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Benchmark Old Ale - Portland Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Benchmark Old AleBenchmark Old Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

33 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 33
Reviews: 32
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.7%
Wants: 1
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Portland Brewing Company visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  9.90% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-25-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 33 | Reviews: 32 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by MrNuggets:
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MrNuggets

Oregon

4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Holy smokin' hops! Big hops on the nose lend to a grapefruit like character. More malt comes through in the taste which makes me appreciate those hops even more. Yes this could use alot more depth in the malt department and all these hops do seem a little odd for an old ale. But this beer tastes great and thats what matters.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2004 04:07:24 | More by MrNuggets
More User Reviews:
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WynnO

Florida

5/5  rDev +24.4%

08-26-2012 04:06:04 | More by WynnO
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udubdawg

Kansas

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

found 3 of these 22 oz bombers from 2003 in my stash recently. Looks like I've forgotten about it over the past few years. Reading the recent reviews I'm not encouraged, but let's see...

Pours a coppery amber color. First glass is quite clear, 2nd has, despite my best efforts, quite a bit of yeast sediment - most of this would dissipate into the beer and color it darker with a hazed appearance. Nice initial 3/4 inch off-white head but little retention, and no lace to speak of.

This beer smells very good. Strong, malty, sweet, boozy. Quite a lot of fruit, and a touch of vanilla. Maybe I should have waited until closer to bedtime.

Malty sweet with brown sugar up front. Rich - like carmelized brown sugar and butter. In terms of fruit I'm thinking some plum and apple, but a bit of something a lot sweeter like pineapple. I expected this to be too sweet, but there was a surprising and nice touch of hop bitterness in the finish - sweetness is far from cloying! MUCH better than I expected to say the least! Warming in the stomach, the ABV otherwise rarely shows itself.

Pretty decent creaminess on this beer. Could use a little more body as it sometimes felt a bit thin. Don't remember what carbonation was originally but it is on the low side now.

Surprisingly drinkable. I'll have another soon and see if I'm just rating this so well because of low expectations, but for now I'm extremely pleased. Because of the strength I doubt I'd ever want more than one bomber, but I'll have little trouble finishing this one.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2007 00:27:07 | More by udubdawg
Photo of mcallister
mcallister

Ohio

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Anxious too try this brew. Not sure about it's storage but being 4 years old hopefully it was in a cool dark place.

An opaque crimson, with hints of ruby and mahagony. Picture perfect white fluffy retentative head. Thin film of lace.

According to the nose this beer is alive and well. Thick with toffee, brown sugar, maple, wood, and a bit of milk chocolate. Dried fig, with a nutty aspect and a bit of floral hopping also.

Drinking quite well although not as complex as the nose would suggest. Sweet, malty mid palate with a medium body and a bit of alcohol on the finish. Finish is long and full of burnt toffee, and bits of caramel. Brown sugar resides on the mid palate with an dried fig quality over the entire palate. Lacking depth too take it too the next step. However very nice and drinkable. I'm very happy too have a chance to try this brew.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2007 23:39:32 | More by mcallister
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fartingdog

California

3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle MMIII - I assume this is '03 vintage. It was hiding in the back storage at Ledger's for a few years.

Slightly hazy orange-copper color, thin head. Looked beautiful against the sunlight. Rich, sweet smell- almost like butterscotch. Thin head.

Initial sharp bite, followed by a slightly fruity, buttery sweetness. left a tinge of bitter and mild hop flavor - felt the alcohol warming after a few secs.

Mouthfeel was a bit thin, almost watery. Not as thick as i'd expect (or hope) for the style. Very watery after-feel, mild carb.

An easy drinker, strong. Not the best example of the style. Overall, not a bad beer.

Note to others- since this is retired, the chance of finding it are slim. If you like strong beers, it may be worth it to give it a shot. They aren't your cup of meat, this is not as syrupy or strong (which i personally like) as others in the style.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2006 19:07:45 | More by fartingdog
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 (MMIII) vintage. Flawless rustic orange with a coppery cherry blush and edges of bright, juicy orange. The head is midway between palest ecru and yellowed ivory in color and is surprisingly light and airy. It has enough stiffness to persist, but not enough tackiness to adhere to the glass. The appearance score has more to do with the gorgeous color than with the substandard head. Definitely an odd look for an old ale.

I love the nose. In fact, it's so aromatic that I've been enjoying it ever since the pour without getting my nose anywhere near the glass. Simply put, Benchmark smells like a barley wine. It's richly brown malty and a great deal else besides. It smells like cherry pipe tobacco, brandy-soaked oranges, brown sugar and leather. It's an intriguing potpourri that should translate well to the palate.

Unfortunately, the flavor is let down by a body that isn't up to the task. This beer deserves a thick, rich, chewy body that would allow one to delve into the depths of what should be a fascinating combination of flavors. Instead, it doesn't have a chance to sink in and get comfortable or to linger. It's also too fizzily carbonated; another negative, especially given the style.

Other than that, it's decent beer. Most all of the aromas have counterparts on the palate, though they're much less vibrant and much less distinctive. Cherries and oranges are still present, as is watered-down light brown sugar syrup. Sweet dominates early while bitter edges in on the finish. With much more malt (the single most important fix in my mind) bitter wouldn't stand a chance. In some respects, this beer tastes half-finished.

At least the alcohol, after having had three years to mellow out, is a welcome part of the flavor profile rather than a harsh, raw outsider. It isn't difficult to imagine that this beer was on the hot side when young. I keep sipping and hoping... sipping and hoping... but the change from cellar temperature to room temperature adds nothing of value.

I've been thinking about drinking this bomber of Benchmark Old Ale for some time now, but thought that it was more than capable of aging and would only improve with time. Either I was wrong about that or it was never all that stellar to begin with. I hate it when a beer falls this far short of expectations. Benchmark is no benchmark for the old ale style, that's for sure.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2006 23:51:32 | More by BuckeyeNation
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brewandbbq

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 1999

Pours gold with ruby hints, clear, with a fluffy white head.
Lively carbonation release adds an inch of foam before receding to a partial skim-coat.
Moderate stringy and dotted lacework remains.
Vineous and raisiny in the nose. Pretty straightforward with lightish malt, caramel steeped alcohol, and dried fruit.
Nose finishes up warming, with hints of vanilla, cherries, and buiscuits.
Medium bodied, sticky and a bit chewy. A lingering hop bitterness adds some crispness.
Juicy malt up front on the pallet, followed by rum-soaked raisins and caramel drizzled tangerine.
Hop presence is known, with a fairly aggresive bitterness (after 7 years) balancing out some residuals.
Pallet warms as it finishes, with a heavy barley nod.
Tasty, but lacking the needed level of vineousity and complexity of a great old ale.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2006 22:45:31 | More by brewandbbq
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CRJMellor

Arkansas

3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours copper with a dash of a little extra red. Big dull-white, puffy head forms and recedes rather quickly but leaves lots of large clumps of sticky lace on the snifter.
Aroma has a highly sweetened caramel note with a touch of hop spiciness and some light resin and pine tars. Some darker citrus fruit notes are in the background waiting to be released as it warms.
Flavor of caramel dominates with a touch of green apple and a measured citrus and resin hop tone. Just a hint of grainy alcohol on the finish.
Mouthfeel is very sweet through front and mid-palate but then abruptly is cut by a tongue numbing and palate coating dry, spciy bittering and some medicinal alcohol. Given it a slightly above medium on the fullness spectrum.
Drinkability is solidly good. Maybe a tad to light to be prototypical to style but a smooth and pleasurable drinking experience.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2005 02:15:05 | More by CRJMellor
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GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the glass crystal clear medium to almost deep amber with an off-white to tan head that rose tall and lively and fell very slowly to coat the glass.

The aroma was malty with dark caramel most prominent. Behind the dark caramel resided the dark fruit aromas of raisins and a slight sweet fruit presence. Some muted hop was also of note and a slight alcohol spice.

The flavor was malty with dark caramel and dark fruit flavors, namely raisin. The malt comingled with hop bittering which kept the sweetness perfectly in check. The complexity of those flavors also added in a spice component. Despite the flavors complexity was still on the low side. (Perhaps a bit more aging?) Alcohol was really not present in the flavor.

The finish was just dry with lasting spice into the aftertaste. The body was not quite medium full and unfortunately a bit thin. The alcohol was present in the aroma and in the warming after consumption but was well hidden in the flavor.

22 ounce bottle. MMIII on bottle. Not a bad beer at all, but certainly missing something, namely complexity.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2005 22:26:18 | More by GCBrewingCo
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Quaffer

Nevada

3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle, vintage 2003.

Appearance: Leaving the sediment behind in the bottle, this beer poured a slightly hazy, amber-red color. The coarse, beige head rose up to a little more than one finger with a rough pour. It sunk down slowly and became thick and dense around the edge of the glass. The remaining foam was sticky and left a lot of nice lace behind.

Smell: Right after the pour, the aroma was thick with sweet malts. After the head had dissipated, this smell continued but lowered a few notches. It also lost some of its sweetness and took on a more roasted quality, which really saved the aroma in my opinion. It was joined by candied fruits, dates and raisins, cherries, and hints of alcohol. A very light layer of vanilla peaked through from time to time.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and buttery smooth. Lightly mouth coating. Overall, a very nice presence in the mouth.

Taste: A very smooth and somewhat subdued beer for how big it is. Sweet malts and vanilla wafers mixed well with tart cherries upfront. These were quickly joined by a balancing hit of hops bitterness, though the overall flavor remained sweet. Raisins and alcohol rose up to mix with the other flavors on the finish. The alcohol was just right at first, but the more I drank, it became a little too strong and started to overpower the other flavors.

A good beer. I'm not usually a big fan of PBC brews so this one really surprised me.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2005 23:21:07 | More by Quaffer
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ZAP

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a hell of a tasty brew...malt lovers will like it...big sweet delightfull aroma of cookie dough...vanilla...mangos....cantelope...coconuts...and a hint of sweet irish whiskey....as good as the nose is, the taste is even better....outstanding sweet malty flavor without being overdone...same imprsssions as the smell but now I get a little more of a sweet caramel flavor as well....

Body is medium...creamy...ABV is extremely well hidden...drinkability is off the charts...I poured this as a night cap sipper to watch a movie with and it will be gone very fast...

Maybe it's just my personal tastes but I think this is outstanding....one of my favorite beers of all time...top 50 for sure...

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2005 04:03:01 | More by ZAP
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feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lovely appearance, a peachy pale hue, slightly toasted amber, with a respectable 1/2" layer of pale whitish fuzz.
Incredible aroma, deep bourbony character, roasted dark fruits, raisins and dates, burnished cherries almost on the way to brandy, alcohol creeping through with the nuts and berries.
Big, bold flavor, but leaves the palate rather mildly. Buzzes the buds ever so gently, and I'm wondering where the booze went. 9.9% is mighty big, and I could feel it in the nose, but where did it go? Pretty tasty and smooth, I have to say...a bit whiskeyish, with a sidecar of chocolate. Damnitty-damn, but I likes this...very tasty, very mellow...an awesome brew.
As I finish, the whiskey taste, the hot alcohol presence, it all reigns high, but doesn't spoil the drinkability. This is a well-made Old Ale, the way they ought to be made. Very nice.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2004 04:44:20 | More by feloniousmonk
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Reidrover

Oregon

4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

OK had some extra cash in pocket so at last i can splash out on this( its $.5.99 a bottle).
Classy screen printed bottle witha roman coin and the Latin year date "MMIII" 2003
A very classy looking ale it is,nice warm chesnut brown colour with a nice sized semi-frothy off white head..that sinks fast but leaves a good amount of lacing.
the aroma is quite malty and reminds me of some Scotch Ales ( Skullsplitter comes to mind).Some dark fruitiness in the aroma also.
mm nice taste too again the malts are very nice in this ,but there is no lack of hops also..they strike the tongue half way through the mouthful.then are gone, alcohol is warming in the belly but is not very noticable in the mouth.
Nice smooth mouthfeel with a nice creamy finish.
I liked this beer and found it very drinkable for almost 10% alcohol.
Its good though probably not worth $6.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2004 07:07:45 | More by Reidrover
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Rio

Kansas

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed 11/09 for Venom and Davo. Sorry, guys, couldn't find any Beast. :)

Nice, deep copper color, with a decent, tan head that left some nice lacing. Sweet malts and caramels apparent to the nose, as well as a strong aroma of spice at first, which melded nicely with the other aromas as the brew began to warm a bit.

Smooth, sweet malts begin the experience for the tastebuds, followed by a transition to a smooth middle ground of flavor before the hops make their presence known. A bit of the caramel hangs around in the mouth for a bit afterwards. Very smooth, slightly crisp, and a slight thickness to this beer.

It's not a barleywine, but it does have some of the same qualities to it that make me love the barleywine style. Very good beer, and no discernable trace of the 9.9% alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2004 04:15:26 | More by Rio
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TheLiterati

California

3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Enjoyed a vintage 2003 bottle of this beautiful, coppery amber ale, with a smallish, cream-colored head…gives way to a nice lace.

Aroma and taste hints of barley wine. Has a spicy, fruity scent, with sweet, almost syrupy undertones, and a flowery finish. Smooth and malty, with a tangy taste that lingers on the palate long after the last effervescent swallow.

Has a little after burn like a well aged scotch whiskey.

Drinkability is OK, but the overall the taste is reminiscent of "hard liquor" as my grandma would say.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2004 02:49:03 | More by TheLiterati
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merlin48

Kentucky

3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 vintage here. Attractive, screened, bottle as pictured. This old ale pours a clear, bright copper body with a sticky, one finger head that retains for several minutes before falling to cap and patchy ring lace.
Aroma begins with a huge caramel maltiness, but quickly grows more complex. Butterscotch, citrus hops, and oranges add an interesting balance to the nose. No ethanol in the aroma.
Mouthfeel is very good, with tingling carbonation and a medium to full body.
Taste has a malty dominance with lots of caramel and toffee. Hops presence is adequate for balance and wavers between peppery herbs and citrusy orange. I keep picking up orange flavors in the taste, as well as through retro-olfaction. Interesting, and pleasant, though unusual for style. Enough hops bittering to even out the prevalent malt dominance. Alcohol warming creeps into the scene toward the finish, a prodding reminder that this is almost 10%.
This one is interesting for an old ale, and I enjoyed the orange accents which compliment the heavy malt profile quite well. Dangerously drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2004 20:54:20 | More by merlin48
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ManekiNeko

Virginia

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle served lightly chilled in a Rapscallion goblet.

Appearance: Dark reddish copper topped by a fluffy offwhite heat that receded to a small layer of foam. Thick sheets of lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Wonderfully balanced boquest of caramel malts, fruity esters and citric/piny hop aromas.

Taste: Brash peppery hops on the start (and pretty much throughout) giving way to toasted biscuit malts. Pine sap and breads on the finish. Not overtly alcoholic in taste, but it's there.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body with longlasting aftertastes.

Drinkability: Lives up to its name and then some. Maybe a bit lacking in complexity maltwise to be truly awesome, but the other components make up for it.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2004 15:13:50 | More by ManekiNeko
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Boilermaker88

California

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this 22oz bottle almost six months ago and let it sit until last night. Poured into an imperial pint glass, Benchmark had a dark ochre color topped with a firm, resilient vanilla-hued head.
The nose had a real sweet caramel malt aroma underscored by a variety of fruity scents - red delicious apples, hints of cherries and nectarines - and an even deeper herbal spiciness. Some modest alcohol fumes were present but nothing that indicated a 9.9%ABV or were unpleasant.
The taste was pretty sweet up front with a lot of candy sugar notes over more fruit. The grains came through briefly mid-palate before morphing to a fairly assertive herbal hoppiness. This bittering became more pronounced and longer-lasting with each taste, especially as the brew warmed. A slight alcohol burn was noted in the throat. The feel was medium in body, smooth and leaving a slight sizzle on the tongue.
Benchmark Old Ale was quite drinkable. For a nearly-10.0% beer, it doesn't jump right up an punch you in the face with the alcohol, a refreshing, if dangerous, departure from a number of recent high-ABV brews I've had. Benchmark would rather sneak up and ambush you. Worth giving a try if you spot it.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2004 17:18:18 | More by Boilermaker88
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ppoitras

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (2003 vintage) purchased as a single from Wine & Beer - Westpark, Richmond, VA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1 1/2" light tan head over a dark copper brew. Laces well, with thick, foamy bits here and there. Aroma is sweetly malty, with an apparent alcohol component. Taste is mainly sweet malts, an the alcohol is there, but not as apparent as the nose would indicate. More of a "sneak up and grab you" type of feel, not a "bash you over the head, I am the Beast!" feel. Mouthfeel and drinkability both good, especially for an old ale. The smoothness and lack of alcohol burning is much appreciated.

Serving type: bottle

08-15-2004 00:05:28 | More by ppoitras
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Zorro

California

4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear bronze colored ale.

Smell is sweet, lots of malt and fruity with a fainter cracker scent of wheat.

Taste is very sweet but the other flavors balance it out. The alcohol in this prickles your tongue. Lots of extra flavors here. Smoky, apple, black pepper, apple skin, cherry and pollen.

Mouthfeel is good.

Nice brew didn't recognize how powerful it is when I bought it. A fine sipping brew.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2004 03:40:47 | More by Zorro
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DPMomutant

Missouri

3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This 22oz bomber indicates the 2003 vintage.

Pours a nice looking dark copper to ruby color. Head is minimal but does lace a bit around the glass.

Smell is mostly of a moderate cherry and maybe some other fruits. A little bit of malt.

I notice the yeast at the beginning but it quickly settles to a sweeter taste. Not too sweet, kind of a fruity sweet but quite as much of the cherry as from the smell. A bit of caramel-like taste but surprisingly not as alcoholic tasting as many would be at 9.9 ABV.

I'm not as fond of the mouthfeel, however. For an ale of this size, it is very thin. Carbonation is on the low side but there. It does go down smooth for a bigger beer.

I could drink this well enough to have more than one, which could get you in trouble real quick because the alcohol is deceptive.

I won't make special trips to get this, but if I see it I might grab one here and there. Past reviews found the alcohol much more present than I did. Maybe they had a 2004. If that's the case I advise at least a year or so of aging as mine seems to have settled down. A good nightcap drink, just don't have much else before or after it.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2004 05:01:15 | More by DPMomutant
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winomark

Missouri

3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a nice deep copper with a thick light tan head with copious bubbles. CO2 almost knocked me out! Sweet malt and alcohol finds a way into the nose, but somewhat mild. Slight malt sweetness and some yeasty tomes are most notable, along with a quite alcoholic taste. Almost too much alcohol or not enough malt to offer some balance. Somewhat thick mouthfeel with a very warming finish; almost hot. Disappointed with this beer. Alcohol has too much of the focus, with the malt and any other ingredients taking a back seat. No need to search for this one.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2004 15:05:26 | More by winomark
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nomad

Kansas

3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I think this is the 2004 edition, I found it at a great store in Glen Allen, VA. Its a clear amber beer with thin, slow lace. Pretty fair looking, its smell starts with tropical fruit scents, like Simcoe or Amarillo hops, along the lines of Doggie Claws. Husky toasted grains is the backbone as well as brown sugar notes. Meak as even the great hop scents waffle with time.

Tastes like juicy, fruity hops like Simcoe while the malt is grainy with its thin roasty flavors. Lean but a little chewy, there are chocolate notes in the finish. Unfortunately, the alcohol creaps a bit and fiddles with things and the creamy yet prickly carbonated mouthfeel is not always the best. Creamy butter is the character of distasteful finish (but not a diacetyl flavor).

Darn, expected more. The hops are cool and definitely an American twist on the ole' British bugger, but regardless of innovation the backbone should be a well-integrated and malty Old ale; Benchmark's was thin at best. Does it need bottle-conditioing? This one had no lees to speak of.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2004 00:37:36 | More by nomad
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RedDiamond

Oregon

4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I first had a bottle of this vintage 2003 old ale in May of 2004, then revisited the same beer in September 2005 after finding a rare bottle tucked away at a local merchant. The two visitations stood out in sharp contrast to one another. My first tasting led me to believe the beer was rather mundane. I noted at the time that the bottle lacked yeast, suggesting the beer had not been bottle conditioned. I commented, “One might think that a year-old ale of nearly 10% ABV would be comfortable sitting awhile undergoing a prolonged second or third fermentation. This does not appear to be the case.”

Sixteen months later I drank from a bottle that held plenty of yeast in the lees and was rewarded with a fine drinking experience. Why was there no yeast in the first Benchmark and plenty in the second? I can’t say. All I know is that the beer worked powerfully well when allowed to bottle condition properly, and was otherwise lackluster in the absence of this enhancement. Ideally conditioned, Benchmark yields a sexy aroma with notes of apricot and produces fertile carbonation that holds up a stiff head. It is mostly clear, dark bronze with tiny flocs. The taste is peachy with an alcohol presence that remains prominent though gentle. The mouthfeel is relaxed and unfettered.

Benchmark arrives in a classy looking brown bomber airbrushed with an ancient Roman coin on it. It is no longer being brewed but serves as a reminder that proper conditioning can give a long life to an old ale.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2004 18:39:52 | More by RedDiamond
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mzwolinski

California

3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Impressive, very serious looking bottle. (With an impressive, serious looking price tag!) I had high hopes (and expectations) for this beer!

Somehow it wasn't as dark as I imagined it would be. Copper in color, and crystal clear, with a modest little waif of a white head.

The aroma, too, is rather meek. Hints of malt, and a faint trace of alcohol spice -- but not much.

Flavor is very sweet, though with a good bit of bitterness in the end. And then it's done. Huh? Where'd it go? The flavor, alas, is a bit one-dimensional, and passes over one's palate fairly quickly. It's a nice dimension, and all, but one expects a bit more from a beer like this. [To be fair, it develops a bit more as the beer warms, gathering some fruity flavors from the malt and alcohol esters, but it's still very thin. And actually, it starts to get a bit cloying as it warms too. Something of a trade-off, I suppose...]

Not a terrific beer, and certainly not something I'd drink much of given its price. Too bad!

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2004 02:57:10 | More by mzwolinski
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Benchmark Old Ale from Portland Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 33 ratings.