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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: 14
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 kawilliams81
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass.

A- Light amber with a 2 finger tan head. Good lacing and clumping on the glass.

S- Sweet dark fruits, toasted malts, spices.

T- Sweet malts, dark fruits, slight smoke or peated malt flavor in there. Slightly bitter finish but not a lot of hops going on.

M- Medium body. Little thin but drinks well. Slightly dry finish.

O- Tasty beer. Not a style that I have a lot of experience with, but sure I will have more over the next few months.

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Photo of bnes09
3.49/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark amber brown in color. Fairly weak head with some lacing.

Toasty aroma of roasted nuts, toffee and caramel.

Malt flavor is pretty bold with wheat toast, caramel sweetness and almonds. Herbal hop. Spicy mid-drink into aftertaste. Ginger vs. nutmeg. Odd oak finish that tastes old and musty.

Medium bodied. Good carbonation. Dry in the end.

Descent. A little rough around the edges but a good starting point for a winter brew.

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Photo of Cadebro
3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours deep red with a white head.

S - Smells of biscuit, spice and brown sugar.

T - Tastes of molasses, brown sugar and cloves. Has a young, over-sweetened flavor. Finishes with a hint of bitter hops.

M - Mild carbonation, sticky and a bit heavy in body.

D - The first craft beer that I fell in love with. Too heavy and sweet to drink more than one or two.

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Photo of fdkayti
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- A frothy white head sits atop a nice amber red beer. Very lovely head retention and lacing cheers a girl right up.

S- Sweet, nutty bread, like something you'd eat on Christmas morning. Cinnamon and other spice notes linger and stick to the nose.

T- Malty sweet. Vanilla, banana, and a plethora of spices really do it for me. A little hoppiness towards the end of the swallow. Booziness is minimal but still present.

MF- A sticky feel on the tongue is accentuated by bursts of carbonation bubbles. I really enjoy drinking this, and the mouthfeel is a big part of it.

O/D- Not knowing what to expect from this style, I must say I am pleasantly surprised. The dwindling supply in my fridge prompted me to say mmm, that sounds good, I think I'll have that, and I'm glad I finally did. Nicely suited to a chilly day, this style makes the knowledge of the inevitable winter freeze almost tolerable. A thank you to duff27.

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Photo of Duff27
3.61/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Inch tall off white head on a clear red beer. Excellent lacing and head retention. A wonderful looking beer!

S- Caramel malts, cinnamon, bread.

T- Sweet, touch of spice, toasted malts. "Raisins." Leaves a lingering taste in the mouth, unique. Drinks it's weight in booze.

M- Well carbonated, bubbles expand filling the mouth.

D/O- I can understand why this would be a polarizing beer. Drank out of season but I'm sure it's held up none-the-less, nothing gone wrong about it. Would have again in the future but probably not more than one in a single sitting.

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A leftover from Winter 2010/11

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A-Deep amber with ruddy orange highlights and a thick sudsy light tan head that laces nicely. Attractive brew.

S-Bananna, clove, nutmeg, ringwood yeast and bready malts.

T-Roasted bready malts. A hint of clove and chocolate and a bit of citrus comes out near the finish, which is lingering and astringent with a wee bit of a hop bite.

M-decent mouthfeel. I'd like to see this a tad heavier, but it is fine.

O-Good beer for Shipyard. Decent warmer, but there are so many better ones out there. I'd like to see this a bit more aggressively spiced.

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Photo of JNewbs
3.32/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance was fairly typical of the style. Dark, mahogany brown with hints of red in the light. Not much of a head and no lacing to speak of.

Smell was spices and malt. Caramel?

Taste agrees. Caramel in high dosage. The flavor was ok at first but the sweetness and maltiness were unbalanced against the lack of hops and spices.

Mouthfeel started out ok, but what I seem to run into time and again with these overly malty beers is an odd finish with the maltiness not leaving me wanting another sip.

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Photo of schoolboy
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I don't know why on earth I was in the mood for a "winter warmer" on a day when I was hoping to wear nothing but a bathing suit, but I bought some today. It tastes somewhat wrong on a number of levels. Certainly we are not ready for Christmas in July in NE Ohio. Summer just started. But the brew has issues.

Perhaps this sat too long it the very warm Shorgate Beverage store on Lakeshore in Willowick, Ohio. It was in the ridge, but who knows, they could have put it there last night, and it is a very big store.

More likely the issue is with the combbo of yeast/hops/malts that makes up this brew, along with whatever else they do to it. It will not make it to my repeat list, but maybe I would feel more favorable to it in the correct season. Maybe I can pawn these off on my son.

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Photo of nataku00
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle (best before date of Nov '11) poured into a tulip glass. A winter warmer right after the summer solstice! Beer pours a clear dark reddish brown, mahogany maybe, with a half a finger of egg shell white colored, soapy head. Head dissipates quickly to a thin collar along the edge of the glass with no lacing. A decent amount of small bubbles slowly rising near the edge of the glass.

Nose is light spices, cinnamon, anise, clove, toasted malt with a slight edge of cardboard like staleness, and caramel. Some dark fruits come out as it warms a little, raisins mainly. Really similar to a doppelbock.

Follows the nose pretty closely. Light spices, dark fruit, toasted malts, stale cardboard and bread, and a touch of caramel sweetness on the finish.

Light to medium body with some soft carbonation that helps stimulate the taste buds. Pretty light for a winter warmer in terms of body and alcohol content.

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Photo of magine
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic.

Pours a somewhat hazy tea like deep amber. Has a thick fluffy off white head. The head settles to a nice thick layered island and leaves some nice sticky lacing. Good rim of lace as well. Good looking brew.

Brew smells of sweet caramel, roasted nut, chocolate as well. Also can detect a nice citrus and grapefruit like hop. Good smelling brew.

Brew is smooth and rich; creamy and balanced. Sweet creamy caramel barley malts. Roasted nut and some hints of chocolate as well. Brew finishes a little hoppy; grapefruit maybe. Nice smooth minimally dry finish. Lots of flavors working greeat together here. Very good tasting brew.

Wow, very nice winter warmer. A truly sessionable brew at nearly 7% alcohol. Nice flavor profiles; malts in the middle hops in the end. Lots of flavors and lots of goodness here. Case worthy stuff. I have only had a few from Shipyard, I suspect this may be their best offering.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - good looking caramel, iced tea amber. Good clarity and a nice little cap of off-white that is quite resilient for its thinness.

Aroma - a slight note of butter, caramelly malts.

Taste - pleasant toastiness up front. The mild sweetness is pushed aside mid-palate by some astringent but not overly pushy hops. These were more medicinal at Christmas but a few months have softened them a bit. Still a little biting with a light raw edge but better balanced with a few extra months on it. A sweeter finish, the malts having last say.

Mouthfeel - good smoothness, sturdy body and moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - I like the malty side more than the hoppy side of this one.

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Photo of bgildea
4.12/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark amber color with a nice white head that leaves a good amount of lacing.

S: Smells strongly of earthy tones. Notes of oak, berries, nuts and roasted malts.

T: The flavor starts with a roasted malt flavor with hints of nuts. The flavor then moves into a sweeter flavor of some berries and maybe some yeast. The flavor finishes with a slight bittery taste that blends well with the rest of the flavors. Overall, it was complex and enjoyable.

M: Relatively thin beer. Wasn't expecting too much chew to it so I wasn't disappointed.

Overall: Overall the beer was better than I expected. The beer has a great smell and nice complex flavor that moves from roasted flavor to a sweeter flavor and finishes with a nice bitter aftertaste. I definitely recommend trying this beer.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"Anger is a prelude to courage."

--Eric Hoffer

Georgia clay with bonfire orange highlights and a capable enough crown of golden khaki colored foam that develops deep divots as it descends. Several lonely scraps of suds are the only glass decoration.

The nose is lightly butterscotch-like (classic Ringwood yeast diacetyl) and lightly toasted bready, with more maltiness than hoppiness. Chocolate and roasted malt could not have been added with a very heavy hand. No spices are appreciated.

Prelude Special Ale is classic Shipyard in that it's buttery and tastes vaguely English. The hop bill include a Yank (Cascade), A German (Tettnang) and two Brits (Fuggles, Goldings). There's still a fair amount of hoppiness, which isn't that surprising since this past winter is still visible in the seasonal rearview mirror.

The darker malts still aren't adding much. Prelude is crystal malt-dominant and is nicely balanced in terms of sweet and bitter. The hops add an earthy-herbal-spiciness that gives the beer a winter warmer vibe without having to rely on added spices. PSA is different and interesting... and just good enough to deserve the higher of the two considered taste scores.

Too bad the mouthfeel took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. It's too thin for the style/ABV and the bubbles are both harsh and poorly buried within the liquid. There's definite work to be done here.

Prelude Special Ale, despite not being *special* beer, is one of SBC's better efforts. A better mouthfeel would not have increased the scores on either side of it, but it would have made this a more enjoyable experience. Worth a single each winter.

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Photo of mdcrouser
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks pretty substantial, holidng true at brown/deep ruby red, with snowcaps of off-white head marking the top.

Raisins, rum, spices, vanilla - it's like a pint glass of holiday home.

Malty sweetness is decorated with hints of gingerbread, sugars, and boughs of evergreen, with just a hint of alcohol hiding behind the tree. The hoppiness is understated, but seems to come on towards the end.

Sticky and sugary - pretty sure if I stuck my tongue out, sugary crystals would form. A good exhale follows this beer.

Great for winter - warming and satisfying, without being over-bearing.

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Photo of batty
4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bought and drank cambridge, ma - feb 2011

A: ruby tinging on brown, or brown tinging on ruby. pale tan khaki head, fairly creamy, small-bubble head which unfortunately fades pretty quick, leaves decent lace though

smells a little buttery which i'm not a big fan of, but it's not overbearing. malt also present, minimal hop

taste is really the highlight here - strong maltiness with hints of dark fruit, balanced nicely with some spicy hop notes and just a touch of roast.

nice mouthfeel, smooth,

excellent winter, great price, hits the spot every time. full flavor but still 'sessionable'

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

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Best enjoyed before date printed on the label.

Appearance: Clear, dark maple color that appears burgundy when held to light. Maintains a one finger chunky head. Thin, sticky, and chunky lacing is present throughout.

Smell: This brew smells of malty butterscotch, toffee, nuts, and caramel with notes of fruitcake, baked only with dark fruits. Slight boozy scent about it. The nose is absent of hops.

Taste: Toffee, chocolate, cherry and raisin upon the arrival and a lingering hoppy finish. Overall, the malts dominate this beer. However, there are enough hops present to balance it all out. There is alcohol prominent in the taste. Lasting dark fruit finish. Very nice boozy winter ale. Delightfully complex.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation. Very smooth.

Drinkability: Despite being full bodied, this beer doesn't set heavy on the stomach at all. Easy to drink, although I don't plan on chugging one in the future.

Ending notes: I was actually impressed with this brew from Shipyard. Very nice balance. It's a great beer to warm up with on a winter night after working all day long. Quite enjoyable. I would get this one again.

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

The color is a sort of deep brownish-red with a touch of a lighter bronze in the light. This brew forms a sizeable and well-retained off-white head that leaves good lacing in pathces well down the glass.
Aromas are backed mostly by malts with a light balance of hops, which in my opinion is best for what a winter warmer should be attempting. There's definitely some diacetly at play, but it seems to be intentional, playing off notes of chocolate and grains, perhaps a touch of caramel, and adding a bit of balance to some fruit flavors as well.
Fruits come out stronger in the flavor; some notes of sweet, dark fruits like cherry. Caramel and butterscotch add to the sweetness without cloying and are expertly balanced by just enough floral and citic hops bitterness to keep it in check. Malts are strong and consistent all the way through, and a variety makes for nice complexity. Well done.
The mouthfeel is fairly rich and full without being too heavy, carbonated at just about the right level and chewy most of the way through. The finish is long and smooth.
This may be the best of the style I've tried, and my new go-to winter warmer.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.23/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle served in a standard pint glass. No freshness dating indicated on the bottle, but definitely the 2010 batch. Pours a translucent mahogany with a loose, quarter inch, tan-colored head. Head dissipates into a consistent skim across the surface. Some swaths of lacing present during the tasting. Nose is nutty and somewhat consistent with an English Nut Brown; however, there's also a trace of skunk and some caramel and toffee notes. Taste follows nose - skunky quality is a little more forthcoming in the flavor profile. There's also a trace of spice in the mix, perhaps nutmeg, as well as another quality I can't quite tease out - maybe some form of dark fruit. Mouthfeel is light-medium, with a consistent carbonation, some creaminess and a slight acidity. The skunk to this beer really kills it for me. I can drink maybe one in a sitting and it's not terrible, but that off flavor hangs around. Not something I need to revisit anytime soon.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown color with a 1/2 finger head. Decent retention. Decent lacing.

S: Very nutty, also some dark fruits (raisins and cherries), some vanilla, and a little bit of alcohol.

T: Definitely malty, the dark fruits come to the front on the flavor profile with the raisins, also get some brown sugar and molasses. A touch of vanilla as well.

M/D: Medium bodied, but on the thicker side. Overall, pretty good. The only thing it has going against it was the presence of the alcohol. I like a little bit of heat in my winter warmers, but a little less here would have done the trick for me. Some nice flavors and a solid beer.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice ruby red with a tiny head. Leaves decent lacing

S: Malt and licorice with some chocolate and nut

T: Pretty much the same as the smell, the nut comes out especially towards the end

M: Medium bodied with medium-high carbonation

D: I've sessioned this beer more than a few times. Drink a sixer and you'll be gone for the night. Easy to drink, and the alcohol sneaks up on you big time

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear chestnut color with a tight, off-white head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of caramel malts. Some diacetyl also is present

Tastes of the heavy malts. Malts are characterized by toasted bread with caramel and fruits. A touch more roast comes in the middle and adds a chocolate note. Ends with a leafy hop character. Diacetyl is present but fairly mild and gives a butterscotch note as well.

Mouthfeel is medium-light with a smooth amount of carbonation.

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Photo of Nerudamann
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass.

Look - Reddish in color, clear, with about two fingers of slightly dark off-white colored foam that disspiates slowly. Very good carbonation.

Smell - malty, slightly nut-flavored. Bit of sweetness to the smell like that from a touch of caramel.

Taste and Mouthfeel - very unique flavor! Almost like a Belgian strong pale ale, but not quite that bitter. Starts off a bit musky in the front of the palate but soon moves to a slight bitterness in the back of the palate. Aftertaste is a bit like the smell of the hops..basically the hops without the bitterness. Texture is well-balanced, but leans slightly more toward the creamy side.

Drinkability - superb brew here. Very interesting taste/complexity throughout. Very drinkable.

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Photo of Fernans
4.75/5  rDev +26%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This suprised me. Has beginnings of a malty, nut brown but shows some hops in the finish. Color is dark amber. Smell raisins, some earthiness. Taste, slight sweet malty, with some floral hints when the hops hit. Smooth mouthfeel, lingers in a good way. Very well put together. Great winter brew.

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Photo of beergod1
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark translucent brown with a medium sized tan head. Smells hoppy with a bit of sweet malt and spice. Tastes like Winter. Toasty with hops, hints of coffee. Thick, sticky mouth feel. Finishes with an "Earthy" feel, I get from shipyard brew's.
Not bad. But clearly not one of my favorites.

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Photo of BMackall
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Picked this up in Boston while home for the holidays in a mixed six pack of local brews. Really tired from the plane ride from CO, so I took a couple sips before pouring, please forgive me!

Pours a clear brown/amber, almost like a dark rum or an aged whiskey, with a lively but smallish (one pinky finger) head that dissapates fairly rapidly. Lacing is nonexistant.

The smell is at first distinctively caramel and toast, with an afterthought of vanilla. Hop presence is almost nonexistant in the smell here. Overall pretty nice, but not terribly complex. Basically just smells exactly like I would expect a Fat Tire or something to smell.

Mouthfeel is medium to light, not really thin but quite light and smooth with medium to high carbonation: somewhat surprising considering the malt content and style of the beer. The taste is at first toasty and caramely with some vanilla and oak (interesting...). It's very true to the bouquet, but not overly sweet; almost like a very toasty amber ale of the Fat Tire variety. Though the hops weren't very present on the nose they definitely show some crispness in the transition, with a small amount of lingering bitterness.

For people who like bocks, ambers, etc. this is a very drinkable beer. I feel fairly confident that I could down a 6-pack.

Only just drinking this now, but it would probably go very well with a baked brie or other such holiday decadence. Overall, I really do like this beer, though the "special" label kind of fails to impress me. I was expecting a complex holiday ESB or old ale or something of the like. Not overly complex, sure, but it's quite pleasing. My overall impression of this beer is of a very well done amber ale, possibly leaning towards the more ESB side of the spectrum.

*Revision* - having read other review that mention chocolate and an earthy quality to the hop bitterness, I would have to agree, though the chocolate is verrrry subtle and only on the tail end of the transition. I would also say that what I mistook for vanilla and caramel in the bouquet may actually be more like butterscotch.

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