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

very good
382 Reviews
For Trade:
Geary's Hampshire Special AleGeary's Hampshire Special Ale

Brewed by:
D.L. Geary Brewing Company
Maine, United States | website

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-30-2001

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Reviews: 382 | Ratings: 614
Photo of Hhawk06
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002-03 version. Pours a beautiful ruby red color with a nicely sized head. Smells engaging, not quite sure what's to come. Hhhmm, this is a great conducted brew. There is a marvelous cherry wood flavor that tastes so good on a cold winter's day. As the mouthfeel progresses, you get some very pleasant spritzes of candy coated hops. A well made beer that is tasty to the max!

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Photo of mjohn27603
4.07/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002-2003 edition. Drank on 3/7/03. The beer was an almond/orange color in the glass with a lumpy 3/4 inch high head. Smell was wonderful with some floral notes and malty nose present. Sip gives a hint of caramel with a some hoppiness hidining the background that is present after holding in the mouth. At different times I thought I tasted some nutty flavor or some pepper. The high alcohol is sneaky but a warming sensation is noticeable after a while. I just got a six pack and am thinking of cellaring a few but there really isn't an edge to pull of this one. It is pretty drinkable as is.

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Photo of scottum
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


(not aged too long) Mmmmm... Pours a brown copper with a nice head. A well balanced flavor for such a strong ale. The malts are very nice, even slightly fruity. The hops add the perfect balance to make this brew go down smooth. Certainly worth a sample if you can get it.


Aged a year, but not as good as I remember, alas.

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Photo of LarryV
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Redbones. Poured with 1/2 inch frothy head. Deep reddish amber in color. Enticing aroma with hints of caramel. Pleasant mouth feel. Strong caramel/toffee flavors are most apparent, the hops take a back seat in this brew. Slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so. Not bad, but I think there are many more flavorful barleywines to be had. The alchohol was notably present in the taste.

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Photo of nixhecks
3.59/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This ale poured a red-brown with a small creamy white head. The nose is full of malty sweetness featuring caramel and molasses. The taste was much milder than many of the strong ales I have had and only a bit of barley-wine sweetness showed through. As soon as I thought the sweetness might be too much, the hops kicked in and balanced the whole thing out. While I wasn't overly impressed by HSA, I would recommend it as a good winter ale.

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Photo of Jdiddy
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Still not too sure what to make of this one. Had it at Redbones on tap. Pours a deep copper color. Does not really taste like an ale but does have a pretty intense alcohol. Ithad a taste that I just could not put my finger on...a taste that I was not too thrilled about. Definitely got better as I kept drinking it. Heavy malt and caramel flavor. Burned caramel?? Maybe that was the taste.

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Photo of Bcant
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice oranges hew with a small eggshell colored head. Geary's Special Ale has a malty bouquet and nose and a slightly alcoholic finish. A strong 7.0% abv but it tastes even stronger. It has a soft mouth feel and leaves a tingling sensation on the tough. Not a bad drink, better than most, however, it is not my first choice of barley wines or strong winter ales.

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002-2003 edition.
I have only had their summer ale so I did not know what to expect from this beer, but I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with it. The smooth pour revealed a beautiful, dark, amber hue that had a thin, white, styrofoamy head that clung to the side of my glass all the way down. The smell was very arousing with scents of a sweet caramel balanced with a salty, teriyaki like smell. The taste was very dry with deep full bodied taste. Very good winter brew!

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Photo of paceyourself
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002-2003 Edition. Clear bright bronze in color with a perfectly sized head for a pint glass. The aroma of maple and butterscotch misled me into thinking it would taste sweeter. Starts with a sweet bread taste then a hint of hazelnut and caramel hold for awhile until it balances out with a dry bitterness. It leaves no lace and carbonation is light but has a great mouthfeel. I think i had this from cask at the GLB after the Maine Brewers Fest but my memory of that night is foggy at best. I loved it then and still think it's a kick ass winter from the bottle.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.72/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002-2003 Bottling. Clear amber pour forms a rocky beige head which quickly thins. Moderate-well carbonation. Aroma is of spicy hops, crystal malt, clean american ale yeast, and a subtle peppery bite. Initial taste is of spicy hops, then makes way to a firm, but not overly malty sweetness, some very noticeable alcohol kick (not really annoying, however), and ending in a long bittersweet hop finish. Firm body with alot of carbonation that erupts on the tongue. The malt continues to hang in there for the finish, balancing with the spicy hop finale. No noticeable oxidation or diacetyl, fusel flavors. Think Sammy Boston Lager X 2...while good, it doesn't really do anything to excite me, and probably nothing I would seek out. Clean profile and well-done balancing act contribute to it's good drinkability despite it's modest ABV.

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Photo of Brent
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice brown/bronze color. Not much head, but the beer maintained an impressive sheeting of tiny carbonation bubbles up the sides of the glass throughout. Malty with a touch of honeysuckle blossom honey. Solid bittering drops in at the finish, with a lingering, thickness at the back of the tongue. Very tasty, and thanks to Cooper for the Christmas trade.

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Photo of kelticblood
3.74/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Geary's HSA 2002-2003

Poured a fast dissolving white foamy head that left a few traces of lace up my glass.The color was of a dark amber and copper.It offered a distinctive smell ranging from that of maple syrup to cherries.It has a full body and is somewhat thick and very malty.It has a barley-wine kind of taste to it.A truly different taste with flavors of banana,cherry,prunes,maple syrup,and a finish that tastes almost metallic like copper or iron.Goes done smooth with alot of flavor on the finish but leaves a dry feeling in the mouth,not very refreshing.A wheaty aftertaste is noted with a touch of bitter hops.At 7.0% it is very strong,but no real alcohol taste is present.Indulge in moderation with this one!

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Photo of beernut7
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an interesting old ale. Nice color with a thick head on the pour. The aroma is of malt and hints of nuttiness. The initial flavor is quite smooth with a push of malt. The malt grows through into a nice deep bitterness that lingers through the finish. There is a hint of nut-brown at the very end. All supported by a smooth body.

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Photo of Gusler
4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a cloudless amber color with the head impressive in size, frothy in texture and the color an off-white, the left over lace thick and clinging. The hop floral tones quite pronounced, along with the customary malt and sweet caramel. Begins quite sweet and the top middle of the road mouth feel wise, finish is has a monster hop bite and the carbonation pleasant, dry as a bone aftertaste, quite "Quaffable".

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful copper red body, with fine rising carbonation, capped by a rapidly decaying oatmeal head which quickly becomes a very thin topper. Opening the bottle, I was hit by a burst of fresh bread aroma. Then some caramel. Taste is rich and deep, malt sweetness at the center and hop notes tingling around the edges. The ads always say "Available when the weather sucks". Today the weather sucked, and this beer is"melting" away the traffic, the closings, and the shoveling. A great winter seasonal, perfect for sipping by the fire.

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Photo of aaronh
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

01-02 bottling. This hazy, deep amber/pale copper colored ale pours with a thin off-white head. The beer leaves a mild lacing on the glass as you drink it. The aroma is sweet, with a touch of spice. The taste is impressive, with sweet malt, orange, honey, and spice all wrapped up in one. It is very complex, with a lot going on in every sip. The hops are present in the taste, but are not the first flavor one notices. The mouthfeel is solid, with a nice bitterness on the finish. Fine carbonation is noticable on the tongue. With the moderate ABV, this is definitely a drinkable winter ale.

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Photo of CharlesRiver
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours amber in color with little to no head. The smell is all malt. Mellow and malty in taste with a nice warming as it goes down. I remember having this on tap when I was in college. I loved it then and I love it now. Others have mentioned things like fruity & watery but I don't get that at all. Please do try as this is worth every penny.

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Photo of doerickson
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2002-2003 offering. Deep amber coloring with a frothy off-white head. Malty, toasty, fruity aromas. Medium body, medium carbonation. Sweet flavors are the main storyline, with caramel and ripe dark fruit evident. There's an earthy hop presence that lends some balance, but this is a malty brew, and a big, warming one at that. Bit of a metallic twang in the finish. Nice for sipping on a cold night.

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Photo of DarthMalt
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, isn't this a treat! My first Maine beer, I believe. All that ribbing we give JohnnyP, but the boy seems to be onto something, I tell ya!

There are qualities to this beer that I have never encountered before. Like your Maris Otter, peat-smoked, and Munich malts; melanoidins and esters; and pacman yeast, all start to sound a familiar refrain in your favorite bloodlines of beers, Hampshire Special Ale casts an entirely new spectrum on the palette of a Beer Advocate.

This is a big-boned beer, although only a slight, doppel-like nose indicates such. A warm, very mild, banana ester wisps its way up, but this should only be considered as a hint, not a trait.

The reason I mention so much about the nose is because it totally locks the tastebuds in long before any liquid comes in contact with the tongue. It is quite a unifying experience and one I would highly recommend, as few beers exhibit such holistic qualities.

Inside, there is something so absolutely earthy and right about this beer it is hard to explain. There are no hokey toasted-malt surprises, no hop bludgeonings, and no cloying, crystal ["blue"] malt persuasions...

...Just beer....
...FABULOUS beer...
...a boy and his beer...
...How far is Maine from here?


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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 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 jtw5877
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice dark ale, not hop dominated, but good hop bitterness, nice malt flavor, hints of caramel. A very solid beer, with a good deal of alcohol. It is very drinkable. My local store has been selling me six packs since last winter, I must be the only one in town who is enjoying this stuff. A great beer.

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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 Andy
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer celebrates everything I personally dislike in Northeastern beer: the Ringwood yeast strain. Deep amber color. Nose is fresh hop, diacetyl, and sweet malt mixed deep within. Mix of sweet english malt and ringwood yeast flavor/diacetyl, buttery overtones. Slightly earthy mix of hops and yeast. Very well-constructed and a solid rating even if I don't personally enjoy it.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This years version ('02-'03, reviewed Oct '02) has a solid copper color, with a creamy, tan head which thins down to a nice, lasting layer, with ok lace. Nose shows a lot: malt, caramel, alcohol, and a good hint o' hops. Mouthfeel? Medium-plus for both body and smoothness...goes down easy. Caramel malt and a strong hop presence inundate the palate, as well as a nice, warming dose of alcohol. This one's a keeper!

overall: 4.3
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5

*** ***

Original notes from April 2002:
Again, thanks to Mr JohnnyP for supplying me with this sample of the golden-nectar!! Has a nice copper color, and a big, fine head from a hard pour. Nose is mostly hoppy, with some toasty notes, but mostly on the bitter side. Body is medium, and tongue is medium-plus! Semi-sweet start, a touch biscuity-malty...leads to a smooth hoppy end. Nice balance. Lovely brew....! (No score retained).


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Geary's Hampshire Special Ale from D.L. Geary Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 382 ratings.