1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Shipyard Old Thumper - Shipyard Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Shipyard Old ThumperShipyard Old Thumper

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

696 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 380
rAvg: 3.59
pDev: 14.21%
Wants: 10
Gots: 33 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Shipyard Brewing Co. visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: xlperro on 03-02-2001)
View: Beers (46) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Shipyard Old Thumper Alström Bros
Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 380 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of garymuchow
4.05/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Complex enough of a brew that I had to do more than one sample.
Aaahh, the nose of diacetyl. Also fairly brief with darker malt notes.
Dark amber, approaching brown, but mostly dark orange. Medium to full tan to beige head that dissappates pretty quickly.
The taste of diacetyl too, with nice malt qualities and hop bitterness in the biginning and on the finish. Malt qualities include a bisquit character along with darker malt qualities and this increases in presence as beer warms. Feel is soft and fairly fluffy from carbonation and it's almost a stronger sensation than the taste. Enjoyed this more the warmer it became.

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

Had as a cask conditioned ale at the infamous Great Lost Bear. An orange/coppery brew with a big white head. Good lacing as it dissapeared.

The smell is of sweet malt and breads, with some light citrus in the background. The taste is superb. When I think of balanced ale this fits my defenition. Malty up front, with a slight hop/bitter taste in back. Moderate carbonation carries it through from end to end.

Very drinkable, especially the cask conditioned variety. Another Shipyard wnner.

Photo of Loki
3.78/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled from a cask in an traditional pint glass.

Well color me disappointed. I walked in and order this without even looking at what else they had. After all I liked Old Thumper in the bottle, and it was cask conditioned so it had to be better. Right?

It was served a dark copper, almost antique bronze color with a white head that faded way to quickly. Great lacing throughout the entire beer. Looked like Mountain ranges viewed from a top another mountain. You could see the lower and upper ranges. Had the head retention been better this would have scored perfectly.

The aromas were very muted. I picked up malt, cask, earth, and some very mild hops.

The taste was sweet malt, then a bit watery, then dry cask, earth, a little more malt, with a dry finish. It was a little plain. Medium bodied and some what clean finish. But a little plain and a little disappointing. Maybe my expectations were too high.

Photo of longpondbeerman
4.38/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ahhh, a fine bitter ale with a slightly buttery mouthfeel. This dark, golden-amber ale from the good old Portland Shipyard may be their best brew; it is complex and tantalizing, from the ringwood yeast taste (very full) which balances off the citrusy hops to the toffee finish edged with just the right slice of bitterness, there's a lot to like about this ale. Thankfully, it's a local favorite for me; I'll be having more of this.

Photo of moulefrite
4.38/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried just before trying Fuller's ESB which I loved. I must say though that this was a damn good eample of the style. The beer poured a nice golden caramel and sported a thick pillowey head. Aromas of malt extract, hop and bisquit were at the forefront. A rich yet velvety ale that slides down the old gullet with ease. An extracted, malted milk sort of sweetness coats the tongue and mouth-I love the flavor of malt!! As the beer warms it takes on an even larger malt persona. A very drinkable number with some citric hoppiness way in the background evening things out. Nice!

Photo of BierReise
4.3/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served cask conditioned at the Wharf Pub in Newport RI. I had this about six years ago here at this very same pub and was completely delighted to find them still serving it. This ale is quite a treat conditioned. Slightly hazy and deep amber in color with a creamy white head. Aroma is as complex as its flavor, a bit musky, grainy and earthy with a delicious maltiness and slightly bitter. Super smooth and creamy body that glides down your throat like butter. So smooth and delicious that I had finished 3 pints in less than a half hour. Hope they have it when I return again someday.

Photo of Darkale
4.03/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, dark bronze body with a tight, cream-colored head. Mild aroma, smells faintly of fruit. Not very strong; would have liked a stronger aroma. Sweet in the mouth at first, then dry, astringent and a tad bitter. Slightly chewy and round. Aftertaste is like burnt caramel, almost smoky. An interesting beer. I have not much experience with ESBs, and this beer suggests that I ought to.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A clear, orange-ish/copper body displays dozens of streams of tiny bubbles rising steadily towards its creamy off-white head. The retention is great, and it maintains a short creamy cap throughout the entire pint; as well as leaving some nice lace. The nose displays the typical Ringwood yeast signature of gentle buttery diacetyl amidst a caramelish malt and some earthy hops. It's quite pleasant and welcomes you back to the pint with each ensuing sip. It's lightly crisp but also mildly creamy in the mouth due to it's fine and moderate carbonation and light/medium body. The flavor delivers a mildly buttery, nutty, and caramel/toffee-ish malt upfront; followed by a quick flash of fruit and then some more nuttiness. Earthy hops emerge (must be Fuggles!) towards the swallow as the bitterness rises. It finishes dry with some ligering earthy hop amidst a wide but low-key bitterness and some residual buttery biscuit-like malt. It's very well-balanced with a firm bitterness that keeps it from becoming cloying, yet allows the malt character to come through clearly.Well done! For those who find a touch of buttery diacetyl pleasing, this is a great session ale (with the exception of it's slightly high alcohol at 5.7%).

Photo of clvand0
3.3/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours an amber color with a creamy white head and moderate lacing on the glass. The aroma is sweet and slightly fruity. The taste is very full of caramel and pretty smooth. There is a slight hint of alcohol in the flavor and also a little fruit is also evident. The taste has a very warm feel even when the beer is cold. I would recommend trying this one.

Photo of tavernjef
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is a amber with slight chill haze with slow bubbly carbonation inside, a thin off-white head that faded fast and minimal lacing in spots. Smell is sweet caramel malt, lightly earthed, nice fruity esters and a light hoppy backing. Taste is crispy with a caramel creamyness following with a small warmth of alcohol and fruity esters get involved leading into some toasty biscuit and breadish sweet grain, a touch of fruitiness from some loosely layered hop bitterness. Finish is a balancing act of lingering aftertastes of dry, lightly piney and very light fruity hoppyness. Quite interesting little finish. Feel is medium bodied with a play of slight roughness in the front with a bit of creamyness and chewyness into the light dry playful finish. Seems to smooth out as it warms. Drinkable ESB, but its not all that "Extra Special" but would make for a good session beer.

Photo of charlesw
4.75/5  rDev +32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed a nice Old Thumper on tap last night at Fore Street... Mmm! I'd previously sampled the beer in bottles, but on tap it was really something special!

It was a bit dark, so it's hard to tell too much about the appearance... Dark coppery is the best I could tell. Pretty darned clear. The pour was suboptimal, so I can't say too much about the head, either, as there was only a hint of it around the edges of the glass when I got it. (Might it have been cask-conditioned? Hmm. I could give them a call and ask...)

Ah, but let's skip straight to the taste without passing by the aroma... Ahhh! Fantastic! (Ok, taste and mouthfeel...) Very creamy - smooth - buttery (buttery texture, not flavor, eh?)! A good strong, complex malt flavor that was all over the back of the tongue. (Reading down a bit in reviews I can call some of this butterscotch which apparently is all about diacetyl... Yummy! Creamy!) A very very light hint of hoppy bitterness to it. Very smooth and gentle aftertaste (not gaining in power or complexity - just gently fading out).

This is the first beer I've had in a really long time where I just couldn't stop saying, "Wow!" with every sip!

Now, how does it fit in with the style of an ESB? I'll have to try it again a few times to make sure :) It might be just a tad malty for an ESB - I'll have to think about it...

(Fore Street is a fine bar/restaurant in which to sample this little delight!)

Photo of Greenlabel
4.33/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A fine interpretation by Shipyard of an English Best Bitter. Pours an amber color with a lasting head. The impact of the Ringwood yeast is not as dominant as in some of the Shipyard brews. The overall texture of the product is very smooth with some definite fruit overtones and a somewhat hoppy finish. No unpleasant aftertaste. This product seems to be getting a wider distribution these days and I now see it available in 12-packs as well as 6-packs. Well worth the premium price of a micro.

Photo of marc77
4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Clear bronze hue. Thin, light cream white head leaves lace. Earthy hops along with a buttery toffee like caramel malt and diacetyl combination dominate the aroma. Mild figgy esters and notes of dilute molasses drizzled bready malt are secondary, while an agreeable hint of sweet, nutty marzipan emerges as the beer breathes. Brief snap of bread crust sweetness in flavor is quickly washed by buttery rich toffee and faintly roasty dark lovibind caramel malt. Becomes distinctly nut driven mid palate, with soft notes of almonds and peanuts lending a mildly sugary, brittle impression. Earthy, slightly dirty, Fuggles hop flavor. Fruit esters surface late and are comprised of ripe dates and sweet figs. Hop bitterness is mild, and allow malt character to dominate, but residual sweetness never becomes cloying. A touch lightly bodied, with an oily, but thinnish and passably dextrinous mouthfeel. Finishes with a lingering suggestion of burnt bread and butter. Almost spot on for an ESB. Heavy on the diacetyl, yet well integrated in that respect. Malt driven and very tasty. Thanks Mainebeerman!

Photo of bmills1608
4.25/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I grabbed this almost as an after thought just to fill out my six pack of singles. It had a cool name and I see on the label 'Ringwood Brewery'. I have been intrigued about the ringwood yeast strain as it seems to produce a love it or hate it kind of flavor - heavy diacetyl, which I happen to like quite a bit. I am sure glad I did pick it up.

Poured a light amber color with excellent clarity. Smallish head fades fast, leaves a bit of lace. On the nose is butterscotch (diacetyl) and lots of it. Smell rich, sweet and inviting. I love that smell. For a second there I thought I was nosing a S. Smith Winter Welcome. Heaps of richness on the nose.

Taste is full and buttery all the way, very doughy with hints of caramel malts. Bitterness is low but enough to balance. My guess is they use some variety of British hop, as it tasted to me to be on the herbal/floral side of the hop fence. The finish of this beer is quite nice, very long, mouthcoating richness. While this beer is 'rich' in flavor, it still remained highly drinkable. The carbonation was tight and hard, a bit too fine I thought. Mouthfeel was velvety.

This beer was a big hit with me for a very specific reason. The overall impression for me was British, very British. I have been trying to find an American pale ale/bitter that captures a specific "British ale" flavor that I personally have in my head and have yet to find a close match until Old Thumper. Great job here.

Photo of shirfan
3.33/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Fluffy, retentive off-white head tops off a clear copper-hued brew.

Smell is thick and sweet malt, with fruit aromas.

Taste doesn't match the nose at all. Dusty, floury yeast plays havoc with what could be an otherwise fine session ale. The boar on the bottle is a harbinger of the bore in the bottle.

Biscuit-like malt flavor, hints of fruit, noticeable but not overpowering sour diactyl. A dry and slightly bitter finish. For some reason, this got much better when I paired it with a bowl of tomato rotini....I'm guessing the acidic content of the sauce helped balance things out.

Not bad with a meal, but I wouldn't seek this out again as something to enjoy by itself.

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On my first encounter with this ale, my judgements were rather harsh. As the word "Old" This or That is most often used in the names of barleywines and imperial stouts, and with such a menacing boar fiercely glaring on the label, I'd been geared for something exciting. I was let down to say the least. But bottle #2 was taken in more judiciously.
Amber color, small off-white head. Aroma: nutty and malty, caramelly, traces of vegetal notes, and sweet, overall. Taste is nice, body light/medium, and residual sweetness rides through the finish. Good malt taste, but I couldn't pick up on any hop activity at all. It's called "Extra Special Ale", is it meant as a slightly tastier ESB?
Quite drinkable, and an easy candidate for a session brew, but lacking in any zip or zing that would make it a choice for me.

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

Brownish copper color with an off-white head. Attractive color, but not much head.
Aroma is earthy. Toasted malts and hops.

Taste of toasty, caramel malts. Well bittered. Nice level of bitterness throughout that really hits at the finish.

Good mouthfeel.
Good drinkability.

Overall a good bitter. Sampled this at the Orlando Airport and found it to be quite enjoyable.

Photo of bditty187
4.15/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tawny coppery-bronze hue, translucent, little animation, off-white head, over a finger’s worth, excellent retention, plenty of lace. Pleasant nose (not very potent), earthy, fruity, some hops influence, malty. Intriguing palate, sweet, earthy, major Ringwood yeast influence… buttery, fruity, somewhat grainy, the hops bitterness is an almost perfect accomplice. Medium-light body, the low carbonation helps produce a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Dry, grainy finish with a buttery aftertaste… some bitterness too. Old Thumper is balanced, tasty, and proof that an ESB doesn’t have to be “hop-heavy.” Very drinkable. This beer is recommended.

Thank you, StevieW for the awesome brew.

Photo of BeerBuilder
3.7/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one pours to a copper color with an off-white head. The aromas are of caramel malt, light hops, and breadiness. The flavor is caramel malts with a bit of fruity hops. The beer is light-medium in body, easy drinking and well balanced. Not a bad brew.

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.2/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Easily the best American interpretation of a real English Ale. Has that biscuity malt aftertast, somewhat dry and bitter. Nice, creamy mouthfeel. English Ales aren't generally my favorites, but this is as good as most I've had. Pours a decent head, but fades almost entirely. Even though this beer has a "full" taste, it is actually somewhat thin. All in all, however, a real nice tasting ale.

Photo of Dogbrick
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draught in the terminal of the Orlando airport. One of the more entertaining names for a beer I have seen lately. Pours a light amber color with a thin white head. Nice lacing. Aroma is malty with a nice fruit bouquet. Buttery caramel malt flavor was nicely sweet over a medium body. Very light hops in the finish. Not too complex but solid.

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.22/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have a special place in my heart for Shipyard, it was the first craft brew brewery I was introduced to. When I was younger Old Thumper was not as apealing, but over the years I have grown to love it. It pours a very light copper color with little carbonation bubbles. The head is very yellowish and it recedes very quickly leaving some more white color lace on the side of the glass. The smell was very buttery with scent of hops and bitter. The taste had some unsweet caramel and the Ringwood was extremely prevelant. My mother always used to say that Old Thumper tasted like a rope from a ship and I feel that for this "extra special" bitter it is a huge compliment. Its bit is huge and distinct.

Photo of ADR
4.03/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear bright amber appearance, head settles to a skim within 40 seconds and leaves scant lace on the pint glass. Brown sugar and maple malty aromas with cinnamon notes. Quite a bit of smooth caramel and more maple in the taste, a little diacetyl mid mouth, and an astringent and well-balanced hoppy close. Finish is slightly lemony with elements of baking spices. Impressively balanced and drinkable, perhaps slightly more body and mouthfeel is in order. Overall, this is a pretty nice Extra Special Bitter...

Photo of Bighuge
4.15/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best Before July, 2003.

Beautiful clear copper color. A thin off-white head actuall sticks around for awhile. The lacing is minimal, but adequate. The aroma is dry, woody, buttery and fruity. Not bad at all. This beer has a nice body to it. Medium-full. And carbonated on the low end of the spectrum making more drinkable and more like a cask serving. It turns out that the nose was a good indicator of what was about to happen on the palete. Woody. Cedar-like dryness. Fruity to an extent (apples?). And nice and bitter. It's not an IBU monster, but the bitterness is apparant and nice. And the buttery/butterscotch characteristic is present as well in small doses. The lingering bitterness keeps begging me to drink more and more....

Photo of mzwolinski
4.47/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear, light copper in color, with a thin, off-white head. Aroma of caramely malt, sweet and toffee-like, with a bit of a fruity boquet. Somewhat toasty malt flavor, with an apple-like fruitiness mid-palate, followed by a nice earthy bitter finish. Ringwood yeast really lends an interesting character to the finish/aftertaste. A good beer -- rather like a slightly beefed-up English pale.

Shipyard Old Thumper from Shipyard Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.