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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 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 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 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 SaintPeter
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an explosion of head. Careful attention to detail is needed when poured as not to end up with a beer table cloth or a slick bartop. A tad over carbonated.

Pretty, fluffy off-white head. It jiggles like a fat person's belly when laughing. Silky look to it. Carbonation bubbles are flowing. Head shrinks at a medium rate and leaves an island of foam in the middle of the glass, if not disturbed. Amazing lacing, almost uniform macramé on the inside of the glass. One of the most impressive I have ever seen. The lace twinkles in the light like miniature diamonds. Wow! Hazy amber/copper color with streaks of red. Still a layer of foam hiding the beer under it's cap after a few minutes of recession with champagne-esque bubbles streaming from the bottom of the glass. Foam coats the glass fully all the way down to the last sip. Extremely impressive.

So much going on here: sour cherry, hibiscus, grape skins, sour apples, crushed pepper corns, antique furniture, Belgian yeastiness, vanilla, citrus fruits, tartness, hints of Flemish sour ale aged in oak.

Sourness initially, like a sour ale, morphing in the middle to hoppiness and then being balanced with malt. A lager perception for an instant. Finishes with green grape skin tartness and a lingering coat in the throat of warm alcohol, oatiness and hops. Resembles a sour ale mixed with a pale ale or English bitter. The mixture is rough, though.

Watery, light and soft mouthfeel. Not what I expected from the creamy head and bold fragrance. Average.

The acridness that shows it's face just as promptly disappears making it easy to drink. Could have a pint, but not more. Lots of varying flavors and amalgams: lager, ale, hops, citrus, sourness, woody, etc.

The aroma and appearance are world class, but the taste and feel of mouth are all over the place and unbalanced. With McNeill's it is a tad difficult to predict what you are going to get--A world class beer or a homebrew gone awry. This one sits on the fence.

May pair well with equally as powerful foods--blue cheeses, meats, et al.

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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 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 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 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 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 cracker
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
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.

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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 Hhawk06
4.23/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one out of a 22 oz. bomber, although I don't think they sell it any other way. It poured quite attractively, that was darkish golden in color and very carbonated. The head was cloudy, largely beaded, but surprising quite sustaining. The nose was solid as well, as it displays a soft hop aroma along with a bready freshness. The drink itself was very well balanced in the mouthfeel with a straight medium body. The soft floral hops are countered exquisitely bye a crisp maltiness, almost like a cracker. The brew itself is definitely balance driven and it is very well achieved. It finishes freshly, dry, and with a bit of orangey smoothness. The remaining faint and soft hop bouquet is very elegant and impressive. Excellent.

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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 FLAbeergutinMASS
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of Hagbard
3.71/5  rDev +2.2%
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!

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Photo of Goldorak
3.74/5  rDev +3%
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.

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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 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 mikeys01
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice amber/light brown color, with a healthy white head that gradually dissipated. Aroma is very strong with citrus hops and just a bit of caramel. Taste is boldly hoppy and bitter at first, more so than expected, but then blends into a nice malty midground that carries you through to a smooth finish leaving just a hint of bitterness and floral hop flavor on the tongue. Body is quite medium. A very good American Pale ale, not an extreme example of the style, but very nicely done indeed.

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Photo of scottum
4.13/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bobcat in Bristol, VT.

Pours out a nice amber with a nice white head. Hops are strong here, but not uber over the top. The malts are very mellow with a touch of sweet and toasty. This beer is a well crafted pale ale with a beautiful hop flavor. Nice and drinkable with a wonderful hop bite which keeps me coming back for more.

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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 dwarbi
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Truly a beautiful ale! Frothy white head. It sticks around for a while. I think I could take this head out and play with it. Maybe mold it into my own likeness. Hazy beer. Golden amber. Smells nice, but not powerful enough. Tastes chunky. A little bitter. In your face, but with a gentle finish. Interesting mouthfeel. A bit of a bitter aftertaste. I like it. Very drinkable, this beer definitely keeps my interest.

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Photo of sponberg
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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