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Geary's Hampshire Special Ale - D.L. Geary Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Geary's Hampshire Special AleGeary's Hampshire Special Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

378 Reviews

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Reviews: 378
Hads: 601
Avg: 3.93
pDev: 15.78%
Wants: 32
Gots: 44 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
D.L. Geary Brewing Company visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-30-2001

Once Maine’s legendary seasonal specialty, Hampshire is now available year round. Hampshire has a huge toasted malt flavor balanced by assertive hoppiness. The finish is long and lingering with the malt and hop notes blending with alcohol warmth. Original gravity - 1070; alcohol by volume - 7%; two row English malts (pale, crystal and chocolate); Cascade, Mt. Hood and East Kent Golding hops.
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Reviews: 378 | Hads: 601
Photo of hbis2gut
4.94/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

WOW, this guy does a few beers and does them well. This is the showcase beer for this brewery. A strong ale that gives off malt and hop aromas rather than booze fumes. Mouthfeel is perfect in my opinion. Too often these types of ales are sticky or too heavily bodied. Highly recommended.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.76/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stumbled upon this obviously hard to get and highly rated ESA in Brooklyn while browsing brew as I often do. Very excited to sample this one!

Poured a golden straw in color w/ ruby red hues. A thin cream head produced medium amounts of sticky lacing. Looks like an ESA. The nose was aromas of biscuit, herbs/spices, and fresh cut hay. Probably the only knock on this brew was the nose which was somewhat boring. The taste started off w/ flavors of herb spiceness, which lead into light caramel/toffee, and finished w/ lingering hop bitterness and basement mustiness. Medium bodied and lush. As far as drinkability goes, I could drink this all day! Will most likely sneak 1-2 bottles of this brew into the next Penguins hockey game I attend.

Overall, this brew lived up to it's high rating in the ESA category, and will be climbing after my review. Loved this brew and it is right up there on my favortites in the style list w/ Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale from Yards. What more can you ask for, an ESA produced in Maine that can compete w/ if not edge the legendary Fuller's 1845.

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Photo of nortmand
4.75/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours rich copper red, with some white foam and moderate lacing.
Wonderful smell! Flowery and rich, while maintaining an assertive alcohol presence.
Delicious maltiness, with moderate upfront hop taste. Ends wonderfully bitter and with a slow alcoholic burn.
Smooth, somewhat subtle carbonation perfect for this beer.
Despite the assertive alcohol in this beverage, very drinkable. Would be great on a cold winter night.
A nearly perfect beer.

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Photo of cdizinno
4.73/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle with no dates.

A: Rich copper color with moderate haziness and lacing.

S: Not much there. Some caramel and toasted maltiness. Buttery biscuit.

T&M: Nice mildly sweet maltiness that has a good hoppy kick in there. Smooth with light carbonation and a medium to full body. Honey and toffee maltiness with a fruity, citrus hop taste. Ever so mild piney hop bitterness in the background. Excellent!!

I'm originally from New England and was never a huge fan of Geary's Pale Ale, but this stuff is INCREDIBALLY GOOD!

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Photo of mophie
4.7/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had heard good things about this beer, and I am not disappointed! It's a gorgeous beer, deep copper, with a creamy slight tan head. Smell is malty, caramel and molasses, with a touch of mild, floral hoppiness. The maltiness really comes through in the taste, again creamy, caramel, molasses, nice and smooth. Finishes with a mild hop twang, and a slight bitterness at the back of the tongue. Gentle spicy alcohol notes as well. Very, very nice.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.67/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a bit of a partisan here -- this is probably my favorite all-around beer. There are different brews that excel in different occassions, of course, but this one, to me, is a brilliant all-rounder.

This brew pours a rich, coppery tan that is crystal clear. The head is white and is best enjoyed at one finger (or perhaps just a bit more). The nose is a wonderful burst of hops; not overpowering like, for example, some IPAs, but comfortingly spicy and complex. The taste sets this beer apart: the hop aroma is backed up here by a pleasing bitterness and not a little spiciness, but the malt mixture used by Geary's complements the hops exceptionally well, and adds a hint of sweetness to go along with the hops. I find this beer to be exceptionally drinkable, especially for a brew clocking in at 7% ABV... but one does need to be respectful of that figure.

A couple of additional comments. First off, by all means, if you get an opportunity to taste this in a cask-conditioned state, go for it. I know that the Great Lost Bear in Portland, ME, has been the recipient of a few special kegs of this stuff over the years, including a cask I had the privilege of sampling at the brewery.

Finally, Geary's Hampshire Special Ale provides an opportunity for some Irish Car Bomb-type fun. Perhaps this is blasphemy on this site, I don't know, but take my advice and, sometime, drop a shot of primo bourbon into a glass of Hampshire Special. The flavors complement each other very, very well. Enjoy!

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A brew with a deep gold/red color and a decent off white (tan) head. The head last and give way to a sticky lace that races to the bottom of the glass.
Aroma is spice and caramel. Hints of honey and a small hint of alcohol are present.
Taste is fantastic, there is malt, and caramel, spices, honey, fruit and that hint of alcohol are all going across the tongue. It is well balanced with all the flavors going on and a well done brew. I could enjoy this beer all the time. If you see this one on the self, don’t pass it buy it is well worth the try.

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Photo of MaineBeerMan
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's here and it's still good. The 2002-2003 Geary's HSA is out. Coppery brown in color with a decent light beige head that left some lacing. Sweet carmel aroma with a hint of fruitiness and hops. Taste starts out big with lots of malty sweetness and a smooth almost creamy mouthfeel.

Seems to have maybe more hops than in previous years. Finishes with a little drying hoppy bitterness and you can feel the alcohol warming you on the way down.

This beer is still one of my favorites and I wish David Geary would make it available year round.

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Photo of purplehops
4.58/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 - 2003 release

Hampshire Special Ale pumped a light copper color with a firm white head that clung to the glass and your mouth and lips. The aroma was Munich and Biscuit malts with what seemed like some peat smoked malt along with fruity yeast and floral hop notes. The taste started out with a rush of malt sweetness that was quickly balanced by hop bitterness and some citrus notes. The finish was a smooth malty flavor along with caramel, orange, and spicy hop bitterness with a touch of alcohol. Aftertaste was a big malt and alcohol taste lingering long into the afternoon with a hoppy profile popping up every now and then. Mouthfeel was very very very smooth with a nice alcohol warmth to it.
Overall a "Very" Special Ale! If you thought the bottle version was good....
Once again Dave has outdone himself. IMHO this is what Maine beer is all about.

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Photo of markskar
4.57/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my "go-to" beer. It's brewed just up the road in Portland so it's always fresh around here. I'll give anyone who rates this at less than a B+ the benefit of the doubt and assume their sample may not have been as its peak freshness. Nice abv at 7.0 and very drinkable--perhaps too much so (at least that's what my wife says).

A: Clear dark amber. Nice head with consistently good lacing.

S: Oak and a complex fruitiness that I can't quite put my finger on.

T: The perfect balance of malt and hops. Not too sweet, not too bitter, and while the alcohol taste is there, it isn't overpowering. Touch of caramel, bit of toffee. As with all English-style ales, it has the standard oakiness to it, but that too is just right and doesn't overpower the other complex flavors.

M: Not too thick and not over-carbonated. Keeps me coming back for more. Day after day.

D: Already stated above, but perhaps a bit too drinkable. Some reviewers seemed to feel that it's too heavy for summer-time drinking, but I think it's refreshing any time of year.

Personal favorite, can't say enough good things about it. We're blessed with the availability of a great assortment of great beers in Portsmouth (including our hometown favorite, the illustrious Smutty!), but this one will always have a special place in my heart.

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Photo of StevieW
4.56/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Shiny clear, copper color, rich golden tinged bubbly foam filled beige head. Fills an American pint glass perfectly with an full 2 inch head. A beauty to behold, a visually striking beer.
Rich full aromos of candied apples, carmel, and rum soaked cherries. Very fresh and seasonal. First taste combines the seasonal sweetness with a sharp bitter hop snap. Bitterness is super smooth and well matched with the fruit filled finish. Clean and crisp flavor combinations nothing lingers, except an urge to have another sip. Hints of butterscotch are noticed, but not in a negative way at all. This beer is medium bodied, lighter than I expected. I have it as a cross between a Geary's Halloween Ale, A Celebration Ale, and maybe the perfect ESB, but it is listed as a Strong/Old Ale. This beer grabs your attention and keeps it. Incredibly easy to drink, I am shocked my glass is already finished. I expected this to be along the lines of an Anchor OSA, but it is more toward a Celebration Ale in body without the fresh piney hop presence. But make no mistake this is a taste all it's own and very much worth seeking out. I need to get more of this, somebody please visit Florida with a suitcase full of it. Cheers to JohnnyP for the sample, I can see how he raves about this one. This is no mere beer, this one recieves my highest compliment...
Magic in a glass !

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.55/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a clear medium amber with ruby in the center and orange around the fringe. Head was a good two fingers of thick foam but dissipated quickly to a large bubbled froth. As always with Geary's and other similar breweries out of Portland I get no lacing, no remaining head, and a dead looking ale after a while. It ends up looking like I'm drinking iced tea. I would have to say the body/color puts it above "okay" but the liveliness or lack thereof really affects it and makes it dull.

S - Deep nutty aroma, with toffee and caramel malt notes, lots of fruity-ness as well as diacetyl, butter, biscuit, slight metallic character, and slight warming alcohol. No discernible hops, smells on par with the style and very approachable.

T - Taste is a complex deep nutty toffee malt character, loads of toasty bread and biscuit. Lots of buttery/diacetyl/ringwood yeast flavor dominates the finish, however is balanced well with the malt character and compliments it instead of overpower it. Good bite of bitter hops with lingering butter and toffee notes finish it off. To me the taste is perfect for the style.

M - Thick with low carb, a little hot at the end, slightly rough. This to me is a slow sipper, one to savor the nuances of the malt character that is deep and delicious.

O - Very English and very Portland. No matter how many newer more inventive breweries pop up in this state, the old school open fermented "Yorkshire" inspired ales with ringwood yeast in my opinion are sort of the foundation of Maine brewing, and Gear's HSA to me is some sort of the Pièce de résistance. A decadent deluge of English inspired flavor done in the old world style.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.54/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to SheepNutz for providing me this beer in a trade. It pours a deep amber to slightly deep red in color. The head starts about a finger high, but falls to just ring the top with sparse cover. What a nose. I love malt and I love hops. This give me the best of both worlds. The malt is giving me caramel with a rich toffee, almost buttery tone as well. The hops blend really well into the malt, but I get some citrusy notes from those. Very rich flavor, like a super rich caramel floods my taste buds. There is a fantastic hop bitterness dncing on my tongue after swallowing the beer. Good good and good. The beer is thick, but not as thick as I would have expected. This is a trade-off in my book, as it increases the drinkability. For the full flavor, this beer is very drinkable. Just a good beer.

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Photo of Lupe
4.52/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich copper topped with a healthy off white head. Great retention and lots of sticky lace left behind lace.

Hoppy aroma with citrus and spice. Sweetness enters the nose after the hops, adding caramel, honey, and biscuit malt.

Starts off spicy with lots of hops - herbal with some citrus and spice. Malt sweetness kicks in some caramel and toffee, honey, toasted bread, and a distinct fruitness. Alcohol does not show at all. Awesome combination of hops and malt. At times very hoppy and then bursting with malty goodness, with a seamless transition. Delicious.

Full bodied, smooth and rich. Mild carbonation fits the beer well. Great drinkability - really leaves you wanting more. A top notch beer.

Big thanks to charlesw for sending this my way in Beer Powerball.

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

They still sell it in Shaw's (local supermarket)!! I picked it up last night and brought it home. Cracked one while cooking dinner. Nice white head. I tasted those great hops with the first sip. Then the bitterness. This is the best seasonal beer. I anticipate "when the weather sucks" so I can drink it. I have been known to hold on to six packs of this into August.

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Photo of edchicma
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mmmmmmm...Beautifully rounded brew...Hoppy and malt aromas invite you to savor this brew. A beautiful dark copper with a small head...color alone suggests rounded balance. Taste is nice and hoppy but with enough of a malt reminder to round out the mouthfeel. Slight aftertaste reminds you it is 7% ABV. Extremely drinkable...the only worry I have is that it is so rounded and smooth that I might be tempted to drink too many, but is that really a problem?

Note: I tried this off the shelf in August 2003...As it is a seasonal brew, I have to add that it certainly held its character beyond the March date mentioned on the brewer's website. By the way, there was no date on my bottle.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper color with steady carbonation. It forms a creamy off-white head that leaves sheets of lacing. The aroma is of sweet caramel malts, with a honey and breadiness. It has a slight bit of alcohol is the aroma too, kinda like a bit of rum cake.

The flavor is of caramel malts and honey as well. It has a slight toastiness and breadiness too. There is slight hop spiciness, but the caramel malt play through more. It is sweet at first, but then immediately turns drying for the remainder of the sip.

It is smooth and almost creamy, but drying as well. An interesting feel. It masks the 7% well. I wish I had another....I would love to try this fresh. Very nice. Thanks Paulie.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper color with streams of carbonation surfacing at a nice clip. Thin muddy looking brown head adorns the top and dwindles down to a collaring within a minute. Lacing is spotty, but nice. The aroma is quite nice. A thick malt presence blends with some sweet fruity tones. Toffee and caramel apple. And then there's also some nuttiness, wood and a little smoke. Nice blend. Some alcohol hits my palate first. A bit of a sting, but not out of character in the context of this beer. It blends nicely with the wooden barrel character and slight smoke I find in this beer. The malts make their presence known with caramel, toffee, biscuit and a little toasted character. I like the sweet aspect of this beer. Candied apple comes to mind. Not cloying in the least. Just delicious.

I do not know if there is a bigger advocate of one beer than JohnnyP and this one. I thank my lucky stars (and JohnnyP) I had a chance to try it (and cellar one).

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Photo of Darkale
4.48/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark copper clear body with a thick, bone-colored head that is rocky and resilient. Very good lacing.

Yeasty and sweet mix in the aroma. Faint but pleasant.

Taste is smooth, maple syrupy, with a slight, almost English-ale-like sourness at the end. Chewy and sweet in the mouth. Delicious.

This is a very sweet, full, rich, and ungodly drinkable beer. I put away four of these on a Sunday afternoon before I knew what I was doing. A special ale, certainly, and a new favorite for me.

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Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz semi-fat brown with a gold foil twisty. Winter 01-02 on bottle to denote what year it was brewed for.

Appearance: Rich copper colour with light brownish highlights, a healthy off white lace wraps the inside of the glass with ample stickiness.

Smell: Soft caramel and toasted malt biscuit and bread with a dash of buttery toffee. Honey and a currant and berry mix for fruitiness. Light twinge of ester alcohol in the nose.

Taste: Smooth upfront with a light to moderate carbonation. Certainly full in body with a vague polished buttery feeling. Large and jam-packed with malt flavours of toasted and caramel. Diacetyl is significant yet not to the point of being out of balance. The warming alcohol brings forth fruitiness and esters to round this big profile out. Hints of dark honey and light berry fruit add to the complexity. Hop bitterness drops a great leveling flavour and oily herbal character. Caramel and grain in the finish with overtones of diacetyl.

Notes: Year after year this one is a sure thing for winter seasonals, bitterness seems a step up this year which is fine considering all of the malt flavour to deal with.

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Photo of caddybuyer
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle with no date into a Chimay Chalice.

A-Beautiful copper color with filtered clarity. Eggshell head that settles fairly rapidly. If this could sustain a head it would be one of the most attractive beers I have sampled lately.

S-This smells nearly Belgian. Dark fruits, yeast and caramel malt, a heady aroma indeed, and it still is pretty cold from the fridge.

T-Sweet figs, plums, raisins, brown sugar and malts start the palate, which is a slightly buttery full bodied flavor with detectable alcohol present. Hops kick in mid palate, and finish with a bitter end note that lasts forever. This is an amazingly complex beer and reminds me a bit of Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA. What a brew.

M-Ample carbonation rounds out a perfect, slightly sticky mouthfeel.

D-I'd say this is a pretty drinkable beer, it tastes "bigger" than the stated ABV, and that makes it much more managable. Gee, I'm done, and I'm really wanting another.

This, hands down, is the best beer I have tried from Geary's. It reminds me of a Chimay Red combined with a Sierra Nevada wet hop ale. Just super, and a bargain to boot, for what it is.

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Photo of hyuga
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark orange brew with a whitish head that goes down quickly to a thin ring. Leaves a small amount of lace behind.

Aroma of sweetened toast and gingerbread maltiness. Hints of caramel sweetness. Sweet, but with just enough hops to say "I'm crisp! Drink me!"

I must say, I'm very impressed with the malt character in this beer! Just perfect! Caramel maltiness with bready undertones. Definitely buttery. Spicy hops kick around to liven things up a bit. Bitterness creates an amazing crispness. Alcohol makes the tongue tingle and warms you.

Crisp, crisp, crisp! Crisp and clean mouthfeel from the great combination of malt and hop.

Wow, amazingly drinkable. I think this is my favorite of the Geary's beers. I think this would be my perfect session beer. Its maltiness is kind of reminiscent of an Oktoberfest beer's. I love it! Can't wait to get more!

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Photo of jdmorgan
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This strong English ale poured an amber brown into an English pint glass.

The smell was light, with some slight malt aroma. There were some notes of fruitiness as well as some balanced hop flavor. I found the taste to begin with a sweet maltiness with a pleasant hop flavor. The two blended very well and finished with a full body and medium hop bitterness. The consistency was medium and so was the carbonation.

This ale surprised me, and I found it to be full of flavor, excellent in balance, and very drinkable. This would make a good session ale, despite it's high ABV. I'll be buying this again.

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Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bwst beer hands down for me while in Maine,pours a rich golden color with a slight red tint,not much head to it but what there was left some real nice lace.Rich is the word I use to describe this beer in color,aroma,and mostly flavor very malty and whiskyish and of dried fruit for a malt maven or whatever u wanna call it this to me is a perfect or near perfect beer,rich and warming a great winter beer.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on November 1, 2013.

The color is mahogany brown with a little gold glistening around the edge of the glass. Moderate, lingering cream colored head.

The aroma is lovely with its full roasted caramel malts, molasses notes, yeast, butterscotch, nuttiness, and finishing off with a mild earthy hop.

The body is medium to full.

The taste has an upfront roasted malt and caramel sweetness and a wonderfully lingering dry finish. Only 7% yeah, but some Strong Ales still have a boozy feel but not this one. Geary's has hit the mark on the style. It really feels like I'm drinking it at a British pub rather than at m y computer in New Hampshire USA.

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Geary's Hampshire Special Ale from D.L. Geary Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 378 ratings.