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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 koopa
3.61/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle brought back by a buddy who went snowboarding up north.

Appearance: Pours a transparent "dark iced tea" color with a 2 finger slightly off white crown that shows good retention and lace.

Smell: Metallic macro like suck ass smell when poured cold. Notes of caramel and molasses make a tiny appearance as it warms.

Taste: Malt centric with decent fruity notes...figs dominate. A touch of bitter herbal hops in the finish as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, decent carbonation, and a touch syrupy.

Drinkability: The flavor profile, the 7% abv, and the syrupy quality lower the score for me.

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

This beer pours a murky brown color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes slowly into nice lacing. The aroma is of molasses, hints of dark chocolate, and caramel. There is no detectable hop presence. This is a rather simple aroma, yet I still find it really appealing. The taste is much like the aroma. It is very malty, but I can sense that there are some hops in there. They don't really come through in the flavor, but there add some balance to this beer. How ever small a hop presence it might be without it I would easily confuse this beer with a Wee Heavy. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is a nice beer that I will certainly drink again. I am a big fan of IPAs that have enough malt to add complexity. I feel this beer a lot like those beers in that it is a malt bomb but with enough hops to add complexity.

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Photo of erosier
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a reddish amber color with a medium sized and medium bodied off white colored head that laces the glass nicely as it fades.
S: Smells of sweet roasted malts, then some caramel and toffee sweetness followed by a dark vinous fruit aroma. Slight hop aroma at the end of the nose.
T: Tastes of sweet roasted malts, some caramel flavors followed by a nice mix of vinous fruits, some alcohol flavor, and some toffee as well. Really intriguing taste.
M: Rich, somewhat sweet, a littler thicker bodied than it looks and the perfect amount of carbonation.
D: Pretty drinkable but the abv is a bit high and the alcohol has a somewhat more prevalent flavor than I would have liked, but still overall a good beer.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

"New Hampshire's alright if you like fighting." - Scissorfight

Paired with a crappy New England winter.

Dark amber color with a pristine off-white head. Thick skim retention leaves a few lacey fingers.

Intense fruity aroma: cherries and candy apple primarily. Some toasted malt seeping out from the candied sweetness. Taste has the candied fruit carryover but with and underlying swampy bitter and cherry wood polish booze. A little slick on the tongue. Buttery Ringwood aftertaste.

Cough drop--ish at times, earthy at others but consistently approachable and warming.

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Photo of Wisconsin
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A - A steady pour delivers a golden, reddish brown body with a frothy off white head that is about a finger and a half thick. The body is extremely translucent with little carbonation visibly rising to the top. Good head retention, minutes after pouring there is a nice lace.

S - There is a nice combination of malts that welcome your nose initially. A deeper whiff brings on the dark fruit, plums, figs, cherries, and others. Hops seem to be toned back and combine with the alcohol to create somewhat boozy bitter smell. Nothing awful though.

T - Much like the smell. There is plenty of malts present, which I expected. Fruit notes of figs, cherries, plums and apricots show up subtly, but make it enjoyable. A sweet aspect that I did not smell has shown up, it's almost a bready honey type flavor that is excellent. Slight alcohol taste but nothing terrible.

M - Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Entering the mouth there is plenty of malts, followed by the fruit aspects (figs, apricots, plums, cherries). Carbonation enters and provides a smooth transition to the bready honey notes. They don't seem to completely mask the alcohol though, and what you are left with is slightly grainy and boozy finish.

D - This is an interesting style of beer and one that I think I could enjoy quite a bit. I like that many of the barleywine aspects are present but simply toned back. At only 7% abv I think the alcohol taste could be hidden better. Overall, though I am glad I have a six pack of this to store away for a rainy day.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear copper to amber color with a full two finger tan head. Nice lacing on the glass as you drink.

S: Rich, sweet roasted malt aroma with toffee, caramel, ripe banana, and currants make up the sweeter aromas. The hops present themselves with some herbal and grassy notes.

T: Sweet up front with toffee, fresh bread, currants, and some sherry. Some alcohol becomes noticeable. Hops are herbal and slightly spicy. They give good balance to the malt and keep it in check.

M: Medium body with some crisp carbonation. Some alcohol warmth comes through.

D: This is an excellent example of the style, a well done brew. It is well balanced and flavorful. It has some strength so it is hard to drink it too fast so drink slowly and enjoy!!

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Photo of confer
3.35/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It pours a hazy amber with an off white head.
Malty ale smell. The alcohol also is apparent in the smell.
Taste is the same as the smell. Malty/alcohol taste, with a very bitter finish.
The HSA has a very smooth creamy feel. Its a one and done beer for me.

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Photo of Popkas
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep copper color with nearly a finger of off white head. Leaves a touch of lacing behind as the head recedes.

S: Bready smell with a bit of spice to it.

T: Sweet caramel malts balanced a bit of a suprisingly hoppy back of the tongue. Interesting as I did not see that coming.

M: Mouthfeel typically does not "catch my eye", but this was different. First feels as though it is too fizzy filling the mouth too quickly, but it quickly turns into a pleasant much less "full" feel.

D: Enjoyed this one fairly well.

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Photo of nkersten
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Great color, dark orange/amber with an off white head that sticks around, decent lacing too.
S- Smell is toffee malts, bread, some spice, and a bit of fruity hops.
T- Good malt flavor, not too sweet, some clove and banana probably from the yeast and hop bitterness to back it all up. Hardly any alcohol in the taste.
M- Light carbonation and medium body, coats my mouth a little bit.
D- Very drinkable beer. I am not terribly familiar with the style, but this is easy to drink and very tasty.

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Photo of Amalak
3.46/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had off the cask at Barcade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
A- It had a dark orange color, opaque, with a nice head and lacing.
S- Very nice hoppy scent to it.
T- It's quite bitter, very hoppy. And dry, too. It's actually very dry. There is something of a sweet candy aftertaste to it. Honestly, this is too dry for my liking, even if it's a high quality beer.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.61/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A4.5 : Must say that this is a fine looking beer. Crystal clear amber in color. Off-white (with a touch of yellow) creamy as hell head with above average retention and tons of lacing.

3.5 S: Nose is full of sticky sweetness and a touch of graininess. No sign of hops as malts dominate. Crystal malts.

3.5 T: Way more balanced that I was expecting. There is a pleasant hop bitterness that I wasn't expecting. Buttery diacetyl accompanies lots of sweet caramel malt flavor. A touch grainy as in the nose.

4.0 M: Medium body. Good creaminess. Could use more carbonation, but carb is fine for the English style.

3.5 D: Not a bad brew, but not really my cup of tea. I'm not a big fan of English styles.

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Photo of Durge
3.62/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Encountered this specialty brew at The Great Lost Bear in Portland, ME. It has a dark clear copper color with a scanty white head and fair lacing. The aroma captures plenty of woodsy malt and light floral hops. The flavor declares a smooth fruity malt that harbors just a hint of wheaty alcohol. There's a touch of bubblegum and more of that floral sweetness. After the initial acclimation you pick up the dry hop aftermath. I don't feel this is very complex, there's not much to say. It's medium drinkable, not something I would rave about, OK, that's about it. Malty alcohol and some dry hop. Just not winning me over.

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

This beer pours a nice golden amber color.
There's a small head that dissipates promptly.
Small nose.

The flavor was quite surprising given the precursors. It's more like many IPAs I've enjoyed rather than a mere "ale".

Lots 'O' Hops. Clean bitter start that lingers until the next sip. It could use a bit more to the flavor-- it's mostly all "bitter hops". Not necessarily a detraction, but the bitter is the most prominent flavor attribute.

This beer has a nice cordial mouthfeel-- while a robust flavor it's not tiring and therefore enjoyable.

Drinkability is heightended because of the comparatively below 10% alcohol ABV factor.

This is a nice pleasant IPA ..errr Ale.

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Photo of tigg924
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear, amber, 1/2 inch head, high carbonation

Smell: toasted malt, sugar, and spices

Taste: sweet malt, caramel, raisins, and a touch of hops on the finish

Mouthfeel: sweet, smooth, sticky, with a slightly bitter aftertaste

Drinkability: I think this one hid the alcohol fairly well. I could have a couple as I enjoy the sweetness, but not more.

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Photo of CheckMate
1.64/5  rDev -58.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

12 oz brown bottle obtained at Hannaford's Supermarket Derry, NH. pours a crystal clear copper liquid with barely any head, maybe a centimeter and that's pushing it. smells of woodsy-ness, hops, and raisins definitely invades the senses. definitely taste the raisins and the earthy quality of the hops. doesn't give a nice after taste, reminds me of my nail polish remover. moderate carbonation. the drink ability of this beer isn't very good.... unless you like to drink nail polish. I get the impression that the bottle of beer i purchased wasn't very fresh, so hopefully I will obtain a fresh brew of this kind and be able to give this a better score,

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Photo of Beastdog75
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one in a Geary's sampler pack. Geary's H.S.A. was a surprising brew for me, as I was pretty much just expecting a run of the mill ale, but this one was pretty nice.

H.S.A. pours a slightly murky brownish copper color. A healthy head of foam forms and lasts for several minutes. A nice malty aroma hits the nose, with dark fruits and caramel being present. Some woody aromas and some hoppiness are smellable as well. The mouthfeel was a bit sticky with a low-moderate amount of carbonation present. As for the flavor, it is indeed a bit on the sweet side with a big malty flavor present bringing with it some dark fruit/raisin taste. The hop bitterness hit me a bit unexpectedly, and I can only describe it as woody/citric/herbal/spicy. The beer ends up feeling in a word, "warm." This hop bitterness lingers on in the aftertaste along with some of the sticky maltiness. The warming sensation from the alcohol is nice and brings the beer to a full conclusion.

I would definitely recommend this. The brew is surprisingly complex and is quite drinkable for an ale of its strength.

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Photo of TheRowan
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark Brown/ Dark Copper. Active leaky carbonation from top to bottom
S: Sweet, Nutty, Roasted, and woody.
T: Tastes like to color brown. Tobacco, nuts, Smoky, Roasted, sweet, woody, earthly sweets.
M: Deep, fills and fades in the mouth nicely. Leathery smooth. An Earthly beer!
D: Ya not to to many but a few more would be nice. I would think this would be a great beer to put out in the fall.

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

Poured a dark amber with a relatively small, short-lived head. A sweet, malty aroma. Dry mouthfeel with a surprisingly thin body. A complex flavor of apples, pineapple, cedar, and woodsmokes. A slightly bitter finish with little presence of the alcohol.

A delightful little ale.

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my girl Emily for bringing this back from her family vacation to Maine. 12oz bottle into a pint glass; different label than the one shown - this has a yellow back and the wording is inset within a round oval crossed by a red stripe. No freshness date.

Hampshire Special sits with an especially crisp, copper hue with bronze highlights. After an aggressive pour, a thin veil of beige-gray foam holds court and retains fairly well. Excellent aroma, very English in nature with toffee malts bursting at the seams. Hints of red cherry sweetness and a kiss of vodka linger in the background.

Flavor starts with a bit of fruity spice and caramel-toffee malts that give way to a finish of raw, bitter hop leaves and sticky booze. Occasionally I detect traces of chestnut and oak. Thankfully, the sweetness never becomes cloying, though, as I've found this to be the case with many higher-ABV English ales. Body is dead-pan medium in consistency, with an uppity carbonation level that brings out some of the milder characteristics of the malts and yeast esters towards the finish. Top notch English Strong Ale, here; if you ask me, Geary's is underrated.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle served in a standard pint glass. No freshness dating indicated. Poured a hazy copper with a half inch off-white head that evenutally settles into a fairly consistent, thin cap. Some strands and spatters of lacing present during the tasting. Nose suggests caramel and dark fruit (perhaps fig and/or prunes). Taste consistent with nose for the most part, but there is a strange, chemical aftertaste detectable at the finish, that lingers between quaffs. Also a little bit of alcohol heat comes out in the mix. Mouthfeel falls between light-and medium-bodied, but carbonation is a little prickly and there's a lingering bitterness at the finish. Interesting, but I'm not loving it. A little too much of a chemical character to be drinkable.

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Photo of JoKo
3.87/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Half an inch thick white head that dissipated quickly. The beer is cloudy and dark copper in color.

Smell: Piney hop smell up front, rather pleasant.

Taste: Very crisp, citrus, pine. The malt sweetness comes out more in the aftertaste. The hops are robust, but they aren't as prominent as in an IPA

Mouth feel: Bold, full-bodied, the carbonation is moderate.

Drink ability: Being full bodied, this beer probably would be very filling after 2 or more. Although it is filling, this beer is most definitely enjoyable. I thought that the balance between malts and hops was well done.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with a good sized head although it doesn't leave much for lacing.

Smell is pretty much all caramel malt with some muted spiciness.

Taste is a kick, strong caramel malt front, slight spiciness, a fair amount of heat coming from this beer but not enough to distract.

I've had this on-tap and in bottle form, on-tap kicks the bottles rear, but I went with a bottle review since that is how most people will get to experience HSA.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a stubby 12-ounce bottle into a Pig's Eye Pub pint glass.

A: Pours a very rich copper color with ruby and brown highlights when held to the light. Very sparse carbonation bubbles beneath the one-finger head of sudsy foam.

S: Smell is fruity, malty and not without it's hints of alcohol. A light berry and citrus aroma rises together with caramel and ethyl alcohol.

T: Taste is smooth, bitter and slightly sweet. The slightly creamy blend contains well blended, roasted caramel malts, orange peel and a bit of grape skin with an herbal hop resin to it. Of course, that ringwood lurks beneath the whole brew, hidings in its alcoholic shadows.

M: Mouthfeel is quite full and mildly creamy.

D: A very heavy brew to session, but 2 or 3 is likely the max for one session. A full array of flavors, an ABV of 7% and some mysterious ingredients make this a tasty and dangerously drinkable brew.

I had this last night and have quite the headbanger today. Must be the higher ABV, but I think that ringwood came back to bite me in the ass. Drinker's beware, when Geary's says special, they really mean "special." A very good beer.

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Photo of oldhippie247
3.36/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper hue with a slightly off-white head. Though head is nice and fluffy and lingers, no lacing is left on the glass.

Even at just below room temperature the nose is quite muted. Malty sweetness with a lightly funky earthiness is noticeable with a little effort.

Mouthfeel is nice and rich, but flavors fall a little flat. I think I was expecting something a little closer to a barleywine, while it drinks more like a slightly-above-average-strength amber.

Despite an overall non-impressive nose and a less than stellar palate, this is a good beer for those looking for something easy to drink but with a little more alcohol.

Easy to drink and well-priced are it's big attributes to me.

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