1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

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

572 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 572
Reviews: 374
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 12.72%
Wants: 29
Gots: 20 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-30-2001)
View: Beers (10) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Geary's Hampshire Special Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 572 | Reviews: 374 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ArrogantB
3.25/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Orange in color with a good head, looks like it will be a decent brew.It tastes slightly English if that makes any sense but it is a little too strong and I usually don’t say that. This is a decent beer but not one I will seek out again, doesn't suit my tastes.

Photo of techdiver
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear deep reddish copper with modest head that dissipates quickly.

Toasted malt and toffee to the nose.

Wonderful malt taste with a balanced hop bite.

Very smooth, medium bodied, clean and crisp.

Great drinkability, just a pleasure to drink. My first look at this style, and it's fairly impressive.

Photo of MMansfield
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from Seaport Beer Fest 08/11/07

Appearance: Poured a clear, coppery colour with an off white head. Settles down to a generous lacey ring.

Aroma: Caramel mostly with some sweet malts. A bit of spicy tea notes and floral hops.

Taste: Sweet upfront, quite butter. Medium bitter finish with some biscuits.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, pretty refreshing.

Final Statment: It wasn't until after I took the notes I was told of the percentage. I was about to declare this a very sessionable ale until I found out it was 7%! There was no hint of alcohol warmth in this at all. Could be a dangerous beer. Definately nothing to turn down.

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

GHSA is a deep copper color with a creamy off-white foamy head.
Nose of heady honeysuckle flower with a noticeable ferric element. The malts are in main attendance here, showing nice marshmallow and tropical citric essence as well. Moderately assertive hop character balances out this brew. Tasting this beer, the hops take the forefront, much more so than the nose would lead you. Moderate hopping with generous warm honeyed malts makes for a well-made and enjoyable brew. Alcohol is virtually undetectable. Slightly viscous and nicely creamy and crisp in the mouth, this is fine ale for enjoying straight up or with your favorite meal.

Photo of EVLguy
3.2/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked this one up on a whim. I'd only had on other Geary's beer before, their pale ale, and had enjoyed it thoroughly. This however caught me off guard. I had no clue this was an english style, and was still not aware when I drank the first bottle from the six pack. This review comes from the my fourth bottle had of this beer.

Appearance: A vigorous pour gave this ale a one and half finger head which quickly disintegrated to almost nothing, a light thread of bubbles which left no lacing. Color was a deep orange, very clear, almost tea-like.

Smell: I got a light hint of caramel malt as well as tea/tobacco leaf scents. However the overall aroma was weak.

Taste: I have to admit flavours I got in this beer were interesting, even if a bit odd. The tea leaf taste was the most apparent following a coffee like taste along with other herby tangs. The hops only seem to leave an ashy taste, but that maybe interpreted as smoky the some.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly this beer did have a nice weight to it. More firm than I've been use to with all the ipa i've been drinking lately. Only a mild acidity and a smooth finish.

Drinkability: I gotta say I can't see myself drinking this beer very often. All the grassy, earthy tastes are not something I enjoy in beer. I might come back to something like this once and a while, but probably just to remind of me what those tastes are.

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

Have always thought this was Geary's finest beer by a long shot. HSA pours a copper/dark-brown color with a half-inch white head that lingers for a good 15-20 seconds. Pretty decent lacing with little visiblity throughout the glass. The aroma is dominated by malt, biscuity elements, caramel, with a hint of toffee. There is also a bit of sweet fruit presence. A slight alcohol burn of the nostrils is worthy of mention as well. Good and somewhat complex aroma. Taste is very good. Malty and sweet with a nice caramel flavor as a welcome compliment. A complete and full presence in the mouth, with the slight hint of alcohol a bit astringent on the tongue.

On the whole, this is an eminently drinkable beer. A bit heavier and more potent than a true session beer should be. Nonetheless, cut out a couple of these from your total alotment and you would have the perfect beer to enjoy for a time while sitting and talking with friends, watching a game or enjoying any kind of celebration. A truely 'Special Ale,'

Photo of phisig137
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber copper color with a two finger head. Good retention falls leaving behind a fairly heavy amount of lace.

Aroma is definitely malt driven. Well toasted grain, toffee, and nutty overtones. Quite nice.

Flavor is sweet, malty, and delicious. Toasted hazelnuts, burnt sugars, toffee, biscuit malts, and fresh bread are all backed by a mild fresh yeasty bakery note. Slightly sweet up front, with a relatively dry, slightly stale malt finish. Well balanced. This is an exercise in toasted malt usage. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. Drinkability is pretty damn good.... This goes down quite easily for the deceptive 7% abv.

Overall, a pretty tasty beer. I begin to wonder why we only see this in my area during the summer. A damn fine english strong ale, although there are a few better strong/old ales and barley wines out there. Well worth trying, and picking up. Don't go way out of your way for it, but if you haven't tried it, pick some up. Normally, Geary's beers I find to be VERY hit or miss.... this seems to be a pretty solid offering.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured amber with a head that quickly fades to nothing. Spotty lacing. The smell is quite malty, but dry. The taste has that same dry maltiness up front, but this is followed by quite a whallop of bitter orange hops and a spicy finish. Quite tasty. Mouthfeel is a bit prickly, but it suites the hop slam. Quite a nice treat, a beautiful if hoppier than usual exampleof the style.

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

Thanks goes out to ampzilla for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear dark golden amber color, nice carbonation, nice small foamy tannish head, nice sticky lacing follows. The nose is malty, slightly spicy, and lots of caramel. The taste is malty, slightly bitter, some spicness, and lots of caramel. Medium body. Very drinkable, a tasty ESA, glad to have had a chance to try it.

Photo of DavidSeanNJ
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First off, this is one classy looking bottle- excellent artwork on the label.

12 oz. bottle poured into my yankee pint glass...

Pours a orange/copper color. Lots of fluffy white head- great contrast to the bright color of the beer. The beer itself had a sweet aroma- malty- sugar- HSA tasted of grains and malts- some hops but all around a perfect blend- superb smoothness. Please note: the sweetness of the beer was not overbearing- HSA is the type of beer that could please all kinds of beer lovers-

I want to drink these all night even with a 7.00% ABV. Yum.

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

Pours a clear amber color with a whispy half finger head that fades fairly quickly. Some lacing observed.

A somewhat subtle malty caramel aroma and hints of alcohol.

The mouth feel is medium with a carbonated characteristic and a fairly significant hoppy presence.

The flavor is good. The complexity of bitterness from the hops over the sweet caramel malt taste is interesting.

This one is a good drinker. The 7% ABV is pretty well hidden.

Photo of scarletfire79
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

one of the most drinkable beers i've ever had. i don't want to put it down. pours dark amber brown with a frothy white head. great staying power, decent lacing. definitly picking up some fruity notes in the nose, sweet like honey. the taste is balanced, mellow, malty, hoppy, i could go on. just very nice. i'm sorry i didn't pick this up sooner. kind of like a barleywine junior. good beer.

Photo of Atlas1
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As I pass from BA Acolyte to BA Initiate, I toast my Geary's Hampshire Special Ale to one and all!

Pours a deep copper orange color, accented by rich orange highlights when held up to the light. A fat two-finger head sits atop and leaves a bit of lace. Nice enough, to be sure, but nothing to write home about. The aroma is full of dark fruit. Dense prune and raisin scents, with some banana and pear thrown in for good measure. Malty and fruity aroma for the most part, but with some spices as well; maybe some coriander, or something akin to that, and a hint of pepper. The taste is quite pleasant. A very nice balance of fruit and spice, with the kiss of hops making themselves known in the end. Boozy, but not overwhelmingly alcoholish. At 7% ABV, this is, perhaps, to be expected. Crisp, clean mouthfeel, but still sturdy. I wouldn't call this a highly drinkable beer, but it is an entirely drinkable beer, if that makes sense. Not for the faint of heart, and not for everyone, the Geary's HSA is a tasty treat for spicy malt beer fans. A beer I won't seek out often, but one that I'll gladly have again.

Photo of albern
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a nice copper orange with only minimal head which doesn't hang around long. Minimal lacing. The smell is very good, even right from the bottle. I detect lots of malt, caramel, wheatiness, some hops, maybe some spices. This is a pretty syrupy, full bodied beer, sort of sticky consistency with moderate carbonation. The taste is quite strong for a 7 ABV. I thought it had a higher ABV just from the alcohol tones which are present throughout. The taste is caramel, some orange, some spice, malt, and bitterish hops. This is a complex beer with lots going on, but a little on the bitter side for my tastes. There is some imbalance towards the hops and the alcohol taste is a bit too strong for this one. The aftertaste is also quite bitter and the esters of the hops do come through as well. Good but not my favorite either.

Photo of DrJay
4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received from cburian as part of Secret Bunny 07. Thanks Chris!

Clear medium amber with a thin cap of fine, whitish foam. Some stickage between sips, decent head retention for what's there. Aromas of floral hops, caramel, brown sugar, and fruity esters (pear?). Malty flavour, not overly sweet, but with a mellow caramel backbone and a solid, balanced bitterness. A little bready, toasty, estery middle, and a hint of alcohol. Medium bodied, lowish carbonation, slightly grainy texture with a bit of warmth at the end. Very nice. A well-crafted, easy drinking english strong ale. I like this one quite a bit.

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

On tap at Eastern Standard in Boston, this hearty brew poured a dark amber color with a very small off-white head. Head dissapeared completely. Strong aromas of sweet malt and alcohol hit you in the nose. Big malt flavors abound here, with a mild fruity quality and a pronounced alcohol presence. Bitter hops display themselves in the finish. Almost whiskey-like aftertaste. This is a big and malty beer to sip on a cold winter's night. Another good one from Geary's.

Photo of sstackho
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. Pours a medium straw colour, with significant carbonation but not much head. Aroma is all malt and of a decent strength. The first taste is a bit too sparkly due to the carbonation, after which the malt flavours shine through. Some hops linger in the aftertaste. Some alcohol is noted in the nice lingering taste. A bit too sparkly for my preference, but this is rather well balanced and enjoyable.

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

A- Thin white head on a clear amber/copper body.
S- Pretty big citrus hops with tons of grapefruit and a good malt balance too.
T- Big grapefruit hop with just a hint of pine in there too. Malt helps to kind of balance it out but hops come out ahead.
M- Medium body with medium to low carbonation.
D- It is pretty good. I think it is a solid brew but not sure if I would get another any time soon just since I would prefer to try other new beers. If I found it around here though I might buy some.

Photo of Imstillthegman
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear amber-copper color with a nice, full two finger head. The head disappears rather quickly, but a nice solid ring remains.

Nose is malty with some alcohol presence. Fruity, brown sugar, very light floral hop notes, toffee, and the alcohol.

Sweet fruits (apples mostly), buttery caramel, florals, and the warming alcohol. Starts sweet and finishes dry. Just enough hops to keep it from being over the top sweet. Quite tasty.

Medium bodied with light carbonation. Sweet, dry aftertaste. Good beer to have on a cool day as the alcohol has a nice warming effect.

Photo of BassAssassin
4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Clear copper color with reddish tint. The thin white head could be a result of me pouring it incorrectly. However, head does dissipate very quickly.

S: Nutty malt aromas along with some buttery diacetyl and hints of fruit. Tea like aroma from the hops comes through loud and clear.

T: Sweet, fruity malt upfront with the buttery diacetyl that's so common in many Maine beers. I actually find it quite enjoyable. Tea like hop flavors are very well integrated. This brew leans toward the sweeter end of the spectrum. However, it remains balanced and actually finishes dry. Not terribly complex, but very tasty nonetheless.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amount of carbonation. Grainy mouthfeel, but easy drinking just the same.

D: What this beer lacks in complexity it makes up in drinkability. It can be paired with almost any food. It's also great on its own. Above average ABV helps make this a great winter time brew, as well. One of my favorites. A staple in my fridge.

Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.05/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured Golden-Orange with 1/8 inch head from a 12oz twist-off bottle purchased at Peabody’s in Boone, NC.

Very fruity with a crisp after taste, mild hop smell, light lacing and light carbonation. The 7% alcohol is hidden well. A fair beer that could use a tad more hops. Fruitier than my taste, still not bad but I won’t be making any special trips to Maine for this one.

Photo of Liquids
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an intense rubied orange hue, with a scummy thin head despite the rousing pour into a chalice glass. No lacing. The aroma is intense and complex--a sweet intense caramel malt aroma, fruits and dark syrups, alcohol and some hop aromas, but dominated by a complex fruity sweetness. The taste is unique, malty, and intense, english style with spicy malts and a fruity sweetness--a bit alcoholic, but it's hidden in the mix and not a swash across the palate. The hops are present, oh yes, spicy and resinous flavors linger. The key word for this beer is complex, but after a few sips, you loose that complexity and taste that it's too sweet, with a hoppy compliment. Moutheel is light for this style, but not water. More body would definitely make this more enjoyable drinking, and a bit carbonated for me, but thats nothing a harder pour couldn't remedy for my preferences. Overall, I like this beer, and seeing as I don't much care for strong ales, this is a winner. I can indeed imagine it being even better than it is, but it's a solid drinker that is not hard to locate, and that's always a plus for a local good-drinking brew.

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

Pours an off-white head over a ruby tinged copper body. Minimal head retention and lace. Aromas of dark vinous fruit and caramel with a light citric hop presence lingering in the background. Flavor is sweet caramel malt up front giving way to more citric hop flavors and a decent bitterness by the end. A mild bitter orange flavor is detectable throughout. Medium to full bodied.

This was a college favorite back when this was only available when the “weather sucks” and was capped by gold foil. Still a tasty brew in spite of its expanded production and distribution. A high-octane session beer for discriminating barflies.

Photo of Chaz
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Geary's Hamphire Special Ale Winter 1997/1998
D.L. Geary Brewing Company, 38 Evergreen Drive, Portland, ME 04103

Confession time: I found this six-pack -along with a sixer each of
Brimstone Big Ale and Westmalle Tripel- at Liguor Village in Saint
Paul -- they're across from the Ford Plant in Highland Park, and a
block down from Haskell's (the Haskell's location which once housed
the best beer selection in the chain.) So now you folks know of a
couple of other places to look, but beware of Museum Pieces and
REALLY OLD, dead beer (put it this way: if you don't see it on the
shelves of other local stores and it's not a big, strong, ageworthy
beer, it's more than likely undrinkable.)

Anyway, I feel like a real idiot for cracking this one since it
still has some legs. The initial aroma is malty sweetness with
plenty of alcohol. The color is that of a Belgian Brown / Dubbel
(think Corsendonk) and the yeast? Well, there was plenty of fine
sediment here, it looked as if Larry Bell himself had dosed the
bottle: now I know what they mean on the label when they say "our
unique Hampshire yeast"! Pours with an off-white head of moderate
retention, and a fairly viscous brew. The aroma is simply
outstanding � I can literally smell it from across the room. Cloudy
and opaque to be sure . . . and it tastes absolutely f*ckin'
amazing! Amazing! Can I say that again? AMAZING! This is one of
those beers which �despite the high costs of Interstate freight and
transport, State licensing and brokerage fees and 20-30% retail
markups- is worth picking up an entire product line just to get a
crack at each year (think Hibernation Ale from Great Divide.) Near
as I can tell (they supposedly participated in Maine and New England
beer events this past summer) Geary's is still in business, but an
email I sent them went unanswered and their website has been "under
construction" for well over a year now, so who knows? When I lived
in Boston (1999-2000) they were still brewing and had also produced
a Millenium edition Hamphsire Special Ale, but had I known then
what I know now, I would certainly have stocked up on the stuff. If
I had to give this a technical rating it would be very high, but
from a purely subjective standpoint it's off the scales: do yourself
a favor and try to find some of this. If you like your ales strong
(7-8% ABV), full-bodied, full-featured, and very distinctive, this
is one for you.

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

Nice dark orange color that is extremely clear. Almost see-through. Head disappears quickly with no lace.

Sweet ale scent. Has a flowery aroma with a sweet malt character. Hint of fruit.

Sweet ale-ish flavor with a slight metallic alcohol flavor, but pleasant. Tiny hop presence. Mild citrus character, but in the malt. Slight bite at the end.

Medium-bodied, medium strength. Has a nice ale flatness. A good, solid ale. Slight alcohol bite, but with a sweet balance. Quite drinkable.

Geary's Hampshire Special Ale from D.L. Geary Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 572 ratings.