1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Hop Thief Ale - Malt Shovel Brewery

Hop Thief AleHop Thief Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

41 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 41
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 11.44%

Brewed by:
Malt Shovel Brewery visit their website

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: DaveFL1976 on 03-20-2006)
View: Beers (17) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Ratings: 41 | Reviews: 30 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of heygeebee


3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Growler from Warners. Many thanks to MrKennedy for sourcing.

Pours a completely clear dark amber. Fluffy white head. Lines of lace.

Aromas of peaches, mango, tangerines.

Taste is a fruit salad hit on the front palate, then a somewhat duller back palate. Hint of honey sweetness. Hops are there, but not in a zesty crisp way on back palate. After a while a certain staleness grows, sadly. Big plus - flavour lingers for a looong while.

Mouthfeel is a little oily, unusual for the low ABV. Medium weight. Carbonation a little low, maybe from the growler.

Definitely up there at the top of the James Squire range, if not the Mad Brewers...

Serving type: growler

10-17-2012 09:04:26 | More by heygeebee
Photo of MrKennedy


3.08/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

16oz pour at 30 Knots.

Pours amber in colour with some golden highlights. White foam on top provides some spotty lacing and retains well.

It has a nice passionfruit aroma, strong to start with and stays with it for some time. Not a lot else to compliment it though.

Taste is a bit of a mix. At first it was a little metallic, then some stale passionfruit, before improving with fresh passionfruit and a little bit of chalky sherbet. A little tangy later on as the sort of stale passionfruit back end has an encore. Good at times. Not good at others.

Medium bodied, decent bitterness and consistent with it. A little chalky which helps it. But the tang of the stale passionfruit comes back to haunt it and hurt the drinkability.

Decent, but done staleness really does hurt this beer. Could be quite good, shame this wasn't at that level though.

Serving type: on-tap

09-13-2012 08:29:48 | More by MrKennedy
Photo of Stew41


3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

There’s been a touch of hype around this beer in the past and from what I can see on this tasting mostly well founded. Fluffy head on pouring but fairly short lived; leaves a residual spotty frothy cover. Bouquet is very encouraging with very lifted aromatic notes of fresh tropical fruits and passion fruit…loads of character but not powerful like you might see in an equivalent US micro. More subdued in the mouth but still shows the very attractive fruity, aromatic hop character. More passionfruit early but the palate sharpens up (as expected) with a firm bitter finish and just a slightly bitter, hop resin ending. Good stuff from a generally over-rated (IMHO) brewer.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2011 13:03:55 | More by Stew41
Photo of eric5bellies


3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - Pours a dark honey colour with a large bubbled white head that reduces to a film.

S - Plenty oh piney notes here.

T - Hops, hops and more hops with a hint of sweetness at the finish. Mostly piney flavours balanced out by a little malt honey.

M - Light to medium body with well balanced carbonation.

D - The best one limited release from James Squires so far.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2010 14:51:35 | More by eric5bellies
Photo of dgilks


3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crystal clear copper colour with lots of visible bubbles flowing through the beer. Tight, lingering, 1 finger pale tan head with nice lacing.

Good aroma with grapefruit, passionfruit and a hint of menthol in the background. Sweet and juicy.

The flavour is good but disappointing compared to the aroma. Thin front palate with just a hint of malt and bitterness flows into a light, grapefruit hop flavour. The finish is a lingering bitterness. I can't help but feel that there is too little mid-palate depth to hold up to the back-palate finish.

Medium body with vibrant, above-average carbonation.

A tasty beer that just lacks a bit of depth through the mid-palate. Nonetheless, refreshing and worth a shot.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2009 03:24:15 | More by dgilks
Photo of Cs1987


3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Red, 1 finger of head which reduced. Good retention.

Smell - Plenty of fruity esters, mostly kiwi fruit.

Taste - Sort of like a milder version of the IPA, but here they have done a better job with the hop balance, creating a strong, bitter grapefruit flavour. The malt content is also higher than usual for an APA, but the malts don't stand out in the taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, carbonation is a little too high.

Drinkability - Again, like JS IPA but easier to drink.

Overall - Another very good beer from Malt Shovel.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2009 12:26:08 | More by Cs1987
Photo of BeerNutta


3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hop Thief Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery (2009)

A = Poured a dark copper with a thin foam head.

S = You couldnt smell the Hops at first. But as the beer warmed, the aroma of the hops and a hint of citrus started to come out.

T = For a JS beer this beer is definitely hoppy. The hop profile this year is not as crisp as the other years.

There is also a malt backbone to this beer with a hint of citrus orange. I cant help but feel, that this beer is nice but somehow lacking from other years.

M = Carbonated but not over carbonated. Good.

D = Very drinkable. Great to drink on a hot day.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2009 17:41:08 | More by BeerNutta
Photo of lamarr04


3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark ruby brown. clear with a thin off-white head. smell is mostly of sweet citrus hops with a bit of sweet grain. sweet citrus hits palate first with firm caramel malt backbone through the sip. finish is resinous bitterness. medium body with medium carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2009 05:52:13 | More by lamarr04
Photo of CrazyDavros


3.18/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber approaching a coppery brown. Small head fades rapidly.
Sweet floral hop aroma, some clean malt with a bit of caramel and toffee. Resinous, a hint of pine. Very enjoyable but not that complex.
Taste is too sweet - the hops don't manage to keep the sweet malt in check. There's a fair whack of resiny hop flavour, but next to no bitterness.
Undercarbed in my opinion. Almost watery.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2009 02:55:03 | More by CrazyDavros
Photo of ADZA


3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

After trying the first hop theif ale i was looking forward to this one and to be honest it was quite dissapointing i mean it wasnt a horrible beer just nowhere as good as the first one,it pours a orangey amber colour which leaves a two finger head,as like the first the smell of this beer is wonderful it is very hop driven notes of citrus,pine and passionfruit come thru and on taste it is citrusy with passionfruit flavours coming thur definately nowhere near as good as the first and couldnt see myself buying any of this in the future.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2009 13:01:53 | More by ADZA
Photo of LittleCreature


3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - 3.0
Poured a finger of rocky cream to beige coloured head over a bright amber to copper body. Head retention is somewhat lacking, same goes for lace.

Smell - 4.5
Nice! A very hop driven aroma of toasty malt, citrus, pine needles and passionfruit.

Taste - 3.5
Lots of flavour, but not as nice as the original Hop Theif. As expected, it very much a hop driven brew, bitterness is moderate for an American style pale ale, tastes of citrus zest, pine and biscuity malt. Finish is rather tinny, no doubt from the POR hops.

Mouthfeel - 3.5
Somewhat sticky and syrupy in the mouth, low to moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - 3.5
I probably wouldn't get it again as there are better APA choices out there. Not hard to drink though, quite pleasant.

Again, not as good as the last Hop Thief, but still a tasty, drinkable APA. Less Pride of Ringwood and this could have been excellent.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2009 09:54:29 | More by LittleCreature
Photo of juju7


3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber bronze with a good collar of foam that laced all the way to the bottom. Plenty of fresh hop flower and muted fruit notes on the nose. Low-med carbonation with a good malt backbone and prickly bitterness leading into a long finish. I wish they did this all year round.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2009 08:49:40 | More by juju7
Photo of SimmoGee


4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was suprised to see this as I was told that there was not going to be any Hop Thief this year. I am reviewing the Winter '09

A - A quick head that diffuses quite quickly. Pours a dark coppery colour with mild to moderate carbonation

S - A floral but metallic smell from the hops.

T - A tangy hop flavour that reminds me of strong honey.

M - A dry hoppy feel that lingers in the mouth

D - I vaguely recall last year's batch and it was quite smooth, sweeter and very drinkable. This one is nice but not quite as good.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2009 09:18:02 | More by SimmoGee
Photo of Finite


3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful amber colour, surprisingly small rocky head, little lacing. Strong thick carbonation, looks inviting

Smell is of noble floral hops paw paw and other tropical fruits. Nice bold flavours, strong hop flavours prominent from the start but well balanced with a complex, smooth malt profile.

High score in mouthfeel and drinkability makes this beer very easy to drink dispite its strong flavours. A good sessionable beer. If only it were easier to find.

Overall nothing amazing but a very tasty beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2009 09:33:02 | More by Finite
Photo of Macca


3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours very dark golden colour with a hint of red. OK white head which drops away to a thin covering.

When first poured all I get out of this is resinous hoppiness. As it opens up a bit the florals come through a bit stronger. A bit of sweetmess too. Passionfruit.

A pleasant drying bitterness on the palate. Some sweet maltiness.

Medium bodied.

Not bad especially since this is a style that doesn't usually rock my boat.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2009 07:20:42 | More by Macca
Photo of Stavage


4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had to pour it pretty hard to get a decent head, didn't retain so well but left an ok lacing. Colour is a light brown amber.

Smelled of tropical fruits. I got a whiff of paw paw straight away. That and your typical floral hops smell dominates. Did its job well in making me intrigued about the taste.

Crystal malts lend some sweetness to the malt which blends very well with the aromatic hops. A hint of that paw paw/tropical fruit comes through with the taste, though it's nice and subtle. I'm a bit confused to be honest, I actually hate paw paw but I'm enjoying this beer. Finishes with a nice bitter bite. Be warned though this is not a hop heads delight. Focus seems to be on the subtleties of flavour and the hop bitterness definitely won't bite your head off. Suits me just fine though. I think the balance is great.

Mouthfeel is good. Medium bodied, decent carbonation, pretty crisp, pretty dry. I could drink and enjoy a few of these.

Not what I expected but fortunately I was in the right mood to appreciate this brew for what it is. Seems pretty adaptable do, I think this would be an easy pairer for food

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2009 10:34:52 | More by Stavage
Photo of lacqueredmouse


3.38/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was quite phenomenal when it came out. As unfair as it is to review the old bottle I've had squirreled away for a couple of years, here goes...

Pours a golden yellow hue with good clarity. Thick and fluffy head of white foam. Lacing is great, but the head does dissipate quite severely after a while. Pretty nice looking though.

Odd light fruit/banana phenols on the nose. A tad buttery as well. I remember this being exceptionally pungent when fresh. It doesn't stand the test of time, but it's still reasonably pleasant.

Pretty flat on the palate too; I remember a sharp, resiny bitterness. Instead, we have a light butterscotch diacetyl character, and just a thin phenolic bitterness. Finish has a pleasant bitter dryness, but otherwise it's pretty thin. Mouthfeel is ok, still gives a bit of a lift.

Overall, it's still pretty drinkable in this condition, but this was far better when fresh. I will fondly remember this as one of MSB's best brews, and only hope that one day they will brew up some fresh bottles again.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2009 06:40:57 | More by lacqueredmouse
Photo of brendan13


4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a golden colour with an orange tinge. Medium head that quickly falls to a thin whisper. Leaves genourous lacing.
S - Citrusy and herby, undoubtedly from the Simcoe & Tomahawk hops. I'm also getting slight passioncfruit hints.
T - Unsuprisingly, the big hop aromas follow through with the taste with a bit of grassiness & light biscuity malt.
M - Medium body with a crisp finish.
D - Very drinkable beer. These guys know how to make a pretty decent drop, and so they should given they are a craft brewery with macro money & machines.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2007 09:01:28 | More by brendan13
Photo of rec


3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This years batch is the first I've encountered, and I was pretty impressed. While resembling Squires much loved Golden Ale it was different and intriguing, despite not neccessarily being better or worse.

The pour delivers a golden copper body with one finger head that dissipates quite quickly but laces remarkably well.

Straight after pour I stuck my nose over the bottle. The aroma is delicious, consisting of fresh hops, florals and unique light fruits such as lychee. Quite simply fantastic.

The taste is sweet, but not too sweet. Those lighter fruits come through too, with strong honey undertones upon first sip. Spice and hops are also present and help to balance that sweetness.

The aftertaste is flat and mildly bitter, and due to the carbonation probably won't be considered a session beer, which is a trait shared by most in the James Squire range.

I highly recommend giving this one a try, but I think I'll stick with the Amber Ale for my choice of Malt Shovel Brewery beers.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2007 07:58:15 | More by rec
Photo of willjansen


3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is from a 345ml bottle of the 2007 James Squire release. Been waiting a long time for this one... Poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Orangish-golden colour and very clear with decent amount of head - good finger of head on a light pour, which settles down at an average rate to leave a nice layer of lace on the surface of the beer and along the sides of the glass.

Smell - Fresh hops! Appropriate as it is a beer designed to celebrate the hop harvest. Citrusy, with floral and the fresh-cut hay notes that characterise good pale ales. Bitterness comes through in the nose with only a very light indication of malt presence.

Taste - Fruity with distinct spiciness as the sip tapes off to its conclusion. Bitterness throughout which lingers after-the-fact for quite a while.

Mouthfeel - A bit light on the carbonation for a pale ale, but not to point of offense. Very oily mouthfeel (due to the generous amount of fresh hops), leaving a dry finish.

Drinkability - Great beer by Malt Shovel. Too bad it only comes out in limited releases (like the Rum Rebellion Porter, which is also amazing). I rate it as quite drinkable for a pale ale, according to my tatses... grab some while you can and enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2007 11:02:33 | More by willjansen
Photo of jarmby1711


3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was , for me ,the much anticipated 2007 version.
It pours a golden orange colour and left little head.It had an unusual amount of bubble sticking to the glass making it lok very un ale like.
The smell was herbaceous
The flavour is initially sweet fruity hops with a good balance of tartness The flavour finishes somewhat meekly , but enjoycbaly with a solid maltiness.It sits balance in the mouth.
This is a big time quaffable beer , which reminds me of a Resches draught from long ago.
It just doesnt seem to have a real edge of classiness to it , but is a great beer all the same

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2007 22:51:03 | More by jarmby1711
Photo of joecast


4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

hop thief version 2.0
best before 11/07

had this on tap a couple weeks ago. wasnt too impressed, actually, i was disappointed then with the aroma after being so impressed with version 1.0
we'll see what the bottle brings.

damn! what stands out on first impressions is how clear this beer is. light amber with little carbonation. forms a small off white head that settles to a few stray bubbles with little lacing.

now, the showcase of the beer. sniff...sniff...
hmm, its nice. but much more "standard apa" than v1.0
citrus, a bit spicy, some floral and sweet malt hints. missing the "exotic" feel of v1.0 which was easily the high point of the beer for me.

well talking about the taste seems a bit unnecessary now. anyway, good hop flavor and long bitter finish.
trying to put this beer in perspective. being a hophead, it finishes a bit flat, but anymore hops and it probably throws things out of whack.

man, would LOVE to try the two versions side by side. just shows what a change in hop variety can do. keep 'em coming james.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2007 10:32:12 | More by joecast
Photo of rjimlad


3.13/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I drank some of this last season and all I can remember is liking it. I can't compare with this season at all. This one poured into a schooner glass leaving a short-lived head but light lacing, There was an initial herbaceous aroma from the hops but nothing I could put a finger on. There is a good balance of malt and hop with pleasant bitterness but it's not that interesting. At 5% abv I found the alcohol a little too present which may make the mouthfeel too sharp for me. Maybe at 4.5% there might be some smoothness to balance the pretty fine flavours. In wine terms you'd call this "austere". Temperature is the key to getting the best from this drop and I'd suggest around 8-10 degrees. I think I started too cool and it improved in the glass over time. I had a Little Critters straight after this and was astonished at its superiority. Hop thief is pretty OK and I'd be happy to drink it again but I would buy it over LC.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2007 07:00:30 | More by rjimlad
Photo of Kulrak


3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep orangish golden color with fluffy white head that takes a while to fade away. The smell is faintly of spicy and citrusy hops, and not much else. The taste is very very hoppy. Citrus and floral hops, lots of hops. Not a whole lot of bitterness though. There's some malty sweetness there along with it. I'm really liking this. The finish is a little sour from all the hops, but if you like hops, it's worth it. The mouthfeel is creamy and heavy, not a whole lot of carbonation. Overall, this beer is very drinkable, especially if you're a hop lover.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2007 07:31:32 | More by Kulrak
Photo of goodbyesoberday


4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear and gold with a moderate head that dissipates. Aroma of mandarines and rockmelon with a hint of fleeting cinnamon/nutmeg spice. Mandarine and slight rockmelon continues into the flavour with a nice light malty presence. Some slight sulphur qualities dissipate. Good strength of hop flavour plus malt-hop balance lend the beer a certain sweetness that is refreshing rather than cloying.

Lovely beer and well worth buying. I had heard reports that the new season's batch was lacking on hop flavour but the case I purchased lives up to its name.

[edit] Mulling over another bottle a day later, I think the malty sweetness is a little too overbalanced for what I think this beer is trying to achieve.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2007 06:58:55 | More by goodbyesoberday
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Hop Thief Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.