Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler - Portland Brewing Company

Not Rated.
MacTarnahan's Spine TinglerMacTarnahan's Spine Tingler

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

61 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 61
Hads: 172
Avg: 3.78
pDev: 14.29%
Wants: 8
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Portland Brewing Company visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
Tripel |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: msubulldog25 on 02-26-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

The third of four in a new series of specialty beers (introduced 2009-10), available March through May.

Malts: Pilsner Malt, and Wheat
Hops: Northern Brewer, and Perle
Other: Candied Sugar
IBU: 23
ABV: 8.5 %
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 61 | Hads: 172
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

one of the better American tripels ive had in some time. it has a hazy blonde color to it, faint caramel glows, and a half inch of white milky head. it smells like a farmhouse beer, or a wild ale, curiously yeasty for the style, and very bright and floral. I don't get the candy sugar or the light sweet malts in the nose at all, just a really intriguing yeast strain. the taste isn't nearly so far out, coming back within the conventions of the style. sweet pale and wheat malts on the front end, and a honey sweetness on the finish, without lingering any longer than necessary. the yeast isn't as fun as the nose indicated, but it does unite all elements quite well. my first beer from these guys, and I really enjoyed it. thanks to my mom for hooking it up, a nice first beer in their new home. good times.

 809 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.67/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear golden; for a Belgian style, the head was not particularly impressive though it did leave a few clumps of lace scattered here and there

Smell: Golden Delicious apples, cotton candy and spicy, herbal phenols

Taste: The apple flavor jumps out, up front, though it is not as sweet as in the aroma; by mid-palate, the spicy yeast phenols add a sharp twist; after the swallow, the sweeter elements start to come through, bringing the Candi sugar impact, though the phenols remain pronounced

Mouthfeel: Medium body with prickly carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Overall: A decent stab, but I am not crazy about the cumulative effect; a bit to sharp and phenolic; the alcohol is not particularly well disguised and the sweetness didn't meld well with the rest of the flavors

Thanks, mdaschaf, for the opportunity

 844 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.32/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

"I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism."

--P.D. James

Kruggerand gold with a fine yeasty haziness and multiple streams of uprushing bubbles. The thick chunk of alabaster colored cream is not Belgianesque, but it's no slouch either. Melting brings about a gently rocky texture that is acceptably attractive. Too bad it isn't more sticky, because lace is scarce.

The nose is pure tripel, with plenty of golden fruit and aromatic spiciness. No alcohol is a major plus. If ST can deliver on the palate, then this offering has a chance to be one of the best MacTarnahan's brews yet.

Give the brewers credit for getting the basic outlines of the style right. However, the end result is nowhere near the best Belgian tripels on the planet. Actually, it's nowhere near the best American-brewed tripels either.

Spine Tingler Golden Belgian-Style Triple tastes like a pretty decent American malt liquor brewed with a less than outstanding Belgian yeast strain. On the negative side... it's simple, grainy and raw. On the positive side... none of those is a complete deal breaker.

Specifics include modestly sweet pale grains, lightly grassy-spicy hops, a dash of ground clove, and a splash of lower shelf vodka. Aging might help... and it might not. Warming changes nothing, other than the fact that it pushes both the flavor and the drinkability scores in a downward direction.

A Belgian tripel-like body/mouthfeel was not expected (and couldn't be delivered by this brewery in a million years). It's on the light end for the style and is decently bubbled. No hint of creaminess and expansiveness, however.

Sorry, but MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler does not elicit a spine tingle from this tripel loving craft beer lover. It's good to see the brewery trying something different on occasion, but they need to give us better beer than this.

 1,955 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.21/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this, Bobby.

A: The pour is a fairly clear golden color with a very large white head.

S: Spices come through right away with a bit of clove and coriander character. Lots of straw and lightly grassy with some banana sweetness, as well as some bread and apple notes.

T: The banana is a bit more pronounced on the palate than it was on the nose. Some green apple, grass, and straw give a strange flavor for a Tripel. Lots of bread, though it's pretty stale tasting.

M: Medium bodied with a medium to high carbonation.

O: Sort of bland for a Tripel with far too much grass and straw.

 603 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle - $5.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours out a clear, light golden body with a meringue-like, airy, white head. The head collapses but sustains a thin coating.

Smell: Sweetish nose of pils and wheat malt with notes of honeysuckle, spicy-scented whole peppercorns, aromatic esters of stone fruits and pulped 'nanas, chewing gum, and alcohol.

Taste: Pilsner malts with a tickle of tangy wheat malt. Moderately sweet with a sugary flourish. Splash of tart pear and banana juices. A few green peppercorns. A quarter teaspoon of sweetened lemon cream. Small hint of alcohol. Drying, fruity, and spicy on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Overall: Not overly sweet, not too boozy, and not burdensomely heavy in the mouthfeel department -- I kinda liked it!

 828 characters

Photo of nickfl
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with one finger of loose, white foam on top of a clear, golden body. The foam settles rapidly and leaves little lace.

S - Clove and pineapple with a bit of pear.

T - Some cidery malt up front with a bit of pear flavor. Honey and clove in the middle with a transition to melon as the beer finishes. Lingering notes of honey, clove, thick malt and a touch of spicy hops.

M - A fairly thick body, moderately high carbonation, and a cloyingly sweet finish.

D - The head is sad, the aroma is kind of promising, but the flavor profile and excessive sweetness lock this in as a sub-par effort. Sadly, like many American examples of the style, it has too much malt character and way too much sweetness to be properly drinkable.

 733 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a light fizzy head of 1/2 finger, fades semi quickly typical of 8.5%, very clear straw almost watery.

Nose is typical Belgian golden malts, light fruity esters from yeast and light floral spices, hint of bubblegum, apple and pair, hint of booze.

Taste starts with light cereal grains, light belgian malts, fruity esters with apple and pair but light, hint of chewy bubblegum and hint of metallic, light warming and slight tingly booze, hint of solventy, light wheat flavors, floral spices and hint citrus. Finish is light solventy very quick finish, slightly dry, hint of malts.

Mouth is med bodied, decent carb, light warming booze.

Overall meh, interesting flavors but some bubblegum and solvent, very light and slightly watery on the taste, finish is way too quick.

 778 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Perfumey Belgian-inspired tripel. Clear golden in the Affligem chalice. Decent head, champagne bubbles, and a fairly coarse carbonation. Light floral and fruity aroma.

Rather appley, in fact I immediately thought of Boone's Farm apple wine. Sugary taste with a rough cider apple bitterness. A touch of an aspirin kind of bitterness. Aftertaste is quite unpleasant with the bitter and sweet together. Not much in the way of yeast or complex flavors. On the sharp side as the sugar subsides.

From the 22 oz bottle scored at Olive Tree Market in OB, San Diego.

 559 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.74/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep gold color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains Belgian yeast, fruits, caramelized malts, some spice and some hops.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of caramel, spices, apples and citrus. Then some breadiness comes in from Belgian yeast and a hearty but not too heavy malt character. There’s also a bit of an estery bite. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it’s a solid beer but there are others in the style that I would choose first.

 839 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pale golden beer appears nicely in my St Bernardus chalice glowing golden honeycomb body with a bright white head forming thick. Aroma has some honeysuckle floral notes, deep mango, and tropical pineapple twang going on just a big ol' mess of fruit esters. Flavor is easily a bit tart with fruit notes, mango, tangerine, pineapple notes with a nice cereal grain accent and herbal hops in the finish with a thin layer of spice and alcohol booze going on. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky at times, but not cloying a bit hot with booze heat, but not over the top. Enjoyable take on a Belgian tripel without the finesse, your classic tripel tastes easy to drink without the big alcohol it goes down easy and creeps up on you.

 715 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Starts with a two-finger head, but it settles quickly to only rim lace. Some spots left on the glass. The color is golden with a minimal haze.

Sweet and sour nose. Some yeast bite. Some citrus rind even though I do not detect any significant hop. Light alcohol. Classic Tripel smell.

Rich, almost oily, body with a very high level of carbonation. It works. The flavor matches the smell, mildly sweet with a sour bite in the swallow. There is a small hop bite in the aftertaste. Notable alcohol warmth. No yeast in the taste.

 526 characters

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into chalice, no bottle dating. Pours fairly crystal clear golden amber color with a 1 finger dense and fluffy white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of apricot, lemon, pear, apple, light banana, clove, pepper, herbal, grass, candi sugar, bread, light bubblegum, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, pale malt, and earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big apricot, lemon, pear, apple, light banana, clove, pepper, candi sugar, bread, herbal, grass, light bubblegum, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy yeast spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of apricot, lemon, pear, apple, light banana, clove, pepper, herbal, grass, candi sugar, bread, light bubblegum, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a short bit. Fairly dry after the finish. Damn nice complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, pale malt, and earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, crisp, and slightly bready mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent tripel! All around great complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, pale malt, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,555 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.81/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle served in a Belgian snifter.

Pour is hazy and golden with a good head and very good lacing.

Aroma: mildly fruity and lightly spicy with a substantial light grain base.

Flavor: moderately fruity with hints of banana and clove, and a less obvious presence of light malts.

Feel: lively but appropriate carbonation; medium body.

O: fine American version of this Belgian style.

 394 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear golden color with a two finger, white foamy head on top, great retention. Nice, sticky lacing clings to the glass.

S: A bit of lemon and green apple with some grainy malt. Very slight Belgian yeast aroma. A but of alcohol comes through.

T: Very light fruit ester flavors with a little bit of spice/yeast mixed in. Some light grainy/pale malt with a touch of alcohol coming through here as well.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: An average tripel, the alcohol coming through hurt a bit. At least it was only $1.99.

 552 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - translucent gold with a short-lived white head

S - yeast, alcohol, some faint spice

T - fruit, alcohol, light malt, white grapes

M - warming alcohol, medium bodied, well carbonated

This is a pretty alcoholic. It's boozy. The flavor is simplistic. It's all booze with some fruity yeast notes. Ultimately, this is a simple, one-dimensional beer that I won't be having again.

 380 characters

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

Poured from a bomer into a snifter, the beer is a bright, slightly hazed, corn yellow coloring with a thin, sparse, filmy white coating on the surface. Aromas of bready richness, a light and fruity sweetness, both citrus and banana, and spicings of clove, nutmeg, coriander, and pepper. Flavors are all over the palate on the initial tasting, covering every tastebud. Fruitiness turns a more tropical head, supporting the more peppery and slightly cayenne spicing that highlights it. Tangy sweet backbone also has touches of more traditional Tripels, such as caramel and old world fruits like date and fig, but overall this has an updated approach, with the spices controlling the puppet strings, so to speak. The spicy bite at the end of the palate continues to grow as you continue to drink, but never lingers behind to cause a long-standing burn. Impressive control of flavors. The carbonation level and spicing also help to keep the body light and smooth. Tangy fruit aftertaste, mostly the pineapple, banana, and melon, but again with a touch of the date and fig. The finish is clean and smooth, with only a slight buzz that lingers shortly after. Looking forward to having this accent a spicy dish in the very near future.

 1,228 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a golden orange color with good carbonation and a nice white head. Nose is peepery, belgian yeast, booze. Taste followed closely with booze and pepper, floral, light citrus and perhaps a touch of honey. Sweet with a candy like element. Mouthfeel is beligan yeast, booze, floral and tinge of booze at the end. Worth a try.

 328 characters

Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a very nice cloudy golden yellow color, nice carbonation, with a nice one-finger fizzy white head, which leaves a nice oil slick in the middle of the glass. The nose is malty, with some nice yeast notes, slight bannana note, coriander. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, yeasty, with some nice fruit notes, and spice. Medium body. Overall a very nice brew.

 393 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Could only afford a cheap bomber.... so another McTarnahan's Belgian style it is. Shared with the wife... mine is poured into MNFG (Portsmouth Goblet thanks to jrae2424 ... Very Cool Jason!!)

Thin 1/2" white head dies quickly... the brew is a hazed golden.

Nose is heavily phenolic and estery... honestly reminds me of a big German Hefe... plenty of clove.. some pink bubblegum.... banana.

Flavor gives a huge nod to Bazooka Joe... lesser banana and spices... ehhh... okay... just really tons of Belgian Yeast qualities... maybe too much for my taste.

Body is medium with a fair amount of small bubble carbonation.

okay across the board, but I don't know I will buy another.


 698 characters

Photo of flagmantho
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Bottle says to enjoy by 6/10/2010.

Appearance: light golden color with a touch of haze and a finger of compact white foam. Pretty nice, though the foam seems to be dissipating somewhat rapidly.

Smell: very nice malt aroma with appropriate fruit characteristics: pear, Granny Smith apples and a light cherry character are all present. The nose also has a hint of floral aromas and a little warming alcohol. Quite appealing.

Taste: flavor is quite bright. More pure malt flavor comes through in the flavor than in the aroma, which is quite nice. The sweet fruit qualities are still here, though dampened. Personally, I like the contrast between aroma and taste. This is also a tad sweeter than the average tripel; not a bad thing, necessarily, but a touch too sweet for my liking. Hops here are very subtle but appropriate.

Mouthfeel: I think my love for creaminess is one reason I like tripels so much. Here, Spine Tingler does not disappoint: medium-thick body which is already a little syrupy also has a big does of carbonation which makes for a delightfully creamy liquor.

Drinkability: very good, but the extra sweetness is just enough to make this merely "good". It's still a very nice beer which I would gladly have again.

 1,270 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Lemon coloring with a pristine clarity on the first pour. A pearl white frothy head sits a finger at best with a fair rate of retention. A semi-strong carbonation factor is quick paced within, while the lacing is moderate.

S: Aroma is weak sour lemony musky grains is all I could gather. Some bread and wheat.

T: The flavor is spicy and warm, sharp orange sweetness, lemon and musky grains and wheat. Grain sweetness mixes with a spicy booziness and offers some banana and pear notes from the yeast.

M: Strong carbonation on the mouthful that quickly turns frothy and washy on the hold lacks crispness. Body is light.

O: Overall moderate experience. Sweet, warm and spicy and starts out well enough but a bomber may over stay its welcome. I would recommend splitting a bomber to kept things fresh and interesting as towards the end the flavor gets a bit mundane. Spine tingler is ok, certainly didn’t tickle my fancy let alone my spine but in smaller portions may become more enjoyable.

 999 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright golden color with a decent one-finger head into my glass. Very good appearance.

Sweet with clove, spicy yeast and a hint or two of citrus in the nose. Been a while since I've had this style.

Raisin, clove and apple are the actual flavors that I detect. Add those to chewy malt and you have an interesting combination.

Lingering raisin and clove. Chewy malt. The works. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I like this. It may just be the ticket that I need to get back into reviewing Belgian ales.

 510 characters

Photo of avalon07
4.39/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a yellow color and a clear consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Not a whole lot of lacing.

S: A strong aroma of light fruit, yeast, and some malt.

T: Tasted of Belgian yeast, malt, phenols, fruit (citrus mostly), and some spices (pepper, e.g.). An excellent flavor: well-rounded, robust, easy to drink.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a prickly, lively finish. Medium-bodied.

O: One of the better examples of an American version of a Belgian-style beer. Very drinkable.

 555 characters

Photo of ccrida
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into my large St. Feuillien goblet, Spine Tingler is a lightly hazed dark gold with a tight white head with decent last leaving foamy lace, fed by a steady stream of lazy bubbles.

Smell is very estery, overripe bananas, lychee. Love it.

Taste is also estery, the fruits but also some spiciness, just a very light hint of cereals and a whisper of alcohol, clean and tasty.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, medium-light bodied.

Drinkability is solid. I love big estery Belgians, and this one is also smooth and value priced. I think people have a negative bias towards all these Mac's specialty beers based on the low priced and the depth of flavor of their year rounders. But I've been impressed and have really enjoyed them so far, and this one is no exception. Well done!

 787 characters

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma is not strong but still inviting, fruity, malty and a little yeasty. It pours a clear solar yellow with a thick, fluffy and rather persistent white head. Rich flavor has firm pear, banana and yeasty notes with a malty underpinning and a subtle alcohol nip. Lively, fizzy flavor gets the attention of your mouth and trachea - you can feel it all the way down to your tummy. A spine tingler indeed!

 402 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler from Portland Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 61 ratings.