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Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale - Arbor Brewing Company

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Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale
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45 Reviews

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Reviews: 45
Hads: 102
Avg: 3.65
pDev: 20%
Wants: 1
Gots: 14 | 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
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Reviews: 45 | Hads: 102
Photo of Sammy
3.49/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Lots of lace and a creamy head on top of a brownish amber body. An aroma of musty yeast. Spicey and fruity, with a noteable aftertaste. Chocolate malts, caramel, barley, warming alcohol. Would be a feature in a side-by-side with Kuhennen ales. Not as satsifying as other old ales I have trade, not the real thing but nice.

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Photo of emerge077
2.56/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours into a Duvel glass nearly all foam. Pouring gradually eventually produces a glass that is 1/2 beer, 1/2 foam. Bubbles are huge at the top, sparkly and soapy, leaving flecks of lace here and there.

Apple juice box or fruit cocktail aroma, with plastic off notes. Alternately roasty and medicinal. Roasty, ashy malt taste with antiseptic tartness. Symptoms of infection...the body is way overcarbonated, and foams up with each sip. Something is amiss here, and I bought this bottle near the source in Ann Arbor. Possibly the single was old or just infected, $2.29 from Main Party Store.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Photo of Bung
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. Kind of a murky orange pour a layer of white head. Turns to a ring but stays, laces ok.

Aroma is a fair amount of malt, caramel and some light red fruits, citrus and pine.

Malty flavors, but a bit mellow all around. Toffee, malt a bit of caramel apple. Just a balancing amount of piney hops, but there really isn't that much to balance. The finish is pretty dry with just the faint piney hops.

Medium body, but a bit thin really, does not coat the mouth. Carb is ok.

Everything is just ok, nothing offesnive, just very subdued. Makes it pretty much a one and done.

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Photo of morimech
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark caramel color with a thin head that hung on for a good amount of time. Lacing fails to stick to the glass. I left the yeast sediment in the bottle. A good aroma for the style. I smell toffee, grass, gingerbread, and some yeast esters. Unfortunately the flavor does not live up to the aroma. A little too much caramel malt for my taste. Tastes a tad artificial but is not too bad. Bready flavor with a touch of ginger. Mildly hopped with just a faint touch of spice and pine. No sign of alcohol. So close to having a good mouthfeel but is just a little too thin. Nicely carbonated however. A decent old ale that just falls short in a couple of areas.

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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.

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Photo of alexgash
3.51/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle.

Pours a charged deep burnt sienna with coppery edges. Tall, rocky, thick, creamy, light khaki head. Nose of metallic, mineral-y hops. Some piny, Scotch tape hop aromas, and a jammy fruit vein as well. These piny hops suggest more of an Americanized old ale, that's for sure.

Mineral-y and piny hop bitterness greets the tongue. Sugary, fruit and caramel malts settle in nicely. Yeasty. Assertive, herbal, piny, and bitter hops come on into the finish, tipping the scales toward a hoppier beer. Some latent sugary caramel in the finish. Medium-full body with a slightly over-carbonated feel. Not bad, and thankfully not a gusher (although this one did seem a little bubbly).

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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...

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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.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A helluva powerful beer. At 8.5% ABV, it was big to say the least. Poured out from the tap to a dark brownish orange color with nearly no head. Low carbonation. Aromas of malt and a touch of alcohol. Taste was malty, with some fermented citrus notes, and dry grain. Mouthfeel was light, but maintained a consistance about itself. Drinkability is fair. Wasn't all that impressed.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Slow pour into the glass still gave a surprisingly large head, soapy and creamy in consistency, with a beige tinge to it. The beer is a slightly hazy ruby brown-ish color, pretty much what I'd expect from the style. Lacing is spotty. (4/5)

Smell: Something not quite Old Ale-like in here. I'd assume it's the malts used, as this smells like a brown. It also comes off a bit cheap in quality, like there are some adjuncts in there somehow, somewhere. Additionally, there's some alcohol on the nose, which is never a problem for me in Old Ales, but with the somewhat low-quality aroma coming out of this beer, the alcohol almost comes off as a muted rubbing alcohol sort of aroma. As it warms up a dark fruit jam smell becomes apparent and really spruces things up, thankfully... without it, this would basically smell like a rubbing alcohol infused brown ale. (3.5/5)

Taste/feel: Yeah, eh. It just doesn't really taste quite like any Old Ale I've had before, and that's not a good thing. It just doesn't have a ton of flavor like I'd hope given the style/ABV. It has the usual suspects of dark fruits and some sweet malt, but it comes off as pretty average. The two things that bother me the most are the strange moderately metallic bitterness on the finish, and the mouthfeel. Jackhammer goes in slightly creamy, but then comes the too-high carbonation, and, bizarrely, the beer finishes thin. The flavor that's there isn't bad, but the thinnish mouthfeel and bitter finish make this a pretty forgettable Old Ale. (3.5/5, 3/5)

The price isn't too horrible at $2.49 for a single, but the quality still isn't quite there.

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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.)

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Photo of aforbes10
2.28/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

bottle from kkulacki. Houston, we have an unreasonable amount of foam. Explosive head overwhelms my tulip glass after pouring just a half inch of beer. Infection? Or just overcarbonated? Beer underneath is a milk-chocolate brown, slightly turgid. Smells slightly hoppy and vegetal like wilted kale. Sweet malt odor underneath. Aroma is reminiscent of an old ale, but something is a bit off. Flavor has a strong malt base, recognizable as a member of the style, but on top of that is a pervasive vegetal tartness that isn't particularly appetizing. Its either from the hops or unwelcome bacteria...and either way its not good. Warming alcohol evident, as well as a bit of a wet cardboard like taste. Mouthfeel medium to full bodied. Arbor is usually hit or miss for me and this one is a miss. Hard to say if its a miss because of their beer-craft or because of their sanitation procedures, but either way its a beer they're selling in bottles and that doesn't taste good.

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Photo of silentjay
2.73/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

muddy dark brown with no head (suitable for the style, though) and minimal lacing.

grainy and buttery with some dark fruits in the background.

leathery, buttery flavor with caramel, toffee, and a touch of tinfoil. not impressed.

medium bodied with subtle carbonation which works well for the style.

drinks averagely. too many dominant off-flavors. some good aspects mesh together with those to make an average beer.

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Photo of BMoney575
1.7/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Sampled on 4-14-09

Pours a big foamy mess, pretty typical for bottles of Arbor Brewing. A very thick off white head sits on top of a very cloudy deep amber.

Smell is thin malt, a weird sourness, and reminds me of the last Arbor Brewing I had.

Taste is fizzy, gross cigarette smoke, a little sour. A disgusting mess.

Mouthfeel is terrible, it seems to fizz and fill up your mouth.

Drinkability is as poor as it gets.

Overall, one of the shittiest beers I've ever had. It doesn't have even one redeeming quality. Another brewery I'm done with.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of GRPunk
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A- A moderate pour left a 1-finger, khaki head that drops to some nice, foamy coverage. The body is a pleasantly, murky brown that shows signs of light carbonation. The foamy stick from each sip slowly falls back into the body.

S- A really nice, initial sweetness. Caramel or brown sugar with some fruity qualitites. Later on there's some light spicing going on. Maybe something of a ginger or nutmeg and cinnamon.

T- Not as profound as expected from the aroma. Malts and spicy qualities combine to make something that reminds me of the cinnamon graham crackers my kids love during their afternoon snacks. A little warmth brings some buttery, rum-like aspects and a slight, grainy quality.

M- It's really pleasant. Light carbonation and moderate-thick viscosity combine with a nice, chalky feel. There's just the right amount of warming alcohol.

D- It's really a decent sipper. Obviously not something to session, but something to contemplate during a cold Michigan winter. Overall, it's pretty much a "hit" from a brewery that tends to be kinda' hit-or-miss for me.

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Photo of webmanspidey
2.51/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours dark brown color, very fizzy with loads of head. Smell is on the spicy end.. smokey, licorice and dark fruit. For a really weird description, I'd even say dusty. Pretty offbeat and out there, not that pleasant. Taste is more of the same.. slightly smokey, a big burst of alcohol and then a whimper of licorice and spices. The lingering taste is actually pretty sour, and not very pleasant.

Overall, I'm not too impressed with this one. It isn't completely terrible, but doesn't have too much going for it.

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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.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
3.26/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours very dark amber with a two finger slightly off-white head which leaves no lacing.

S - Raisins, caramel malt and toffee make an appearance up front, followed by some very slight chocolate and sweet candy.

T - Pretty much follows the nose with booze soaked raisins and sweet chocolate, followed by a small amount of cherry and wood.

M - Medium, boozy body with moderate carbonation.

O - Overall, It was alright. I'd have again, But not very often

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Arbor Brewing Jackhammer Old Ale from Arbor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.