1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Shoals Pale AleSmuttynose Shoals Pale Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,343 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,343
Reviews: 656
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.23%
Wants: 28
Gots: 90 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-05-1998

Our interpretation of a classic English beer style is copper-colored, medium-bodied and pleasantly hopped. Its flavor is delightfully complex: tangy fruit at the start, with an assertive hop crispness and a long malty palate that one well-known beer writer has compared to the flavor of freshly-baked bread.

52 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,343 | Reviews: 656 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lstokes
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber with a pretty thin head, and the citrus hops are what stood out to me in the nose.

I thought this was a pretty bold pale ale, with lots of hops for the style--it had a nice tingly carbonation and bitterness that gave the drinking experience some momentum alongside the toasty malts--sort of a creamy-carbonated mouthfeel.

The finish was a little bit too bitter for me, but overall a very nice brew, exceptionally drinkable.

Photo of wheatyweiss
3.59/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle with a freshness date of April 09.

Pours a medum copper with a slight cloud. Nice rich head stays and laces very well.

Aroma is of copper and tannic acid. Iced tea with lemon. Floral and citric in the hop department. Malt is biscuity and like saltine crackers.

Flavor starts with toasty malt with a creamy rider. Malt is creamy and slightly buttery. Middle is hops, very light and citric, with a slightly amarillo tang, like musty pine cones. Grassy lewisite like flavors are prominent. Finishes dry and bittering with a piney earthy flavor.

Mouthfeel is rich and viscous. Carbonbation is adequate with a nice soft bubble feel to it. Good body.

Overall a nice American Pale, refreshing enough. Although I would have to say the diacetyl flavors made the beer taste slightly "off". Also I think te hops were a little too grassy. Although BJCP says it's wrong, I still liked the beer.

Photo of beermanWV
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I bought a 12 pack sampler of Smuttynose products. The sampler came with 3 Shoal's Pale Ales, three IPAs, three Old Brown Dog Ales, and 3 "brewer's choice" beers. I assume "brewer's choice" is much like "cooks choice" in the school cafeteria where you get whatever is left, but I will talk about how this brewer's choice was much more enjoyable than cafeteria food in a later review.

Light amber/dark orange in color. I love the unique design of a lot of the Smuttynose bottles, and Shoal's Pale Ale fits into that category. Some head retention with moderate head retention

Not a strong smelling beer. Floral hops with a crisp scent.

Could have been more balanced with a little more malt. Hops predominate with a bitter taste, but not overpowering.

Something minor seems off but I cannot put my finger on it. Maybe a fresher beer would solve the problem- the label on mine says best before April 2009 (the month I drank the beer). Not skunked at all, it just seems a little off for some reason.

Solid pale ale.

This is a unique pale ale. I like pale ales with a tad more balance with malt flavors, but this is a interesting pale ale. I would like to take a fresher Shoal's Pale Ale, perhaps one on draft.

Photo of bsend
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint.

Appearance: The beer poured a medium brown color with a nice white head. Light carbonation clung to the side of the glass. White specks of yeast floated throughout the glass. Holding it up to the light, we get a richer amber color.

Smell: Heavy wet hops backed with yeast. Pleasant but not spectacular.

Taste: Nice hop flavor moves into a nice light finish. No appearance of alcohol.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The beer plays well along the pallate. The medium body allows for both enjoyment of flavor and sessioning. A definite good choice for sessions.

Final Thoughts - This beer is another winner for Smuttynose Brewing Company. The beer has a good mix of flavor and session that makes this one easy to revisit.

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours slightly reddish brown with a beige head.

Nose is slightly toasty, a bit nutty, with a slightly citrusy, spicy hop character.

Taste is slightly toasty malt at the front, with piney hops emerging alongside a slightly bitter, breadcrusty malt note, that eventually gives way to a long, fairly bitter lingering resiny hop note on the back of the tongue. Fairly balanced and different, though the hops linger a bit too long for the flavor profile in my opinion.

Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.57/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Amber orange with not much head. What was there briefly was tan and fizzy.

This APA has a decent malt profile with the hops coming in second. Some nice flowery notes but not up front like others. Kind of a nicely balanced APA for a change. Taste is earthy malt and hops, really again a nice blend of the two with neither wanting to take center stage. The hops are piney in nature but turning fruity toward the middle and just a touch bitter for the finish. Nothing really lingers here at all.

Decent body not over-carbonated. A good drinkable APA that I could easily session. Wish I could get more of it.

Photo of emsroth
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

App: Dark copper, almost ruby, bordering on brown.

Smell: A slight sweet malt dominated by dank and sour, floral hops. Hints of alcohol tease the nose.

Taste: Greeted by a burst of carbonation. The middle is a sweet hop flavor. Next is an indescribable but most delectable malty sweetness. It ends with a decent hop bitterness.

Medium body. I'm content with one.

Smuttynose labels this as an "interpretation" of an english style. I think I was looking for more of an EPA, and this is much more of the APA as labeled above.

Photo of YesFest
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a Weizen Glass, light bronze under huge head from a hard pour. Cryptic lacing remains on the side of the glass like Charlotte's Web telling Templeton the rat about her favorite corn-dog and fried-refuse recipe.

Smell: Grassy malts, mild earthy sweetness.

Taste: HUGE malts and hoppy bitterness, quite shocking given mild nose. Impact settles down after a few sips and a quaff. Pungent backyard taste, woody, like a liquefied tree-house. Busy, but no sweetness. This is an American Pale Ale drinker's Pale Ale (hardly pale, though it is). Dark and bitter enough to be an ESB, and a particularly bitter one at that.

Mouthfeel: Appropriately thin. Adequately low carbonation. Not much coating, which is probably good for the drinkability here.

Drinkability: For being thin and light, the malts have quite a long ride down the tongue. Okay to quaff, probably a sipper for most, despite it's low abv. This must have been extremely fresh... I checked the website IBU's which say 30; I would have guessed maybe double that.

Not particularly smooth, but certainly full flavor. The combination of Cascade and Chinook hops aren't exactly my bag of tea, but it's definitely worth a swallow if that's what you're into...

Photo of bcastine
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the better bottled APA's out there IMHO. Great appearance with lasting head and lacing from top to bottom. Hoppy aroma packed with hints of citrus, taste is that of hops, lots of citrus,mainly grapefruit, really this tastes like a toned down version of Smuttynose's great IPA, except the shoals pale is much more sessionable, and does so without feeling weak. How Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale has higher scores on here is perplexing, as I don't feel it tastes half as good. This is a staple in my fridge.

Photo of waltonc
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours copper colored with white head. Smells and tastes of lots o' malts and floral hops. Not sure what kind of hops these are, but this doesn't taste like pine needles or grapefruit to me. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. Pretty drinkable, well-balanced pale ale.

Photo of JamesS
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice deepish copper color with some good initial head and a bit of decent lasting lacing. Good scent, very hoppy, nice slight citrus aroma with it, wafts up nicely if not as strong as it could be. Good taste, a little unbalanced; nice hops, some good American citrus tones, but an odd, almost English hoppiness, too, an odd mixture. Goes down fine, if not great. A good APA.

Photo of cjgator3
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

A- Best before Aug 09 notched on the label. 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber color with a nice off-white head that provides very nice lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is sweet malt, hints of caramel, and citrusy hops. The flavors open up nicely as the beer warms.

T- The taste features a solid malt backbone with some caramel and a very nice citric hop finish that leaves a nice lingering bitterness. There's a lot of flavor packed into this 5% ABV beer.

M- The mouthfeel is somewhere in between light and medium bodied with a perfect amount of carbonation and a really nice texture.

D- I'm surprised that this one is only 5% ABV, this one is packed with flavor but the low ABV keeps it pretty damn drinkable and would make for a nice session brew. This will definitely be one of my go-to beers in the future! Highly Recommended!

Photo of TheycallmeTim
3.89/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle best by June 09 into an American pint glass.

A--A little more red than caramel body with a soapy creamy white half finger head that, while smaller than expected, does retain well. Is it just me or does this seem a little dark given the style?

S--The best part to me: a little spicy and herbal with a malt kick, followed by some floral notes. Really quite varied for a pale ale, with serious hops in there for the style.

T--Good not great. Hops blossom early on with more sweetish floral notes which kind of crowd out the more herbal, earthy notes I liked from the nose. Malt is rock solid, crackery and full forward in the middle, then lingering on the finish a bit with some more doughy notes. Nice. My only bash would be the finish as a whole, which is both oddly astringent (the abv on this is way too low for that) and chalky/dusty. The latter may be because the bottle's a few months old, as there does seem to be a more tropical fruity flavor thing going on at the end that gets duked out by the overwhelming chalkdust, but still, we're well within the best by limits here. I've never had this on draft but have had better bottles--just bad luck that I pulled this one for the review, I guess.

M&D--Mouthfeel's fine, creamy and spot on for an APA. Drinkability's also fine, though fresher would be better (not that that isn't always the case).

The website says this is their version of the ESB. Um, ok...I don't see it, boys. I actually wouldn't mind if they scaled back the hops a bit on this one now that they have their (fantastic) IPA and this is no longer the hop bomb to today's tastes it was when introduced. One thing Smuttynose seems to lack in their arsenal--which is formidable--is a truly balanced ale. Americans can do it, I just know it--cf. Sierra Nevada's ESB.

Photo of mempath
4.8/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

i was NOT expecting much from this...i love craft brews and some are getting big and fancy...the smuttynose labels look a bit (charmingly) amateur. low tech. nice! but was quite surprised at every aspect of this brew.

pours nice and deep and cloudy and heady and lacey. ok. very nice...

smell is of cereal/malt but without sweetness...since i am expecting a lame-ish UK pale, i am not expecting hops.

taste shanghai'd me...a little more hopped up than i even though possible. not hophead bitter, but again, nice to see any sweetness receding in obesiance to the hops popping up like a swarm of nano-warriors. this simply BLOWS AWAY things like Stone Mill, Fiddlers Green...i expected this would be another weakling.

nice creamy roiling about in the mouth, carbonation is melded well and neither hides nor over-fizzles the flavors so well expressed and balanced.

quaffable by a mile. and savorable, too. i just didn't expect to be blown away by something that declares itself a simple 'pale ale'...i know IPA from smuttynose is supposed to be really nice (and better), but i am sold on THIS one. glad my local Total Wine carries this brewery's repertoire

there is something nearly perfect about this bottling. i don't know why it seems like a sam adams taken to perfection. need to revisit that one and compare...

Photo of nickfl
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - One and a half fingers of off white foam, settles quickly but leaves a nice layer of lace as it does. The body is a clear, amber-brown color.

S - Spicy, pine and citrus hops and a brown malty note to back it all up.

T - Both malt and strong hop bitterness up front, notes of rosemary and grapefruit. Malty flavors in the middle with toasted notes. The finish dominated by soapy bitterness and some vegetal hop flavors.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly dry, astringent finish.

D - A bit disappointing. The hop aroma is ok, but the flavor is bland and the bitterness is quite soapy. There is enough malt present to help keep it balanced, but it is too dark for an APA, and despite its darkness it is not complex. I wouldn't recommend this one.

Photo of scottbrew4u
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: A hard pour leaves a two finger light- tan head. Copper to amber in color with brilliant clarity. Good lacing as you drink this one.
S: Caramel and lightly burnt malt lay down and let a spicy herbal hop freshness come through. Some yeast in the aroma and a mellow bready smell.
T: Spicy hop character is fairly subdued but nice. Light roasted with light smack of honey and burnt caramel. Good compliment to the spicy and herbal hops. Malt has everything balanced. Some straw like grains in the aftertaste. Everything tastes fresh.
M: Medium to light body with moderate crisp carbonation. No alcohol warmth noticeable.
D: Very fine pale ale that has great flavor and easy drinking written all over it. Can easily have this as a session beer. Nice fresh flavor will not dissapoint beer lovers of all varieties.

Photo of everetends
3.59/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle I got out of a mixed twelve pack from Cheers Wine and Spirits in Carrollton, GA. Served up in a basic pint glass.

A: Pours a nice and deep brown/yellow color. Held to the light and a more rich yellowish copper comes out. The really crazy part of this beer is the head. Really poured a nice finger of white head that seems like it would have amazing retention if it wasn't so damned sticky. The head just sits on the glass and doesn't move once it has found a bare piece of glass. The beer is pretty clear as well. Damned good looking beer.

S: The smell is a bit weak for my liking. Mostly just getting some light sugary and biscuity malt. There is a touch of an earthy, grassy hops presence. Other than that, I'm not getting too much, and that is a bit disappointing since I have had such a love affair with Smuttynose so far.

T: Taste makes up for the smell though. There is a really nice malty goodness going here. The malt is sweet and bready, making this very nice and tasty. The hops come in nicely and overpower the malts just a touch, taking it that direction just slightly. There is a nice grapefruit rind going here along with some nice grassy goodness. There is a touch of resin like quality here as well. Tastes very nice.

M: Mouthfeel falls into the medium area, but the carbonation seems a bit off. This makes this just a bit heavier than most PAs in my opinion. ABV of course doesn't show up or play a factor. Aftertaste is mostly just a touch of resin that sits in the mouth, otherwise pretty clean.

D: This beer is pretty nice but its not what I expect from Smutty. The nose and feel could definitely be built up a bit. The look and taste are spot on and make this a nice drinker. Easy to crush a sixer of this, but I see it sitting a bit heavy without the bubbly carbonation though. Not bad though.

Photo of grayburn
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Copper pour with a finger head and nice lacing, I can tell how big my sips (or gulps) are with this beer.

Smells very faintly of hops and barley, light, refreshing smell

Excellent balance, this beer is just a tremendous example of an often over-hopped style. The malt and hops really blend amazingly well in this beer.

Decent mouthfeel, slight lingering bitter, a bit overcarbonated.

I could drink this beer daily, it is an excellent example of a session brew. Excellent job by Smuttynose, I have come to expect nothing less.

Photo of ProudBeerSnob
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Nice copper color, with a thin head that remained throughout the enjoyment of the pint and provided good lacing.

Not too much aroma going on, a little hops.

Taste is good for the style: a bready hop flavor or is it a hoppy bread flavor?

Not too thin in body as some APAs can be; very drinkable a good session beer.

A style that unfortunately gets botched by too many brewer as a weak, thin effort is done quite well by Smutty.

Photo of Duhast500
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is dark amber, with a nice foamy whiter head.

The smell is citrusy, some hints of lemon and maybe some orange. Also has a nice hop flavor as well.

The taste is sweet with touch of malt. Also a bit bitter some citrus flavor and some hops.

A good pale ale, goes down very easy and is quite tasty.

Photo of deaconoflove
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ap: Rich deep golden/amber hue, a little cloudiness. One finger head that shrank but hung on with nice lacing on the glass.
Sm: Hops and mild citrus.
Ta: Clear fresh hoppiness with strong pleasant grapefruit bitterness through the end.
Mf: medium to light body with some carbonation.
Dr: Very pleasant and refreshing, easy.

Photo of PatrickJR
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Dark amber with a slight haze. Nice, large, 3 finger off white head rises. Great retention with moderate lacing. Thick cap persists.

S - Grassy hops with some minor floral notes. I'm not picking up much of anything. Some citrus peel (grapefruit?) is hiding in the background.

T - Dominated by grapefruit peel. Grassy/floral notes from the nose are noticable but this stuff is lots and lots of grapefruit peel/juice. Grainy, barely perceptible malt jumps out a bit mid to late palate, but gives way quickly to a coarse, pith-like bitterness with touches of dirt and earth.

M - Light to medium body with very high carbonation. In fact, the carbonation is too high for my tastes. There's little room for any nuance to pull through and the prickliness adds to the rough and bitter finish.

D - Meh, overall I am not impressed with Shoal's Pale Ale. The hops aren't my cup of tea to begin with, but beyond that the brew finishes too harsh and bitter when I'm thining of a nice, quaffable pale ale. Carbonation is ENTIRELY too high as well.

Photo of MunchkinDrinker
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Cloudy amber with a thin white head. Lacing goes all the way down the glass.

S - A floral hoppiness and light malts come out right away. Inviting.

T/M - Hoppiness come over the top a little bit and overpower the other light. A few malts and some a slight sweetness make their way into the finish. If the tastes in the finish made their way into the rest, it would've been better IMO. Feels a little thin, but not really watery.

D - Very very drinkable. Goes down easily and very easy to drink alot of.

Photo of penguinjive7
3.57/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The pour is a hazy amber with about a half inch of white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a bit of lacing.

Bready malt dominates the smell with a tinge of earthyness.

The initial taste is of pleasant floral hops with the malt found in the smell mixing in after a bit. The flavor profile really isn't that bad until the aftertaste. The finish itself is quite smooth and balanced, but if I take a long pause between sips, there is an odd almost metallic aftertaste.

Overall this brew falls into the OK category for me. It falls just short in every category for my taste buds. While I would say this is quite a drinkable brew, the odd aftertaste would cause me to move on to something else after giving this one a go. Worth a shot, but nothing to write home about.

Photo of Clydesdale
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a hazy cooper color with a large, dense and frothy off-white head. Retention is excellent, lacing as well.

S: Some mild malt sweetness - perhaps some brown sugar. Some citric and vaguely floral hops - lemony, some grapefruit also.

T: Light malt sweetness up front - not too much of a presence overall. Hops are floral and citric - with a slowly-developing bitterness into the finish. Again, some light brown sugar and a bit of bready yeast become apparent. Some metallic flavors from time to time.

M: Medium bodied. Carbonation on the light side. A lingering, somewhat puckering dryness into the finish.

D: This one looks great but just seems a bit unbalanced in my opinion. Not much of a malt presence, and what is there gets overwhelmed by an overly blunt hop presence and some off flavors.

Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 1,343 ratings.