Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Shipyard Prelude Special Ale - Shipyard Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Shipyard Prelude Special AleShipyard Prelude Special Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

282 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 282
Hads: 539
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 18.83%
Wants: 13
Gots: 36 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Shipyard Brewing Co. visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.70% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: taez555 on 02-27-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (53) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Shipyard Prelude Special Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 282 | Hads: 539
Photo of WesWes
4.38/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite/tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a warm and malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, chocolate malts, and roasted barley. The hops help balance the aroma. The taste is excellent. It has a creamy malt flavor that boasts of chocolate and crystal malts. It goes down easy and finishes smooth and slightly warm. The mouthfeel is awesome. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a great winter warmer. It is quite complex and full of flavor; a kick ass seasonal.

 570 characters

Photo of UnionMade
3.57/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer is served a translucent umber brown, slightly towards red. A thick, creamy foam of head covers the brew, thinning out to a ring about halfway through. Not much in the way of lace, just a few scattered blobs.
The aroma is rather malty, with some chocolate malt and caramel. Slight coffee and plenty of estery fruit. Fig, plum and a touch of raisin, with just an ever so slight hint of buttery diacetyl. Some cashew/almond nuttiness, with lightly present english hops. Definitely some fuggles, lending an earthy grassiness. A bit of nutmeg peeks through faintly.
The flavor starts with a sweet, rich caramel malt. Some diacetyl butteriness peeks through almost immediately, tamed by mildly bittersweet chocolate malt. A touch grainy, with a bit of earthy nutmeg creeping into the middle. Hints of sweet raisin and fig newton, moving into a subtle hoppy finish. Good balance, with an english herbal quality. Goldings and fuggles, with a slightly nutty finish, suggesting cashew. The diacetyl trails away when the hops come in, leaving the finish earthy and organic. A faint coffee flavor lingers shortly in the aftertaste, disappearing after a couple swallows. Fairly light bodied, with soft, casky carbonation.
Casked, it's bit thinner than I remember from the bottles. Enjoyable nonetheless, with a pleasant roasty maltiness and an earthy, natural tone to the overall feel. Not my most favorite winter brew, but it's a treat to have a casked pint.

 1,458 characters

Photo of mikeys01
3.21/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 22oz bomber acquired shortly before Christmas. Pours into the glass a very dark amber topped with short lived off white foam. Aroma is mostly malty and sweet with a bit of rotting fruit. Taste is very malty and caramelized, with just a bit of spice and hints of raisin and cherry. Finally some hop bite comes in to save the day towards the end and finishes with a nice bitterness. moderate carbonation, quite full body. Maybe a prelude, but not the main course for me.

 482 characters

Photo of jdhilt
2.8/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours with a two-fingered off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a good lace. Light - medium carbonation. Deep clear amber color. Nose is soapy??. Starts with hops and malts; finishes with a hoppy/soapy overtone. Medium bodied. The ABV is currently 6.8%. $2.89 for a 22oz bottle.

 284 characters

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 22oz bomber.

Pours a still traslucent red with no head. Aroma is very light but is lightly spicy.

Taste is spicy. Ginger and some nutmeg. Bitter up front and then fruity and sweet. Some nice hops in the finish. Medium bodied and a bit of a sticky aftertaste.

Pretty drinkable holiday brew but nothing spectacular. Solid.

 337 characters

Photo of counselor
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

opened the bomber while dressing for a christmas party. Poured a nice brown/amber with a decent , rocky head. The head stayed fro the whole time with attractive lacing during consumption. the nose was nothing to speak of, mild nutty and spice notes with a hint of sweet roasted malts. The mouthfeel was ale-like, nothing too high ABV or overly spiced. The beer finished well after swallowing with a nice dry hop aroma / mouthfeel and good spicey and nutty flavors that lingered after each mouthful. Overall this was a decent holiday ale that neither dissapointed, nor exhilerated.

 580 characters

Photo of scottum
3.81/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark brown with a tan head. Tastes sweet from the malt, but not too sweet. A touch of buttery and chewey help out the sweetness. Hops are sharp and to the point of balance. The strength is almost fully hidden. The best Shipyard beer I've had so far.

 262 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: the color's a darker shade of crimson, and the head, though small, is solid and rests languidly, though perseseveredly, creamy in color.
Aroma: interestingly, starts out orangey, then with my next whiff I came away with nothing but sour green apples, really sour, jolly rancher sour, and still a neat balance of sweetness.
Taste: great blitz of hops at first, that's easily contained, then overwhelmed by fantastic, delicious maltiness, that totally dominates from there on out. Rich, tasty, thoroughly fruity (cherries, and grapes, and berries, ringing through the palate), very sweet, without coming close to too-much-so, and thoroughly refreshing, with the significant alcohol content becoming more evident as we empty the glass. This is nearly an ideal winter warmer. Very approachable, constantly rewarding, and eternally delicious.
Very glad to have the chance to taste one of these, and for the honor I thank Mr. Rabidawg!

 944 characters

Photo of yankeeheel
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear brown with a springy café colored head. Smells very weakly of nutty malt.

The taste is somewhat unremarkable. A little bit of caramel malt with some of that ever-repetitive Shipyard diacetyl. Not a unique brew by any stretch. The malts give way to a weak hop finish. I’m just a little bit disappointed that this tastes like a lot of other Shipyard beers.

 379 characters

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

Nice mahogany color...head that dissipated quickly. Definite winter warmer. Malty aroma with a definite hop accent. Initial malt sweetness ended in a beautiful hop presence at the end. Mouthfeel was light for the high abv. Drinkable, but don't guzzle!

 251 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sampled this on cask at Eli Canon's in Middletown, CT.

The beer poured with a reddish mahogany color and cascaded with an off white foamy head. The foam lingered through most of the pint with the surface of the brew always covered with a thin layer.
The aroma was sweet like candy with flowery hops as well.
Very smooth and low carbonation, as a cask ale should be. The initial flavor is malty sweet like caramel and maybe a little spiciness. This flavor is quickly overtaken with a hop bitterness but not an overwhelming bitter, just a crisp refreshing one. The brew is medium to light bodied and is very drinkable.
Very nice hop flavor on the finish which lingers in my mouth long after the beer is in my belly.
I actually had a second pint because I enjoyed the first so much! This beer goes down very easy and I was surprised to learn it is 7.5% alcohol!
Havent had it in bottle since last year so I will have to grab some in bottle form to. Another great beer by Shipyard!

 988 characters

Photo of nixhecks
4.11/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presented in a 22oz. bomber. Poured a deep, glowing ruby color with a medium off white head with medium retention. Aroma is of sweet sticky candy, not very strong but I assume it will grow while it warms. Despite the sweet smell the flavor was surprisingly not oversweet at all. Very nicely balanced, with barley malts on the forefront, finishing with a piney hop bite, and a little extra spiciness throughout. Mouthfeel has moderate carbonation and is medium-heavy in body. Excellent ale for the winter, very warming and definetely very drinkable!

 548 characters

Photo of bditty187
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear, dark ruby-copper/brown hue… skimpy beige head that faded rather quick… soapy residue around the edges. No lace. The bouquet is largely butterscotch and caramel, plums, dark fruit, sweet maltiness… quite a pleasant and inviting nose. Awesome palate! Tremendously complex and tasty… wonderfully crafted. The hops bound to the forefront; ideally bitter… sweet maltiness and alcohol triumphs in the middle… only to be quickly inundated by spiciness… fruitiness and light butterscotch is fazed in towards the end… the long and savory finish is rich with caramel but dry with hops. The usage of hops in this beer is perfect. Minimal carbonation and the tremendous maltiness creates a full-bodied ale. The abv is well hidden in the taste; it only adds hints of scrumptiousness… negligible influence on the mind. Prelude is worth seeking out… what a wonderful beverage… highly recommended. What’s better than a Christmas beer in July?

Thanks StevieW for this topnotch brew!

 988 characters

Photo of jeffboo
3.91/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Northeastern charmer sent over by Bierman9! Yummy winter warmer as a prelude into spring. A dark amber brew with a very bubbly head, and lots of red highlights make for a delicious look. The aroma is a bit mellow, some caramel malt and a little roast and spicy hops in the backround. This is a full bodied beer with a nice roasty/nutty finish. It has a nice malt sweetness with some spicy hop flavor that builds as it comes to room temp. At the half way point it has a nice mellow bitter finish to balance the sweetness. An easy drinking big beer that fits the local weather scene.

 583 characters

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sampled this ale on cask at the Coat of Arms pub in Portsmouth, NH.

This ale poured a slightly hazy, dark, copper-red color with good, slightly off-white foam that did not leave much lace. The smell was modest but good: sweet caramel malt aroma. The taste was sweet: some caramel malt overtones on top of a candy sugar taste. There were also hints of oak and floral hops, and the sweetness lingered on the tongue. The mouthfeel was smooth and relatively clean (other than the sweetness). The body was medium. This was a very drinkable and enjoyable ale.

 558 characters

Photo of paceyourself
4.13/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A reddish-brown pour produced a off-white head that was about a half inch tall. Sweet caramel, coffee, hazelnut and roasted malt flavors hide the 7.5% well when served very cold.

Served warmer this brew seems to come alive. A bolder malt profile and the spicy hoppiness lead into the warming alcohol feel very nicely. I found this very drinkable in the 12oz. bottles but i would love to try a bomber or from draft even sometime.

 432 characters

Photo of Bierman9
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just got a bomber of the 'Lude from JohnnyP (27JAN03).... nice stuff! Rich, dark, clear copper color...very attractive. Light tan, fine creamy head....shrinks down to a thin, lasting layer, with nice lacing. Nose had a bit of caramel aroma, plenty of hops, as well as a buttery lean to it. Both body and smoothness on the tongue were above medium...nice mouthfeel!! Taste starts out with mild malt, some caramel and is a tinge toasty. Good dose of hops from mid-sip to the finish, with a buttery character as well. Very nice bier!! Thnx, JP.

overall: 4.05
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4

*** ***

Original review - Nice dark copper color, with a mild hoppy nose. Touch of sweetness to the hop finish...nice bier to quaff...prosit!! (09Jan02 - 4.0/3.0/4.0/4.0/4.0 = 3.80)


 814 characters

Photo of Murph
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful, clear, semi-dark, bright amber color with a creamy tan head on top that sinks a bit too quickly and leaves a nice heavy film on top for lacing the glass. Sweet caramel maltiness with just a touch of biscuity malt characteristics and the subtlest earthy hops. Sweet caramel malt characteristics have a big presence on the tongue. Faint bitterness rides on the back of this brew from the halfway point through to the end and lingers slightly on the tongue. Not an overly complicated flavor profile but there is plenty of it and it is certainly more than enough to get you through a nice cold winter night. The brew carries the velvety smooth mouthfeel that all Shipyard brews seem to have witha medium-heavy body that makes it fun to drink. A great winter seasonal and a New England classic. I am always glad to be able to drink some of this brew.
Thanks to StevieW for helping me get some of this fine brew.

 926 characters

Photo of Viking
4.3/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear, dark amber body with faint trails of CO2. Moderate cream-colored head, fading rather quickly into a very fine lace. Smell is malty and a bit vinous, plenty of spicy hops. Nice rich spicy hop flavor over a base of bready caramel malt (which becomes more and more prominent as teh beer warms). Rather dry, spicy finish with a lingering taste of bready caramel malt and a hint of fruit (apple or cherry? something in between? I couldn't quite decide). Surprisingly rough mouthfeel. Overall, a pretty tasty brew and an excellent winter beer.

Special thanks to pbrian for sending this one my way.

 609 characters

Photo of MJR
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a reddish-amber color with perfect clarity. A bubbly, tan head starts off a decent size, but shrinks down to a small cap.

Smell: Toasted malt aroma with a bit of fruit and spice complexity. A faint hop smell lingers in the background. Perhaps a touch of alcohol too.

Taste: Starts sweet, with a fruity character, then opens up with a toasted, spicy note with a burst of alcohol. Finishes with hop bitterness and a burnt/roasted flavor. Not bad...but the alcohol could be hidden a little better. I think it suffers from a lack of balance, as many different flavors fight for attention all at the same time. Need some work...

Mouthfeel: Fairly thin in the mouth with a spicy, dry mouthfeel. The aftertaste makes me feel like I've just gargled with grain alcohol...I don't like that.

Drinkability: While it's not a bad brew, this one could definitely use some work, as everything seems all out of wack. I'm gonna have to struggle a bit to finish this one...

 984 characters

Photo of maxpower
3/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours clear brown-copper color, has an average white lasting head, light malty caremel, nutty aroma. Malty flavors of candy caremel and nuts, has some strange off flavors, mabye a bit unbalanced, light body, with the hops noticable in the finish, not all that great, some doesn't seem right.

 291 characters

Photo of kelticblood
3.12/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a soapy looking head with minimal white lace.The color was a dark red.The smell is very acidic and malty with a floral hop hint.The taste is extremely malty with a roasted finish.Alcohol is noticed immediately and all throughout the mouthfeel which makes it kind of harsh.Nothing really stands out as far as the taste is concerned.Leaves a dry feeling on the pallate.A touch of cherries is noted on the finish.Not really impressed here.Very average and boring.Needs some work to make me buy this again.

 509 characters

Photo of CharlesRiver
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reddish-brown in color with a small off-white head that didn't last long. The smell is a nice balance of hops and malt. The taste is similar in terms of balance but a bit more complex. The hops take over a bit in the end for a nice bite. It reminds me a lot of Youngs Old Nick Barley Wine Style Ale but better. This beer would do well with a bit more ageing.

 358 characters

Photo of aracauna
3.31/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dry grainy head, made fizzy noises but lasted. The body is the color of cherry stain or medium-dark sweet tea. Toasty malt aroma some unidentifiable funkiness. The flavor incorporates the caramel and toasty malt flavors with this unusual flavor that reminds me of Sweetwater Festive Ale. I had attributed the flavor to mace, which is one of the spices in Festive Ale, but I'm not so sure this one is spiced. Maybe it's the butterscotch flavor of the infamous Ringwood yeast, but I didn't know Sweetwater used that yeast for Festive Ale so I'm confused. There's a bit of slighty citric hops underneath all this that breaks up the malt-funk party a bit.

 651 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.8/5  rDev +27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A deep mahogany body with soft ruby highlights is capped by a firm light tan head that holds quite well and leaves some nice lace. When served only lightly chilled, it will maintain a solid head as it warms. The aroma is of a sweet caramel & light chocolate malt, some mild spice, and butterscotch-like diacetyl that actually adds greatly to the character! Reminiscent of a rich holiday cake! Very nice. The body is full with a very fine and restrained carbonation that leaves it exceptionally creamy and smooth - almost syrupy as the carbonation breakout foams up under the warmth of the mouth. The flavor is rich with some limited ripe fruit upfront, coat-tailed by a biscuity maltiness that's slathered at first in caramel - and later in soft milk chocolate, a mild spiciness as it crosses that palate and then a firm butterscotch, some mineral-like & leafy hoppiness and an underlying bitterness in the finish. Long, lingering and almost as rich as the flavor itself - the aftertaste is massively impressive with swirling notes of caramel, butterscotch, drying bitterness and leafy hoppiness! Do yourself a favor and enjoy this at cellar temperature as a dessert beer. Fantastic! Absolutely worth seeking out as a special treat to be enjoyed with a good book in front of the hearth.

 1,286 characters

Shipyard Prelude Special Ale from Shipyard Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.