick
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$3.99 for the bomber @ the Brattleboro, VT. Food Coop.

"Best before last day of" dating on bottom of the label, nice info for the consumer.

Pours cloudy typical amber, looser off white head that stays then goes to to a frothy foam/film and better then decent lacing.

Gritty & citric, moderatly pungent hop nose.

Respectable APA, moderate cascade infused hop package, flowing over a nice malty base. Fairly balanced, but enough hops for respectability.

Decent every day APA, perhaps a bit thin mouthfeel wise and lacks the depth of flavors to challange the all stars of the style.

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Photo of jdhilt
2.78/5  rDev -23.4%
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.

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Photo of akorsak
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
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.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.4/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.01/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle in a trade with Vermonthiker. Thanks Tom!

My first sample from McNeill's:

It pours a hazy orange gold with a 1 finger head of foam. There's some good lacing here and the head retention is very good.

The smell is light but nice. I'm getting some fruity notes along with some caramel sweetness and some citric bitterness.

The taste is definitely fruity. I can taste some pear, some lemon, maybe some orange, a bit of malty sweetness in the background, and it finishes quite bitter and with a slight sourness. This has a real grapefruity kick at the end and like I said, it's very bitter....but nice.

It has a medium mouthfeel that's on the lower end of medium, and it's on the medium side with the carbonation. Most unusual tasting American Pale Ale because of the flavours here and because it's only 5.5%abv, it makes for a pretty darned good sessionable Ale. I see the sticker on the bottle says $3.99 for the bomber..that's an oustanding price for a very pleasurable APA indeed! Well done McNeill's and thanks again Tom!

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours copper gold with a light chill haze under a sudsy cream colored foam collar that quickly dissipates but hugs the glass all the way down.
S: Yeasty, spicy hops, malt sweetness. T: Balance leans towards the malt with caramel, light fruits seasoned with hop citrus and spice.
F: Creamy medium body and carbonation.
O: A good, easy to drink American pale Ale.

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Photo of Brad007
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pale/light amber color with a two finger head that recedes. Aroma is nice and malty upfront with a decent hop bitterness to it. I can smell a faint hint of mint as well. Hmm. Taste starts out biscuity and malty and then fades into a mild hop bitterness that isn't too dry on the tongue.

A second sip confirms many of the things I suspected in what appears to be a well-balanced version of the American Pale Ale style. Very nice beer.

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Photo of Durge
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This nice APA was a hazy orange color with a thick white head that retained well. It had a citrus aroma, and an outdoorsy scent. Grapefruit taste, not much in the way of malt. A crisp beer, a little too carbonated for me, but would still drink it again.

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Photo of koopa
4.27/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy watered down iced tea color (mild copper brown) with a 2 finger white crown that displays moderate retention and some lace.

Smell: English yeast, butter, toffee, slight fruity note, light hop presence.

Taste: Same as the nose but not as colorful. Might not be the freshest bottle so I'd like to revisit this one again.

Mouthfeel: Light side of medium bodied with ample crisp carbonation and a moderately soft crown.

Drinkability: Extremely drinkable.

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Photo of Todd
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of marc77
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
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!

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Photo of albern
3.67/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber purchased at North end Market in Brattleboro, VT.

AP: Golden hued amber, very active(good to see) nice 1" tall, foamy head, good retention, Nice legs too!

Nose: Ultra sweet hops, fruity and mildly citrusy.

Taste: A tasty, tart and slightly fruity hop taste dominates. A mild malt flavor appears then finishes with a nice leafy-hopped bite.

Mf: Medium body, feels rather thick but displayes plenty of bubbles and has a big fresh bite. The constant foamy head gives it a nice added smooth feel.

DA: Mmmm...

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Photo of Hibernator
3.98/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

McNeill's Champ Ale
22 oz brown bottle
Best before April notched on the side label
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

* Purchased at the Co-op in Brattleboro, VT *

Pours a light, hazy brown color with a thick head on top. Random trails of sticky lace leave patterns on the glass.

Light and fruiy nose. Hints of apples and hops.

Clean and grainy mouthfeel with a really nice hop finish. The hop presence gives way to flavors of fresh peach and Macintosh apples. The hop finish also leaves a nice bittering effect. Extremely smooth and creamy.

Yet another great beer from McNeill's brewery. Nothing over the top here, rather a straightforward and consistent session based APA.

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Photo of deereless
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
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

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Photo of erosier
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a golden orange color with a small and almost non-existent head white head that leaves little lacing down the glass.
S: Smells of sweet malts, nice floral and some citrisy hops as well.
T: Tastes like the nose - very nice sweet malty base, and then a big citrisy/floral hop flavor at the end.
M: Smooth, refreshing, but it seemed a bit raw. Nice flavors though.
D: Pretty drinkable, I enjoyed this one alot.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was up in Brattleboro, Vermont the other afternoon and stopped in at McNeil's for a pint. They had this on tap but I didn't get a chance to try it. I had opted for their Ruby Ale. Before I left town though I stopped in at the Brattleboro Co-Op, which is a great place to buy beer, and picked up this bottle for only $2.99. What a great deal for some fresh, locally brewed beer!

Champ Ale's label has a picture of a jester along with "Champ" who is the creature akin to the Loch Ness Monster who is supposed to lurk in Lake Champlain.

Pours a deep, golden color with a few inches of thick bubbly white head. Its got a hazy, almost "soft" appearance.

Smells a bit citrusy, a bit sour and a bit like lemonade. There is also a sort of strange yeasty smell to it.

The taste is sort of sour at first, as soon as it hits the tongue. I was worried for a second that it might have been off. However, it appears that it is just a citrus flavor from the hops. As it warms I begin to pick up some fruit flavors and an almost Belgian saison spiciness to this beer. Lots of flavor packed into what brewery owner, Ray McNeill, simply referred to as a "pale ale" when I asked about this at the bar.

Great stuff at a fantastic price!

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Photo of mvanaskie13
2.44/5  rDev -32.8%
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.

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