Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe now →

Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale - Arbor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale
No picture.
Have one? Upload it now.

45 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 45
Hads: 102
Avg: 3.65
pDev: 20%
Wants: 1
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Arbor Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-17-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 45 | Hads: 102
Photo of SportsandJorts
4.27/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

reviewing a 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. but i have also had it on tap at the brewpub.

appearance- dark brown to blackish color. not much in terms of head and nothing stuck around including a lacing.

smell- smells of caramels and toffees. maybe some faint hops and dark fruits

taste- caramels, a little in the way of hops, some yeastiness, faint alcohol and a little bit of dark fruits. i really like the balance and touch of alcohol

mouthfeel- a bit of a heavier body, low carbonation

overall- this is a good beer. I have enjoyed it many times at the brewpub and would definitely get it again if i see it on tap. i would most likely buy it again if i saw it on shelf for a good price (~$12 a 6-pack and $4 a 12 oz serving.)

 740 characters

Photo of deebo
4.24/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I found this to be a solid old ale. Flavors on point with some nice sweet make with a nice warming finish but no alcohol bite. Would definitely grab this one again. Believe this one was almost a year old.

 204 characters

Photo of aaronh
4.23/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep red with amber highlights. Not much head to speak of. Hint of malt sweetness on the nose, but it's a clean sweetness. No unusual esters going on here. Flavor at first has a pronounced fruity sweetness, almost like cherries. Then a warm alcohol note is followed by a strong bitterness and astringent finish. A fairly well balanced big beer.

 344 characters

Photo of association330
4.17/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, no freshness date

A - Pours murky brown with yeast clearly in suspension. Forms a pinky of off-white head which soon drops to a thin film with a ring of bubbles. Lacing is spotty.

S - A mixture of citrus and candied fruits. Sweet malt backbone with hints of spice (definitely some clove). Faint hop note. Overall, has a Belgian-like quality to it.

T - Follows the nose. Nice malt complexity, leading in with sweet & sour citrus, which gives way to a swallow of dark & candied fruits and licorice notes. Slight hop bitterness lingers in the finish.

M - Medium-boded, carbonation is a little too harsh. Slight alcohol warmth.

D - I don't know about calling this an old ale, but it's a nice Belgian-style something.

 732 characters

Photo of Antg8989
4.16/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A bit of a darker ale. Never have been a huge fan of the "ale" smell, and this one is about the same as the rest. It's got flavor, that is for sure. Not bad at all.

 164 characters

Photo of drxandy
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz to standard pint, pours a deep dark brownish amber with hints of red, creamy tan head eventually fades

smells of delicious roasty malts, yeastiness, mmm

taste is of heavy malts fading into a bitter finish, good hoppiness in the back and an overall good balance, alcohol is definitely present, spicy, good balance, loads of flavor, nice! reminds me sort of a belgian strong with the dark fruits and almost belgiany banana-clove yeast

mouthfeel is slightly creamy, roasty, bitter, pretty tasty for alcohol content - overall quite a nice old ale from arbor!!

 563 characters

Photo of Ryans_Goosling
4.11/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

If you rubbed your face in a ripe banana, and then dunked your head in molasses, then dunked your head in brandy. Why is it called Jackhammer, that's my only question for you.

 175 characters

Photo of BierFan
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a cool motto printed on the label, "It's quitting time somewhere.". No freshness date or abv is listed unfortunately. Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a flute.

Appearance: Big tan head, clear dark brown body. The head and carbonation are bigger than I expected them to be.

Smell: Dark ripe fruits, cloves, and molasses.

Taste: The taste is much like the smell. Cloves are really strong and it reminds me of a wheat beer even though it obviously isn't. Alcohol is mild and warms the throat. Very nice.

 519 characters

Photo of Jason
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

LOOK: Rudy copper and clear, off-white head holds together well

SMELL: Caramel, toasted grain, dried grass, browned apples, pears, herbal hops, faint alcohol, cake batter, doughy biscuits

TASTE: Silky smooth, full-ish body, caramel, dried grass, toasted bread, herbal spicy hop, yeast, warming alcohol, apple skin, pear juice, clean, semi-dry grainy finish

A pretty amazing Old Ale, very clean but the flavors keep up with complexities and making it interesting to drink. Going to throw the rest of this bottle at a 12 month old cheddar. A sleeper beer, one that most beer geeks are missing out on.

 644 characters

Photo of david131
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- A deep red/ brown liquid with some very active carbonation. The head is massive and fluffy with pretty good retention.

S- Lots of caramel and light fruits. Smells a little Beligan funky and sour. Some candied dark fruit too. Pretty complex and appealing.

T- Same as the aroma, but with a little bit of earthiness in there. The alcohol is ever so slightly apparent, but it isn't bad.

M- Overcarbonated, but it isn't harsh. This really could have been something with a little less carbonation.

D- For the alcohol and style, this is a pretty easy drinking beer. It is bottle conditioned, but from the flavor, I don't really know where this will go with some age on it. Worth a try none-the-less.

 699 characters

Photo of danielharper
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(Beer originally tasted 10/27/2009. Notes transcribed below. Please note that I received this bottle gratis for assisting representatives of the brewery with picking bottles of non-Arbor Brewing beer for a tasting they were running.)

A: Brown very hazy body, nearly opaque. Slight yellow tinge on the bottom. No head, as expected for a beer of this ABV.

S: Spicy aroma, nice roasty notes of cloves and coriander. Malty underneath, somewhat nutty.

T: Very much like the aromatics. Strongly spiced with a malty "brownish" backbone. Slightly astringent on the finish due to alcohol, although that alcohol is well-hidden by the spiciness of the malt.

M: Moderate thickness, some carbonation. Spices tickle the tongue and give the beer a nice chewiness.

D: More like a winter warmer than an old ale. But quite nice.

 820 characters

Photo of GbVDave
4.03/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a St. Feuillien chalice. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pours an opaque, English Breakfast tea brown that's capped with an impressively creamy, khaki-colored head, with excellent retention, that leaves a healthy coating of sticky lace in the glass.

S: Interesting yeast aroma. Reminds me of something vaguely Belgian. Also present are bitter chocolate, roasted malt, candi sugar, dark fruit, caramel, roasted nuts, and fudge brownies (?).

T: Slightly fruity Belgian-esque yeast flavors coupled with roasted malt, caramel, bitter dark chocolate, pan-roasted nuts, candi sugar, plum/raisin, citrus hops, and some dry cocoa powder in the finish.

M: A bit too bright upon initial pour. As it sits in the glass it becomes noticably creamier. Though not as smooth and oily as I'd hoped. Finishes quite dry. Very enjoyable nonetheless.

D: I dig this beer. I should've bought more to sit on a bottle or two...

 946 characters

Photo of mchegash
4.02/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.25/5
A nice deep red color, about two fingers of light brown head, on initial pour. Great head retention, one finger of head stays around for a while. Fairly good lacing. I think the beer's fairly clear, but the color is dark enought that it's still hard to see through. Overall, a great look.

Smell - 4/5
Some slightly sweet malts, fruits, cherry, chocolate roasty/smokiness. Fairly good smell

Taste - 4/5
Sweet cherry/fruity malts, some very small alcohol and hops presence. The taste is good, but it does seem perhaps a little more one-dimensional than the smell, given the roastiness which was present in the smell but which I can't taste. Still, a great taste

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium to full bodied, a light amount of carbonation. Beer is very smooth.

Overall - 4/5

 788 characters

Photo of plaztikjezuz
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

tasted this at the michigan brewers guild winter beer fest.
from my notes i wa served a light brown sample with a good pillowy head.
the aroma was citrusy and malty, hint of hops.
the flavor is malty, citrus, hopsack, minerally
the mouthfeel was very full.

 260 characters

Photo of K-Dog
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Everything about this beer is on par with an average old ale. If you like this style is worth a try. Not one of the greatest by any means but still it's an enjoyable offering.

 175 characters

Photo of StoutHunter
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Arbor's Jackhammer Old Ale a couple weeks ago for $2.19 at The Lager Mill. I haven't heard of or seen this beer before, but the price was right and I haven't had this style in a while so I decided to give it a chance, so lets see how it goes. 2013 Vintage, it just showed up so I think it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label isn't that great and isn't too eye catching but I do like the caution tape border on the label. It poured a nice and hazy mahogany brown color that took on a nice ruby hue when held to the light with two fingers worth of light tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some nice lacing behind. This was a pretty good looking beer, the color was good and the head and lacing were really good.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by a loads of malts that impart some dark bread, toffee, and caramel malt like aromas with lots of dark fruit aromas with raisins and figs sticking out the most with a little bit of fruity sweetness in the background that reminds me a little of some Belgian candied sugar. Towards the end I get a slight bit of roasted malts with a light chocolate like aroma. This beer had a good aroma, it was pretty true to style and it had a good amount of complexity to it.

T- The taste seems to be fairly similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by a good amount of malts that impart all those malty aspects that I got in the aroma, but it's the caramel that seems to stick out the most. Up next comes a little bit of alcohol, it's noticeable, but I think it's pretty well hidden for the most part and not overpowering. After that comes dark fruits and some cherrys sticking out the most followed by a noticeable woody flavor. On the finish there's hardly and bitterness just a little bit of warming alcohol and it had a caramel and dark fruit like aftertaste. This beer tasted good, it was pretty true to style and it had a nice bit of complexity.

M- Pretty smooth for the abv, clean, medium bodied, with a higher amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was ok, but I felt like it should be a little thicker with a little less carbonation.

Overall I thought this was a good a beer, it was also a good and pretty solid example of the style, none of the flavors or aromas seemed out of place and they both had a good amount of complexity. This beer had good drinkability for the style, it was smooth, not too boozy, and the flavors did a job at holding my attention with their complexity, I might be inclined to drink a couple bottles if I had nothing to do in the mourning. What I liked the most about this beer was the how true to style and complex it was, I also really liked the appearance, it's a good looking Old Ale. What I liked the least about this beer was the mouthfeel, it was the only thing that seemed off for the style and I think it would much better suit this beer if it was a little thicker with a little less carbonation. I would buy this beer again, it's a pretty affordable Old Ale, which isn't too common for the style, I will be picking up a couple more to put in the cellar, I think they may have some potential for ageing and I recommend this to anyone who likes the style, it's a nice example of what an Old Ale should be like. All in all I was pretty happy with this beer, I didn't have my hopes set too high since Arbor can be pretty hit or miss but this one turned out pretty good and I thought it represented the style nicely. It's not going to take the place of Bell's Third Coast Old Ale as my favorite of the style, but it's still a good and solid example that I enjoyed drinking. Thanks for the tasty Old Ale Arbor Brewing Company.

 3,813 characters

Photo of jeremyd365
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark amber which seemed highly carbonated and had a thick, light brown head that stayed foamy for awhile. Smells sweet, almost belgian-y with maybe a little hop in there. The flavor is a rich olde ale consistant with others that I have tried (and quite good!). It's sweet with a bitter finish and a bit of a tart aftertaste. It's medium-bodied in the mouth and quite drinkable. Seems pretty gentle for 8.5% and well worth the try!

 444 characters

Photo of kohoutek
3.89/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber mahogany with auburn hues. Very thin head and minimal lacing. Hazy, unfiltered appearance.

Aromas of caramelized sugar, toffee, roasted Kona coffee and plenty of fruity esters: grape juice, fresh apple, pear, raspberries

The flavor strikes me as very anticlimactic when considering the foreshadowed olfactory boldness. The maltiness takes front stage with bready graham cracker and caramelized sugar. The fruitiness and roast are nowhere to be found. A wave of cleansing herbal hops serve to distract me a bit from the somewhat singly presented maltiness. This beer is presented in a very dry fashion.

The mouth feel is much more thin than expected. The beer is very cold and the carbonation, while appropriate, seems to be suppressed by the temperature. Lacks flesh.

This beer drinks very easily from the perspective of its enticing quaffable qualities, but it does not beckon the imbiber with the desire to sip yet again an again to discover its hidden mysteries.

 997 characters

Photo of Gryphon69
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle
no date on bottle , but just got in so gonna go with 2014

A- Pours a fairly clear mahogany red, with a off white head that was 2 fingers high, lacing up the sides with every drink till it was gone.

S- Dark fruits, kinda sweet up front, malts, vanilla, some light alcohol.

T- Roasty, fairly sweet, little more alcohol presence than the smell, follows up with some light chocolate, vanillas.

M- Solid medium body, smooth, silky, has more carbonation than what it shows.

O- Well Ive had this one on tap and have brought it home in bottles over the last few years, this year seems to be less chocolaty / cherries. Still good beer that represents the style well, I work in this part of Mi. a lot so I get to stay up with the brewery more than others. Jackhammer is always one of my favorites, even with this being slightly off compared to other years.

 863 characters

Photo of CFHMagnet
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I poured this one aggressively to get my finger and a half of head. This was a sand color over a cherry brown body. Keeps a thin head up top, with sheets of lacing clinging to the side.

I smell roasty malt, hints of vanilla and caramel as well as a little banana.

The flavor profile is roasty malt with dark fruit, caramel, earthy hops, and spice.

Medium bodied. Well carbonated.

 383 characters

Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours fairly crystal clear dark reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense and fluffy light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of caramel, toast, toffee, dark bread, brown sugar, raisin, plum, cherry, pear, apple, light chocolate, herbal, grass, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt, fruity/earthy yeast, and earthy hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, dark bread, brown sugar, chocolate, raisin, plum, cherry, pear, apple, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Fair amount of earthy herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, dark bread, chocolate, brown sugar, raisin, plum, cherry, pear, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted/bready malt, fruity yeast, and earthy hop flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy/bready, and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming lingering after the finish. Overall this is a very good old ale style. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted/bready malt, fruity yeast, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A nicely enjoyable offering.

 1,673 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Bottle shared by Adam. Thanks man.

Chestnut brown body with a small tan head. Brown bread, light spice, maybe a touch of molasses. Yeasty bready. Mild sweetness. Smooth and easy drinking. Good stuff.

 200 characters

Photo of tempest
3.74/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Clark's Ale House. I have to wonder where these random Michigan beers come from.

It was good, but I didn't really get much of the rich caramel malt flavors that characterize an old ale to me. Came off fruitier, like a barleywine, and hopped like an American version. The hops still seemed grassier, but there wasn't much flavor, but bitterness

 356 characters

Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed on January 18, 2006. On tap at the brewpub. Pours a cloudy brown/amber/orange with opalescense. Light bready fruit with cherries, bourbon and lime in the aroma. Flavor is a warm alchol, yet still some thickness and not too much depth. Fruit, with a touch of chocolate, maybe some pears. Almost aged like. But overall, restrained alcohol and malt. Not much complex characterisitics. Straightforward and drinkable. Finish is sweet, with a light hoppy dryness.

 477 characters

Photo of nomad
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Quite happy to see this seasonal on the board at my favorite local haunt, but its a tough call between this and Arbor's doppelbock when hankering for a malty winter warmer.

The color is a moderate amber with a strong raspberry-tone - that pinkish sort of hum that gives the lighter red of a raspberry some backing. Lacing is never much of a sight while the head is thin and mediocre in formation and retention.

Smell is shy to come through, mainly because they serve this beer way too cold, but highly estery when it does. Light caramel notes also dot the scent.

Flavor follows through with a massive fruity presence - I have never encountered an old ale with this many yeast esters. Cherries, strawberries, super-ripe Gala apples, this beer really lays the the fruit on and has a cidery twang that, to me, hints of sugar use in the boil, but could just be the yeast again. Malt core is moderate and assuming, mainly light caramel. As aforementioned, this beer is served mightily cold and as such the hops can be overly assertive and spicy. When allowed to warm to a proper serving temperature for such an English brew they recede into merely a role as a drying finishing touch.

A nice old ale and definitely a true winter warmer. Needs to be served at much warmer temps, though luckily it is only available in a 10 oz. mini-stein that warms up fast. Good value for the price (less than $4) but I'd choose Arbor's Terminator instead for a malt experience. Okay, I often order one and then the other...

 1,513 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale from Arbor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.