Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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

380 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 380
Hads: 605
Avg: 3.93
pDev: 15.78%
Wants: 32
Gots: 46 | 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.
View: Beers (12) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Geary's Hampshire Special Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 380 | Hads: 605
Photo of illpass78
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber/copper color with a short cream head that is gone swiftly. Not much lacing.

Aroma: This beer smells like alcoholic prune juice. The nose is dominated by booze and dark fruit.

Taste: There's a lot going on here - toasted malt, a big hop presence, raisins, prune juice, molasses, and biscuit are all there. What's really there, though, is booze - and alcohol burn.

Feel: It's not heavy; this beer has the depth of an average IPA. The alcohol burn isn't unpleasant, but it's definitely present.

Overall: This seems to me a well executed beer, but it's a little harsh in a way that isn't as appealing as truly great "big" beers are harsh. It might just not be my kind of style. I lean towards imperial stouts and IPAs when I want to go big. Fans of ESAs might dig this.

 842 characters

Photo of cjgiant
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours a copper to light brown, with visible carbonation sustaining areas on the surface, including the edges, with head. The nose is caramel malt, some English toffee and hops bittering, but clean and far from overpowering.

The taste is heavier on the malts than I expected, caramel, honey, biscuit mainly, but a strange taste of apple butter hits me as well. The (presumably Cascade) american hops hit next, drying and turning the taste a bit woodsy. The final taste is the of what I often describe as copper-tasting English style bitter, but it plays in well with the other flavors. The beer is smooth; the carbonation is on point.

An enjoyable beer that seems to add the right amount of American hops to what I would assume would be a solid ESB or English-style IPA, styles that I can appreciate but rarely wow me.

 830 characters

Photo of crhensel
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a rich amber with no head at all. Aroma is of bread and caramel with a light hint of fruit. Medium bodied on the tongue it's very upfront with the caramel sweetness of the malt but finished with a nice hop bite. The alcohol dies linger for a while but is very satisfying.

 278 characters

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.

 1,670 characters

Photo of Brenden
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sort of a medium brown with a red-orange flair through it, there's a thickness that seems attributable only to the darkness of color and is completely clear otherwise. Soft bubbling activity eases up the sides of the glass and continues to steady a thick, creamy and dense tan head that doesn't settle to less than one finger to begin with but, more surprisingly, at any point during the entire session. Patching remains in clumpy manner well down the glass.
Must, toast, earth, and some gently spiced dark fruits make up a particular but very nice aroma. It seems quite rustic though very much like baked sweetbreads, perhaps more of a thick dark dough. Lots of fig, currant and apple, along with honey and toffee, are balanced by all the earthiness in the hops presence off a malt lead.
More gentle bitterness comes out on the tongue than I get from the nose. The earthiness is certainly present in it, along with lots of dry leaf. Spiciness takes a stronger position as well, sweetness easing out and things generally switching order and strength from aroma to flavor. It's lightly buttery and still gently sweet, but I wouldn't have expected from smelling this beer that hops would take control like this in the taste.
Crisp with a surprising heft on the front of the tongue, this beer is nevertheless barely medium-bodied but well within range and with a nice smoothness along with the good, clean, crisp bite.

 1,415 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.89/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark chestnut color with decent clarity. The head is a two finger pale orange shade. The retention is quite solid, and the texture is quite creamy. Solid lacing is left behind on the glass.

S: DAT RAISINY NOSE. This starts off strongly with dark fruits, before a slight whiff of hop bitterness comes out after warming up. Caramel notes are nicely restrained but not nonexistent.

T: It starts off with a light hop bitterness redolent of tobacco. Maltiness takes over after the hops fade on the palate, with some unsweetened toffee. The finish is mildly fruity, but not as strong as the nose indicated. Sometimes I even get some wisps of chocolate. While I don't enjoy all of the flavors (COUGH CRYSTAL MALT COUGH), it's clear this is a high-quality example of the style, without a hint of alcohol anywhere.

M: This style is usually plagued by intrusive malts and a heavy lingering finish. This one is superbly clean, crisp, and there's only a slight sweetness on the back end. The carbonation is fairly mild, and yet it's still quite drinkable.

O: Normally, I'm not a fan of this style, but these guys damn near nailed this. It's super clean, drinkable, yet nicely complex and savorable. I would definitely buy this again - this is one of those 'hidden gems' that few people know about but is actually really damn good.

 1,366 characters

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.

 684 characters

Photo of ExtraStout
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Stunning shade of ruby, an ample head of 1.5 inches rises and falls as it clumps and hangs to the insides of a Burgundy balloon. After 5 minutes, a lace of a few millimeters covers the surface. Carbonation is so active that it makes one wonder what this beer has in store. The label makes me miss all the beauty of New Hampshire.

Smell: Nose burning, jaw-dropping amount of malted barley lends so much sweetness and richness that the nose is almost overwhelming. You can smell the malts from 5 feet away, no lie. Carmel and maple syrup. Carmelized sugars and carbs that haven't quite turned so far as to become rum, but that have the alcoholic nature to force them past simple sugars. And the lightest tickle of hops. This is COMPLEX.

Taste: Everything the smell flaunts, to a lesser extent. This has very even malt; light tastes of brown sugar and carmel meld well with a very tame dose of hops that lends the smallest amount of bitterness, but much in the way of leafy flavor. A nice balance of sweet and sharp, but surprisingly light. This smells like it could kick the piss out of Old Horizontal (at 11%) and it whimpers in with 7%. It's as if someone made the most evil barleywine on earth, and split it with water like you would whiskey.

Mouthfeel: So much lighter than the nose suggests. This is so smooth and light, so much so that it detracts from the otherwise myriad character of this beer.

Drinkability: Easy. Light and mind blowing complex. I'd be surprised to see how many of these I could have in an evening before the weight (flavorwise, not ABV-wise) got to me. I guess I could have 2 or 3. But, damn. Try it for yourself. It's something which hasn't ever not been not nothing.

 1,714 characters

Photo of MistahBeah
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours brownish amber with foamy almost tan head. Some visible carbonation. Not much retention or lacing. Somewhat hazy

Smells rich and buttery. A little sweet. Spicy/herbal

Taste follows the nose. Rich butter and bready malts. Crisp white apples and some caramel sweetness. The finish has some spicy hop bitterness with a lingering floral aftertaste. Somewhere in the middle there is a trace of alcohol that actually pairs quite nicely with the spicy finish

Feels warming and smooth. Tastes more light-bodied than you would expect

I enjoyed this beer. I would get from time to time. Well-balanced with a nice flavor profile

 627 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.49/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a ruby-highlighted caramel coloring with a thin, filmy, white head. Nose of apricot and mango fruit sweetness and a caramel backbone. Tangy aromas, overall. Flavors of roast initially, with a biscuit backbone, honey and fruit sweetness, and a spicy blend overlay. Light bodied, with a roasty and tangy sweet aftertaste. CLean, slightly sharp finish. Surprisingly easy to drink despite a slightly elevated ABV and heavy flavor profile.

 487 characters

Photo of popery
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a relatively dark amber with a light beige head. The head sticks around for a medium length of time. Little lacing. The aroma is rich with deep caramel malt flavor. It's doughy and sweet. Toffee, shortbread, raisins, prunes, dates, syrup. It's a rich muddling of toasted malt sugar. There's some booze in the aroma and a bit more in the taste, but once the beer hits the proper temperature, it contributes more warmth than harshness. The taste is otherwise quite sweet, but the hops are more apparent than in the aroma and, besides providing some respite from the caramel, adds in a mineral/grassy note. The mouthfeel is full and thick for a 7% abv beer. This is an interesting beer. Before it had a chance to warm up, the booze seemed to come out in excess. At cellar to room temp, the sweetness shined and the booze blended into the beer. Good stuff.

 858 characters

Photo of MsNitch
3.89/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle to wine glass (that happens)

A: bright ruby red with leathery tints that has a fast falling head and no lacing

S: caramel malts with a touch of floral sweetness

T: starts mild and malty then bursts into a bitter round of hops that finish in a fantastic toasted caramel sweetness. Fantastically balanced joy ride of a palate.

M: strong with alcohol cuts that linger slightly in a mid level of carbonation.

O: A mega drinkable beer that could possibly use a touch more carbonation to pitch the strength, but has all the balls of a strong ale with the balance of a female mental structure. But if that doesn't make total sense then lets just say, it goes off with a bang but cuddles your taste buds into a sweet finish.

 743 characters

Photo of pixieskid
3.66/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my moeder lambic snifter/tulip hybrid.

Translucent mahogany hue with a one finger white head; lasts for a while, nice lacing on the glass.

Nose; really mild overall. A touch of caramel, candied fruits, and some herbal hops.

Taste; a blance of plums, herbal bitterness, some caramel malt, a lingering dry pistachio note (quite interesting actually, never noted any flavor like that in a beer until now) finishing with a very earthy bitterness.

Mouthfeel; pretty solid, well carbed and slightly thin, helps out with the drinkability of this "strong ale".

Overall; a unique and enjoyable beer. Quite old-school and not something I drink on a normal basis but I dig it.

 682 characters

Photo of GuyIncognito
3.63/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Popped one of these open tonight, and poured it into a pint glass. It has a beautiful reddish-brown hue, with a light fizzy head that disappeared almost immediately. Wonderful malty aroma, and plenty of malt taste, but with a decisive bitter finish. Good solid beer, but a little flat. Geary's beer always reminds me of when beer was beer, if you know what I mean. A strong old school foundation. This is a good beer, but not really my style.

 442 characters

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

Poured ruddy amber with a finger of off-white head. Aroma of caramel and dark fruit.

Moderate carbonation and a crispy, slightly sticky mouthfeel. Big malt flavors up front with caramel, bread, and some dark fruit. Some mild, spicy bitterness on the tail end.

Kind of a malt bomb but the bitter finish helps to balance. Enjoyed it more the second time.

 354 characters

Photo of greybeardloon
4.14/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No evident date.

A: A really beautiful clear mohagany color with a nice head.

S: Sweet malt, fruit esters and peppery hops. Pleasant but a touch cloying.

T: Full, sweet, bready and caramel malt with banana peeking through. Peppery hops balance and longer on the finish. Alcohol cuts through nicely Many distinct flavors balance each other well.

M: Zippy carbonation keeps it from getting too thick or sticky.

O: Nicely balanced and drinkable for the style.

 466 characters

Photo of AtrumAnimus
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This Special Ale pours a very rich amber that reminds me of strong Iced Tea in color. The head is thick and rick with a light tan color that is long lived and settles out slowly in about a minute leaving a nice appealing lacing down the side of the glass.

The nose is actually fairly decent as well. Malt that is subdued by the fragrant hops along with hints of coriander, nutmeg and fruit with some apples.

The beer has a very nice full mouthfeel that is rich, satisfying and filling. Not a hot day summer beer. I would prefer this one on a cool spring or fall day. But it is a rather excellent beer. The flavor is dry malt with a sharp hoppy flavor that is a very strong with a peppery undertone. The finish is bitter but pleasant and not overwhelming.

Overall this is an above average beer that is very drinkable. I would definitely buy it again were it available in my area.

 881 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of light tan foam on top of a clear, amber-brown body. The head settles at a moderate pace and leaves nice lace.

S - A rich, malty aroma of caramel and toffee with just a hint of spicy hops in the background.

T - Toasty, sugary brown malt notes up front. Some caramel, toffee, red apple, and a big load of brown sugar in the middle. Finishes with some musty hop flavor, more toffee and brown sugar and moderate bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderately high carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - Actually not bad. I didn't expect much after finding this one in a local bottle shop that I rarely visit, but it turned out to be a decent example of the style. The malt character is quite nice and if finishes with balanced bitterness that makes it quite drinkable.

 797 characters

Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear dark reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high dense beige head that gradually died down and left a large patch of bubbles that nearly covered the entire surface and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are pleasant aromas of buttery malts and fruity yeast in the nose.
T: The taste has a good amount of malty flavors along with notes of fruity yeast. There is a light amount of bitterness, which particularly stands out in the finish along with some hints of spices.
M: It feels on the high end of being medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of warming from the alcohol; the bitterness causes some tingling on your tongue.
O: This beer is rather easy to drink for the style and hides its alcohol well, although it’s complex enough to enjoy sipped slowly.

 919 characters

Photo of Etan
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Libbey tall tulip. Sent to me by Valdieu2.

A: Pours a dark brownish-amber with a spongy off-white head. Nice retention and lacing.

S: Strong aroma of yeast and vinous esters. Prune, grapes, brown bread maltiness, cinnamon.

T: Almost-tart fruity esters open the taste: banana, prune, grape, raisin. An astringent, deeply earthy bitterness takes over for a brief moment before going into a big bready, yeasty, grainy finish, along with some caramel and toffee maltiness. Some fruitiness, most noticeably banana esters, return in the finish, with crisp grain, hop bitterness, and a bit of alcohol.

M: Relatively light-bodied for a strong ale, but good.

O: I definitely enjoyed this one. The esters were nicely balanced with the grain flavors. The bitterness in the middle is a bit acrid, but other than that this is a tasty ESA.

 863 characters

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

12oz bottle courtesy of valdieu2.

a - pours a deep transparent amber shade. formed a pinky's worth of off white foam that calmed quickly to a film. leaves a few legs of lacing behind.

s - nutty malt, grape, candied cherries, faint chocolate.

t - starts off with toffee and nutty malts then moves into notes of darker, sweeter fruits. a fairly pronounced herbal bitterness sets in and finishes on a faint alcohol spice note.

m - medium in body, slightly buttery, adequate carbonation, medium co2 profile.

o - a solid beer and seems to fit the style well. very drinkable too. it's no fuller's, but i'd buy it again if i came across it.

 639 characters

Photo of sprucetip
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After many trips to Maine and an increasing appreciation for Allagash, Marshall Wharf, Maine Beer Co, and Rising Tide, I had kinda written off the old school Maine breweries as perfunctory and average. But after a few trivia nights at a bar where the HSA was the beer most to my liking, I have decided that I should not generalize quite so much.

It looks good, as if that matters. Clear, active, medium amber, decent head, some retention, and thickish lacing.

Malts and hops battle to something like a standoff. Malty sweet richness is there and noticeable, but citrusy and even a bit piny hops are stronger. Booze is noticeable too. It all works well together. Not amazing, but definitely good.

Much like the nose, some sweet malty richness is pushing and pushing, trying to be noticed and having some success. But the hoppy profile, more citrus and pine than floral, has more girth. The blend of these elements and some booze balances nicely with the medium level of hoppy bitterness..

Wel carbonated, medium bodied, and modestly bitter in the finish. It isn't dry or thick. It drinks easy.

For lack of other options in the particular environment, I drank quite a few of these and they grew on me. Probably not a trade bait type beer, but certainly a moderately complex and very well balanced one. Despite being decent sized at 7%, it drinks whacked easy. I like that there is some significant malt quality to it, and more hops than a lot of IPA's. I'll have it again.

 1,477 characters

Photo of shand
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

I have a lot of English Strong Ales in my fridge right now, especially compared to the style's availability in the US. Let's start with the one American version I have. Pours an attractive red-amber color with a finger of head. The aroma is rather sweet, with caramel and butterscotch malts, along with some floral hops. The taste has that sweet toffee malt kinda thing going along, with a substantial floral English hop presence. Aftertaste is fairly non-existant, which is the biggest knock I have against this beer. The mouthfeel is heavier bodied for an English ale, and is very lightly carbonated. Overall, a nice strong ale. Bring the rest of them on!

 715 characters

Photo of NuclearRich
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Ruddy light brown with a red tint. A perfect, dense one finger, light tan head pours and persists solidly throughout the entire session. Lacing is thick and lovely.

S. Dark and sweet malt. citrusy, lightly floral hop stands out. Light booze.

T. Hops remain strong, and compliment the boozy sweetness.

M. Surprizingly light on the tongue, and inviting.

O. Pretty solid. I wouldn't seek it out religiously, but would buy it if I found it. Wouldnt drink too many at once, either... this heavyweight packs a punch.

 518 characters

Photo of beyah
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12oz. bottle into a Britsh pint glass.

A - Deep copper color, about 1 finger of white head, excellent lacing.

S - Biscuity, Ringwood Yeast, eastery.

T - Hops bitterness, Ringwood Yeast, slight alcohol warmth, very well balanced.

M - Buttery Smooth, light carbonation, very drinkable.

 296 characters

Geary's Hampshire Special Ale from D.L. Geary Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 380 ratings.