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Whale's Tale Pale Ale - Cisco Brewers Inc.

Whale's Tale Pale AleWhale's Tale Pale Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

845 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 845
Reviews: 347
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 13.97%

Brewed by:
Cisco Brewers Inc. visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
English Pale Ale |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Quaffer on 12-07-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 845 | Reviews: 347 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ManekiNeko


4.7/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 mL bottle served lightly chilled in a pint glass, though I think a tulip should have been used.

Appearance: Cloudy orange amber topped by an explosively huge yellowish head. A nice 1/4" layer of foam was retained all throughout consumption and some nice splotchy blobs of foam were left on the side of the glass. I, too, experienced the excessive foam problem others have reported. The oversized head does go away eventually, though, so it's all good.

Smell: Nice fruity, buttery, and yeasty sweet aromas. Toffee, oranges, vanilla, oak, nuts, and apple smells. Slightly odd for a pale ale (or IPA as the label legend says), but this is still quite an incredible nose.

Taste: Peppery and grassy hops splash across the tongue, leaving yeasty and bready malts in their wake. Tastes very "Belgian" to me. Me likey, likey a lot. Slight alcohol taste in the background, but in a good way.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body with a nice clean finish from the effervescence. Alcohol is well-masked and overall, the beer is very dry.

Drinkability: If, as others noted, this is a British style (I)PA, then I think I might have to seek out some others of this ilk. I've not had much experience with the old school style, but I was reminded more of a Belgian-style ale here. I'm thinking if Unibroue made a pale ale or IPA, it would taste a helluva lot like this. I will definitely be seeking this out when in Boston for Extreme Beer Fest.

A hearty thanks to my girlfriend for getting this for my birthday last week.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2003 03:52:34 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of doho95fu


4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this both on tap and bottled recently, but since the bottles were explosively over-carbonated, I will review the tap version.

The beer is copper-orange and clear with a medium head, not foamy, but bubbly. The smell is hoppy, floral and fruity. The taste had hops, but it was not overly strong. The thing I seemed to notice most was the sweetness of the brew - real fruity. Smooth finish and very drinkable. Would love to get my hands on some more of their brews. Also, really cool bottles and caps.

Serving type: on-tap

11-13-2003 19:52:54 | More by doho95fu
Photo of UnionMade


3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a hazy autumnal amber, slightly orangey, topped with a short dense head. Retention is excellent, never diminishing through the entire pint whatsoever. Some rapidly rising carbonation bubbles can be seen floating to the head.
The aroma is very balanced, certainly in the english style. Sweet pale malt, with that unmistakable Maris Otter aroma. Perhaps a touch of crystal malt, but very slight. A buttered popcorn kind of smell, with some oak notes and a light nuttiness. A mild Goldings hop presence, equally citric and herbal, with a bit of earthiness. Mild esters, presenting some kiwi and pear.
The flavor starts with sweet Maris Otter pale malt. The carbonation is very high, with a mouthfilling feeling. Some buttery toastiness comes through toward the middle, with light estery kiwi and pear. Light oaky nuttiness, reappearing in the aftertaste. Very mild Goldings hops bring up the rear, providing an earthy floral flavor, without as much citrus as was present in the aroma. Some apparent alcohol in the finish, as the beer warms, with the nuttiness becoming more apparent. Medium bodied. A malty, nutty aftertaste that lingers for quite a while. Very complex in the depth of flavor. Something new appears in each sip.
The beer tastes slightly old, with the woody flavor lending some papery flavor. The carbonation is way too high for my tastes, although it simmers down as the beer sits a while. If the carbonation was smoothed down a little, and the woodiness wasn't so apparent, this would be a spectacular beer. As it is, it's a good, but not exceptional pale ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2003 04:07:24 | More by UnionMade
Photo of PatandDavid


3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Checked this one out at Redbones the other day...poured a slightly cloudy amber, didn't note any real head. I thought it had a slightly sugary aroma, and some mint family notes (don't ask which one, I couldn't tell)...Anyway, the main thing I noticed was a solid malt body, with a flowery hop finish. I found this beer a bit surprising, so double-checked with Sakaroo (in tha house) who assured me it was supposed to taste this way. I think I was looking for a slightly more bitter finish, but could not find it in this brew. Will want to try again. pat

Serving type: on-tap

10-15-2003 01:36:12 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of John

New York

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

Hazy peach/orange color. Big frothy off-white. Fruit aromas immediately greet the nose, pineapple, pear, orange, tame citrus hop. A thin layer of foam sticks to the lip as the first sip is taken. The flavor incorporates the above mentioned aromas, along with a well balanced grainy/worty malt that renders a smooth as silk mouthfeel. The hops are prominent but not overwhelming. The balance may be near perfect with this brew. The aroma and flavor hops are right on the money. Well calculated bitterness is countered by a semi-sweet grain middle, then a fruity citrus hop finish. Satisfying and drinkable. Had the pleasure of enjoying on tap at Anam Cara - 25 Sep, 03. I also saw this at Downtown Liquors – Davis Square for $10.95 for a four pack. Are you effin’ kidding me? Aside from being overpriced in the bottle, Whale’s Tale Pale is a fine brew.

Serving type: on-tap

10-01-2003 17:02:20 | More by John
Photo of ElGuapo

New Jersey

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

Another Whopper of a head from Cisco. The slightly hazy golden orange brew sits below a massive pillow of white foam that will take all day to die and cover the glass with lace.
Aroma is fruity and filled with floral hops. It is one great whiffer.

Tingly carbonation dies off and has a nice smooth feel. The body is medium; light enough for a summer brew, but full enough for a cold weather drinker. There is a little spice to it. A bit of grassy hops combine for a smoky flavor. Pale malts balance very well. The finish packs a bit of sweetness. There is a great complexity to this brew. The spicy aftertaste lets you know that you are done with only one sip, and there is a full 750 ml of enjoyment ahead of you.

This is a great beer. It is very unique, yet even with a very different style, it is very drinkable. Cisco makes magic happen.

Thanks a million VENOM for this wonderful brew!

Serving type: bottle

08-14-2003 13:13:51 | More by ElGuapo
Photo of francisweizen


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

#10 - big 750ml bottle that is capped, not corked...

No over-carbonation on the pour...yay! This beer poured a nice orange-y colour with a nice, white head. The aromas were of fruits, yeast, and citrus-y hops. The taste was fruity, citrus-y and yummy. The mouthfeel was nice and medium-bodied and the drinkability was excellent!


Serving type: bottle

08-05-2003 14:41:39 | More by francisweizen
Photo of bewareOFpenguin


3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

If you go to Nantucket, it's here, it's there, it's everywhere. Pours a light orange, slight head. The taste is slightly pale, nothing biting here. The hops are there but, nothing overwhelming. Just a slightly above average beer, good for a long ferry ride.

Serving type: bottle

07-21-2003 14:17:39 | More by bewareOFpenguin
Photo of TXHops


3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice presentation—Gewurztraminer style, brown 750 Ml, cap-finished bottle with a sophisticated looking brown label, matching the style of the other Cisco labels. No dating system was evident. This sure is a pricey offering though, at almost $7 for a 750 of pale ale… The beer pours a slightly hazed, orangey-amber with a massive, bottle-conditioned head of soapy-looking beach foam, which had an interesting tendency to collapse like a soufflé. I had a hard time coaxing much of an aroma out of this one—there were some hops, but mostly I smelled yeast. The flavor started the same way-yeasty, with some hops underneath. Talk about clean: the intensely-prickly carbonation washed away any flavor before it had a chance to take root in my mouth. A more vigorous top-up pour released an even larger head, but also allowed some of the subtle, pale maltiness to come through. The bottle claims this to be an IPA style, though the web page makes a seemingly contradictory claim of an English style beer. I’d put my money on the latter, as I certainly don’t taste any American hops. The web page goes on to mention a “kiss of Kent Goldings”, which seem to be evident in their tart earthiness, though not abundant. Style buffs may call this an English IPA. Personally, I wish it had more hops and/or more malt character. Sub 1.070 OG beers can be wonderful to drink, but it helps if there’s something interesting going on—interesting, estery yeast strain, aromatic malts, bold hop expression, Maris Otter sweetness—just give me something… This beer’s biggest attraction was its simplicity, its cleanliness and its spritzy yeastiness. It’s possible that this is an old bottle, but it tasted fresh enough. Boring overall…

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2003 20:24:17 | More by TXHops
Photo of nomad


4.33/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dimmed orange, just about transparent, with a big white head that was bubbly and pillowy, slow to fall, and left a fair amount of bits of stain. Also had some small and floating carbonation and a little lace.

Smelled of fruit: apples, pears, grapefruit, and some hop leaf notes, too. Taste was a tasty malt, a fairly pleasing bitter, nice and some pear sweetness that came on late. Had a smooth transition through each of its simple parts. A patient but quality pale ale (this beer is NOT AN IPA); mellow but with a good body.

Great mouthfeel: smooth on the drink, just enough drying afterwards, and a soft leathery finish. Extremely easy to throw down, inviting in its mellow but firmly present character. Had true fruity scents and flavors through out but enough bitterness to give some balance in the end. I liked the nice fruit burp.

A New England rare treat, find it if you can. Apparently the results vary, but I've never had a problem.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2003 10:21:05 | More by nomad
Photo of MJR


3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased in Boston the weekend of the AoBF...

750ml bottle with clean and elegant labeling. Very classy presentation...

Appearance: Having skimmed the other reviews for this beer, I expected heavy carbonation and an almost-out-of-control head. My expectations were fully met... Pours mostly clear with a dull, dark copper color. The head settles down to a foamy, billowy inch-thick cap and leaves a fair amount of lace.

Smell: I expected a really hoppy aroma, but I was suprised to find that the hops are barely there. What shines the most is the chalky yeast and bready malt. What hops I smell are citrusy in character.

Taste: The taste is a combination of several things: medicinal phenolics, chalky yeast, bready and slighty caramelly malt, buttery diacytel, and citrusy (lemon) hops. The balance between these various flavors is out of whack, with the phenolics being way too noticable and the hop bitterness and flavors too faint for what the bottle calls an IPA. The breadiness also gives the impression of freshly baked bread. Interesting flavor profile...

Mouthfeel: Overly carbonated with a light, spritzy mouthfeel. There's a nice crisp dryness, but the overcarbonation takes over, robbing the beer of it's body.

Drinkability: Average... This could be a enjoyable brew if they tweaked the recipe and/or brewing process to get the flavor balance right, and lowered the carbonation to an acceptable level. For an IPA, the hops were practically nonexistent. A decent beer, but with considerable flaws...

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2003 10:30:04 | More by MJR
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Large bubbly head that goes quick. Cloudy amber color - traces of yeast - and faint nose of malt and hops. For a pale it isn't loaded with hops like most are. Starts with a malt/hop mix and finishes with a mild hoppy flavor, it is better after warming some. Look for a black bottle.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2003 18:35:18 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Jarod


4.55/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

#200 for Jarod
Bottle size: bomber – 750
Bottle conditioned and unfiltered

This beer poured into the glass a somewhat cloudy golden brown color. The heads was sticky, creamy and foamy, and it was a light cream/white color. It produced a lace that seemed to just simply stretch and stick to the insides of the glass. The aromas that came from the bottle and the glass were of hops, sweet fruits, caramel, malt, yeast, flowers, spice bite (peppercorns), slight Christmas tree, ash and earth. I was surprised that all this came from the glass, but the smells seemed to keep coming each time I poured some into my glass. The flavors that came from the glass were of hops - a good amount but not over powering – fruit, pine needles, flowers – dandelions – roasted malt, ash, some earthy flavors and alcohol. It left a light hoppy aftertaste across the tongue and mouth, but again not overpowering. This is a light and very refreshing beer. Crisp and clean and very smooth beer. Very drinkable.

Thanks to Loren (VENOM) for sending this to me. I made this my #200 because I knew that any beer that he sent me would never disappoint and would be worthy of a century mark or 2.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2003 08:13:18 | More by Jarod
Photo of Riggo


3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My thanks to jward for the gift of this local, hard-to-find brew from Nantucket. Like him (see his review) I had to call for back-up to help me tame the "head from Hell" on this beer. Came out of the bottle with a head that seemed to be feeding off itself and multiplying at an alarming rate.

The color is a hazy, attractive golden copper. Once it settled a little, the off-white head has a very airy, loosely-beaded quality and eventually settles down to nothing. The smell of candyish apple and pineapple is immediate, followed by caramel malt and citrusy, fruity hops. As the beer warms, smell of apricot. On palate, the much-too-intense carbonation dances all through the mouth. The taste is of fruit--apple, orange, pineapple. Some caramel malt and earthier toffeeish flavors struggle to make an appearance, but they don't have a chance against the candyish fruit and CO2 action. Never cloying, this ale is somehow balanced without the hops ever being very distinct. As it warms, fruity elements take on malty, estery qualities that begin to remind one of Abbey-style ales.

On the last sip, one begins to wonder where it all went wrong. This ale seems to have some real substance but it just never comes together harmoniously. I'm certainly hoping that the carbonation issue with my sample was simply a fluke but its worth reviewing for just that reason--to help keep BAs informed.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2003 12:01:48 | More by Riggo
Photo of jward


3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer pours copper-orange, somewhat cloudly, with a massive white head. The exceptional nose presents a bouquet of orange, banana, pear and piney hops -- this brew smells like a basket of fresh fruit. At first taste, the flavor is tangy and fruity, followed by a malty backbone and a long, bitter finish. After the fizziness subsides, the mouthfeel is somewhat dense and works nicely to complement the flavorful finish.

Note: I have had repeated problems with the carbonation and the size of the head on this beer (multiple samples, different purchases over a period of three months). Even with a very delicate pour, the head is out of control (i.e., well over three inches), and this makes it difficult for me to judge the beer's appearance (distorted), mouthfeel (way too fizzy) and drinkability (annoying). I plan on returning to this one in a few months with the hope that these problems will be corrected, so that I can adjust my review accordingly.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2003 15:18:26 | More by jward
Photo of Thrasher


4.43/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, not the 750. A kickass pale. Hazy muted copper with small head, full fruity aroma. Big bready malts swoop down right off the bat, creating a sweet, fruity malt profile. An extended, excellent hop finish takes over with strong grapefruit elements and some very light grasses all the way at the end of the finish. Overall this is an expertly balanced beer that keeps you coming back for more. Would be a fine session were it not so deceptively strong (6.78 abv). Pairs perfectly with roast chicken, and I'm sure it would treat other meats just as fine.

1/24/03 Currently drinking the 750mL version. Noticeably more carbonation, with a denser creamier head that works very well in smoothing out the beer. Also a more prominent yeast flavor, dare I say overabundant, which I have noticed in other Cisco beers. While this is still very good, I have to recommend the smaller bottle which will seem perverse to many seasoned beer drinkers. However, the smaller bottle has a truer pale ale flavor, with less yeast, sweeter malts and more prominent hops. It is also more bang for your buck: my 4pack of 12-ozers was 9.99, while I believe the 750 is typically 6.99 (although it some places it may be cheaper).

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2003 17:39:23 | More by Thrasher
Photo of Gusler


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

On the pour dreary deep amber to burnished copper color with a portly head and the texture frothy, color a light tan with oodles of fine lace to coat the glass. A light scent of the hop flower, which blends well with the orange like sweetness and the underlying malt, caps this fine nose. Malt and somewhat sweet beginning, the top middle of the road in feel the finish gratifying in its hops spiciness, the carbonation agreeable with the aftertaste dry and lingering. A very drinkable and quite refreshing beer, which once again I wish, were more readily available here in the destitute West.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2003 15:31:57 | More by Gusler
Photo of sponberg

New York

4.22/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pint at Redbones. Deep golden/amber with a vanilla head. Citric hops, apple, and an almost honey like maltiness in the aroma lead to a very well balanced hoppy/biscuity/fruit malty flavor. The finish gets a touch more bitter, but it retains its character through the end. Almost dangerously drinkable as a summer brew.

The bottled version I had a week earlier was much more citric -almost tasted like a cross between the draft version and a Berlinerweisse - and was bottle conditioned with Cisco's typically explosive yeast. Maybe an old bottle? It was still eminently quaffable.

This brewery's beers all seem to be a half step off style - which, as someone who never colored inside the lines, I appreciate.

Serving type: on-tap

09-28-2002 21:21:48 | More by sponberg
Photo of doerickson


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

Deep golden with an orange hue; minimal white head with little retention (the bartender at Redbones tonight was not concerned with pouring beers with any head whatsoever). Nose is mostly floral/citric hops. Taste is primarily hoppy with a citric bite; a toasted malt flavor becomes apparent as the beer warms. This is a brew I'd return to with no hesitation.

Serving type: on-tap

09-26-2002 21:20:17 | More by doerickson
Photo of Murph


4.58/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice cloudy peach color with a huge frothy white head that dissipates rather slowly and leaves a monster lace all the way down the glass. The aroma is of subtle, earthy hops with a bit of fruitenes thrown in and some light biscuity malt. The flavor starts off with some mild biscuity maltiness before going to a great light fruity flavor that is accompanied by just enough hop bitterness for the rest of the brew. This is one seriously carbonated brew, as all of Cisco's beers seem to be be, but it remains creamy and crisp and exceedingly drinkable. I need to try some Cisco brews on draught and that is all their is to it.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2002 22:53:34 | More by Murph
Photo of Todd


3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at Bukowski's in Boston, MA. A very nice brew with a very bready character, smooth caramel and ample sweetness. Fruity sweetness rides along the beer's backbone. Hop bitterness is low, just enough to balance.

I'd definitely have this again on-tap, and in fact prefer it over the bottle.

Serving type: on-tap

06-28-2002 05:02:01 | More by Todd
Photo of beernut7


4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cisco lists this one as an IPA, but its bitterness is closer to an American pale. The brew is unfiltered which is fine from the tap, but creates way too much carbonation from the bottle. Whale's Tale has a distinct earthy/grassy character which definitely is a plus. This is a unique beer in its style and worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2002 12:13:47 | More by beernut7
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Whale's Tale Pale Ale from Cisco Brewers Inc.
83 out of 100 based on 845 ratings.