Harlem Sugar Hill Ale - Harlem Brewing Company

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Harlem Sugar Hill AleHarlem Sugar Hill Ale

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46 Reviews
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Reviews: 46
Hads: 95
Avg: 3.32
pDev: 15.96%
Wants: 1
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Harlem Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Blonde Ale |  6.09% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-31-2002

No notes at this time.
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Reviews: 46 | Hads: 95
Photo of CHickman
1.6/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Pours cloudy orange amber with a 1 finger tan head that faded quickly; pretty weak lacing that slid down fast.

Smells of honey, sweet malt, light caramel, coriander, light brown sugar, cotton candy, yeast and almost like mead or a bready smell - kind of strange smell like a sweet piece of old wheat bread; not the light blonde ale odor I was expecting, in fact it was the opposite.

Tastes like it smells, which is not a good thing; the combo of honey, sweet malt, caramel, coriander, light brown sugar, funky yeast and wet bread just don't work well together. This beer is too sweet with basically has no hop presence, and to make it worse it left a funky yeast metallic taste with no good taste reward beforehand. The aftertaste was almost like rotten fruit.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, with little to no carbonation and a silky feel on the tongue. Goes down physically easy, too bad it tastes like ass. This was a drain pour; my two friends that were with me tried some of my beer (this bottle) and both agreed that this beer just tastes bad; perhaps it was a bad bottle, otherwise it's just awful.

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Photo of Chsyhkr
2.53/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Fruit Cocktail?

A very sweet beer, a cross between Helles and Blond Ale which the sweetness of Helles and the fruitiness of an ale.

Pours a dark straw color into a glass with a wispy white head that does linger a while.

A sweet fruity aroma, see my first comment, follows into a sugary flavor with indistinguishable hop flavor.

Not a bad beer but not good either...

Someone sent it down to NC where we met the brewer, a nice but not very knowledgable person of brewing. Marketing perhaps.

Contract brewed somewhere for some market, black jazz clubs in NYC, perhaps...maybe rap clubs, "hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, SAY WHAT!"

Save your money...

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Photo of Rifugium
2.54/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

First had: bottle at Iridium Jazz Club, NYC, NY

I cringed at the $8 price tag on this as my buddy got it, and sadly it was the best beer Iridium had to offer. I sampled it, but ultimately decided if I needed to reach a $15 minimum, I might as well get a martini.

But anyway, this was a slightly hazy, light amber beer, with a fizzy white head that receded to nearly nothing; bubbly carbonation and no real lacing noted. Aroma of toasted grains and corn sugar. More of the same in the taste, pale malty sweetness, toasted grains, light grassiness, slightly metallic edge in the finish. Light body, and not too pleasant overall. Shame on Iridium for gouging these suckers. A crappy club that I hope never to return to, though it was worth it to see Paul Gilbert play "Man on the Silver Mountain" with the Les Paul Trio.

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Photo of Gavage
2.6/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: pours a hazy orange color with a wispy head. No lace develops.

Smell: sugary sweetness is all that is detected.

Taste: mild malt profile with a super sugary and ripe pear / apple sweetness. Very little bitterness to balance it out.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Lightly crisp from start to finish.

Drinkability: this beer is not balanced nor is it refreshing as the style usually is. Way too sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of UnionMade
2.61/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Ehhhh... I don't know what I was expecting, but i guess the whole Harlem/Sugar Hill thing gave me some higher expectations. I immediately thought of the Sugar Hill Gang and their timeless classic "Rappers Delight" when i saw this beer. In fact, i got it for my old school rap loving friend. I didn't get to give it to him quick enough and i drank it.
Beer is a pale, slightly hazy amber gold, with a clean pure white head. I have to say this was an attractive looking beer.
Things started to go wrong with the nose, which smelled almost exactly like a lager, something in the Helles style. I was kind of expecting something a little more estery, I guess.
Flavor is almost identical to a Helles, with a characteristic lagery flavor and aroma. Maybe it's the hops they used. Who knows. There's a touch of light fruitiness, but altogether, i didn't really enjoy this. My general feeling is that it's a regular american lager, with perhaps a little more body and a touch more hops. Not bad at all, but not what i was expecting or come to associate with a golden ale. Just kind of weak and uninspired. Definitely something to try for a gateway beer.

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Photo of Scherring
2.8/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Mahogany color almost red, opaque with a half fingers width of off white head with an OK lacing.

S- Very aromatic with a very noticeable honey tone and under tones of sweetness and alcohol.

T- Off the bat, just like the first whiff, a taste of honey. There is a very brief taste of alcohol but not as noticeable as the smell of alcohol i had. It is very well hidden behind the sweetness of this beer.

M- This beer coats your mouth in a syrupy layer and finishes off smooth. The taste lingers on your tongue, but only for a moment

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Photo of Mosstrooper
2.99/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into 500ml New Belgium branded tulip glass.

Appearance: Amber color with a good sized off-white, slightly orange, head that leaves a little bit of lace behind.

Smell: An almost overpowering sugary sweetness that has some fruit hints with a bit of a floral background.

Taste: Sweet fruits in the beginning (grape, apple) with a biscuity finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation and a syrupy finish.

Drinkability: This beer seemed a little off, so isn't something I'd be rushing to get again. Not necessarily bad, but unremarkable and a bit strange.

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Photo of david18
3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got a bottle of this at Artisinal Cheese Restaurant in New York City. Not the best blond ale i've had. Had a deep orange color with a smallish head. Not a great or distinct aroma. Really a very run of the mill beer. I guess this is a new brewery so i'll keep an eye on them and see what else they come up with in the future.

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Photo of jpro
3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz into a mug...

A: Rusty, straw gold; white head; about a finger of foam leaves no lace; OK look.

S: wheat malt; toast; light estery-ness; OK aroma.

T: light caramel malt; bread crust; candy sweetness and chalky hop bitterness; OK taste.

M: what you'd expect - it's OK.

O: an OK beer.

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Photo of TheDeuce
3.03/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sugar Hill Golden Ale...had this bottle at Blue Hill Restaurant.

Appearance-muddled golden color, white to tan head, medium size, medium carbonation, nothing else was notable.

Smell-honey, hops, residual sweetness, sweeter than the average beer of this style.

Taste/Mouthfeel- run of the mill blonde ale, medium strength mix of alcohol, hops, caramel malt, light grain. Nice smoothness, goes down really easy, you can either sip this or down it quickly.

Drinkability- well it's not winning any awards but it does nothing wrong and went great with my shrimp.

Overall-meh, pretty much same as the drinkability, inoffensive beer that went well with my dinner and doesn't mess anything up, that said there is nothing to separate it from being an adequate blonde ale.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.06/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 ounce brown glass bottle with neck, obverse and reverse labels that all are all coordinated with a yellow-golden background color. The main label has a saxophone behind a large drum which in turn has a keyboard running across the front with the words ‘Sugar Hill’ formed from the ebony keys set against the ivory ones. Has the words ‘Sugar Hill Golden Ale’, and “Taste the Music” on the front label. No strength or freshness date listed.

The reverse label offers some background to the brew. Allegedly from a centuries-old African recipe, it is named after a swinging Harlem neighborhood made famous by musicians in the 1930’s.

Appearance: Has a lovely, ever so slightly hazed, fantastic looking orange golden body. The head is thick and rich, and readily forms a white blanket that is regular and uniform in appearance. Solid levels of carbonation, and excellent head longevity. Nice presentation, it looks extremely thirst quenching on a warm summers Sunday afternoon.

Nose: Sweet malts and not much else that I could discern to be honest. Serve well chilled thanks to a psychotic Fridge, even when it warmed the aroma was of sweet malts but a light hoppiness did develop after a while.

Taste: Sweet grainy malt bill to start with, had a light grain texture that is a tad cloying when set against the sweet malts. The middle though, is refreshing as the bitterness builds in the back end. Lingering bitterness on the tongue and in the sides of the mouth.

Mouthfeel: Average body in feel, bolstered by the initial grainy feel (whether you like it or not) and the nice bitter finish, all interspersed with a dashing sweet malt feel from time to time.

Drinkability: It took me a while to get used to this, but after a few mouthfuls, and after I knew what to expect, it wasn’t all bad. I am not too big on sweetness, just my personal trait, and I found that the sweetish malts and grainy malt texture were a little too much after a while. The lingering bitterness was nice though. For me this beer was much better at the end, as opposed to the beginning, if that doesn’t sound stupid.

Overall: A decent enough brew, but a tad too sweet in the long term for me to be honest. Not bad for a hot summers afternoon though.

A Big Musical Thanks to McCall for sending this rare one over!

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not sure how this made it down to City Beverage in Winston-Salem, but whatever. Pours a lightly hazy pale gold color with a medium thin bone white head. Lightly effervescent. The aroma is somewhat hoppy and a little metallic. Light-bodied and rather crisp with equal parts hops and sweet malt. The finish is on the bitter side. Overall this beer is barely above average and nothing memorable.

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Photo of jsisko01
3.13/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours a dark amber/golden color with a half inch head that dissipates quickly. Lacing is very nice.

Smell - Sweet with bread, grains, honey, and floral hops.

Taste - Light hint of honey with a few spices I can't point out. It's very sweet with pale and toasted malts, citrus, floral hops, and bitter dry finish.

Mouthfeel - Light body with mild carbonation.

Overall - The taste of this beer is a lot different than any other blonde ale I've tried.. It's not exactly a good thing, but not bad either.

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Photo of garcia2a
3.15/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy golden color, very light carbonation with an almost non-existent head.

The bouquet has sweet malts and grains that predominate the nose. I'm not getting much of anything else. This translates well to the taste as I am getting quite a bit of sweet malts with just a hint of acidity. This ascerbic bite tends to form the bulk of the aftertaste.

The body is medium, a bit heavier than I expected. Kinda reminded me of a few Belgiam golden ales in terms of the body. Overall, quite drinkable, should be good for the summer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.15/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $1.49 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a hazy, darkened orange-amber body with a modest, white head.

Smell: A sweetish, spicy, but not particularly effusive nose, smelling of crumbled biscuits, equally crumble toffee crisps, a drizzle of apricot, dried lemon peel, and spicy, dried herbs.

Taste: Pale malts with a pinch of toasted biscuit crumbs and a bit of sweet butter toffee. Lightly fruity citrus and a touch of dry, tea-like herbs. Medium-light bitterness. Drying, faintly herbaceous finish with a lingering of that sweetish toffee.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's a simple, satisfactory golden, nothing more. Best of luck to ya, Harlem Brewing!

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Photo of JordonHoltzman
3.24/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours an orange golden color very clear. No head but some bubbles around the rim are white.

Smells slightly fruity with a tinge of caramel.
The trays matches the aroma. Not a strong big flavor profile but drinkable crisp like a golden ale should be
And it definitely should be considering the low alcohol.
Slightly high carbonation but crisp light-bodied mouthfeel.
Overall this is an average golden ale

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Photo of mdfb79
3.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From 10/06/12 notes.

a - Pours a golden-amber color with one inch of off white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet corn, wheat, grains, bready malts, and light floral hops. Not great, and not much going on here. Pretty average nose.

t - Tastes of lightly sweet honey and light fruits, corn, wheat, bready malts, grains, floral hops, and earthy malts. Nice sweetness from the honey and fruit, much better than the nose.

m - Light body and low carbonation. A bit undercarbonated and has a watery feel to it.

o - Overall a decent beer, though nothing amazing. Easy to drink and some nice honey in the taste, though the nose is uneventful. Probably wouldn't seek it out again.

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Photo of Billolick
3.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, I picked up at the Brewtopia festival to sample. Pours medium straw, cloudy, white, moderate head and leaves respectable lacing. Moderate nose of mostly just abit of malt. This is a fairly light bodied brew, sweetness upfront and apparant, middle section is nondescript and it finishes with just a wiff of drying and grainy hops. Middle of the road quaffer. Worth a try to support this Harlem NYC, brewery , but will not be of much more interest for most BAs.

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Photo of tempest
3.3/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a bottle at Euro Market. It poured a clear amber with a little yeast on the bottom of the bottle. By color and taste I'd say this is an amber ale, though it is light in character. The beer comes off like a lighter version of Dundee's Honey Brown, there's just a simple, mild caramel barley character that dries out in the finish. There's nothing exceptional here, but it is a clean, drinkable ale.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.3/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had to pick up some bottles recently and in getting a discount on a mixed-six, I decided to give this one a whirl.

From the bottle: "Legend has it that during the Harlem Renaissance, a special beer was being brewed Uptown in Harlem that was the rave! It was the brew of choice for musicians, artists and locals alike. Named for that swinging neighborhood made famous by this period, Sugar Hill Golden Ale sings with flavor!"; "Taste the Music".

My pour netted a finger of bone-white head with good retention. Color was a deep golden-yellow with NE-quality clarity. Nose was quite biscuity, very reminiscent of Fat Tire, actually. Mouthfeel was medium with a big biscuit malt presence on the tongue. Finish gave way to a grassy hops taste that was nice. It was pretty standard for the style. A nice break from the IPAs of the last two days, but nothing truly remarkable.

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Photo of avalon07
3.3/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was a very thin, foamy head that dissipated quickly. Average lacing.

S: Smelled mostly of malt, with some traces of yeast and citrus.

T: The malt dominates the taste, but like the smell, also has notes of yeast and citrus. Not a terrible taste, just very one-dimensional.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Light-bodied.

D: An OK, drinkable beer, in the sense that a style as undynamic as Blonde is drinkable.

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Photo of alexwag
3.36/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Always like to try a local beer, and this was a new one on me ...

A: Poured a slightly darker than Bud crisp copper with less than one finger of fizzy, quickly dissipating head. Slightly cloudy, not unlike today's hot and humid weather so looks refreshing.

S: Not much to speak off. Crisp and clean, but again, not unlike a macro, though with some welcome added hop snap.

T: Sings a note smooth and sharp, with some yeasty tartness and a little lemon zest.

M: Fizziness on the tongue with a nice creaminess (not too much) -- nice mix.

D: Nice for a summer day -- the yeastiness/touch of metal becomes drags a bit as you go through, but overall nice. Not a go-to but might buy again for consistent refreshment.

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Photo of metter98
3.38/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear deep golden yellow in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high off white head that died down but consistently left a small head covering the surface and lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of biscuit and cracker malts in the nose along with some faint hints of berbal hops.
T: Like the smell, the taste some flavors of sweet malts along with hints of herbal hops, the latter of which contributes a light amount of bitterness that persists into the finish.
M: It feels a bit more than light-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink and flavorful compared to some of the other beers in the style.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.4/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clouded amber gold. No head. Nose is a fairly firm metallic with a bit of sugar peeking about as well. Flavor is bitter with a lemon citrus edge. Sweet as well, but just a faint touch. Metallic is the word here as that is the most dominant feature. Feel is nice on the bubble and a bit thicker on the liquid. Overall though the metallic flavors that are there kind of detract I think. I can't say it is anything exciting worth trying.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.45/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, if your girl starts actin' up, then you take her friend"
- Rapper's Delight, Sugar Hill Gang

Got to try a bit of this at the World Beer Festival in Durham last night. I met the founder of the brewery, who said it is currently being contract-brewed by someone upstate. Nice golden color, light floral aroma like a golden ale or high-class American lager. Very sweet, lightly malty palate. I was actually surprised at how sweet this beer is (I guess the name is pretty apt). Not really anything new, but a pleasant beer that would be good for a session on a warm day.

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Harlem Sugar Hill Ale from Harlem Brewing Company
77 out of 100 based on 46 ratings.