Ad Astra Ale | Free State Brewing Co.

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Ad Astra AleAd Astra Ale

Brewed by:
Free State Brewing Co.
Kansas, United States | website

Style: Altbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This ale is the first brewed in Kansas since pioneering days. The name "Ad Astra comes from the Kansas State Motto - Ad Astra per Aspera, Latin words meaning "To the Stars through Difficulties". We've blended Pale, Caramel, and Munich malts for a rich amber beer. The hops balance this malty sweetness, and we've chosen Northern brewer and Fuggles hops for their flavor.

24 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-14-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 60 | Ratings: 245
Photo of sulldaddy
3.24/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampling a cellar temp bottle poured into a pint glass. A gift from my friend Ragingbull.
The beer pours a clear beautiful mahogany color with ruby highlights and a 1 cm creamy beige head. The foam receds slowly to a sturdy surface layer with very tight lattice on the sides of the glass. Very appealing looks.
Aroma is caramel and some grainy malt with a bit of spicy and grassy hops in the background, but this is a malt driven nose.
First sip reveals an average bodied beer with very fine yet tingly carbonation.
Flavor is grainy and husky malt with a touch of toffee. I also get a little bit of grassy hop but the beer finishes with an almost tangy malt hit, more like a wheat twang than caramel. The finishing flavor is a little weird as it is out of balance with the rest of the beer.
No hint of any booze on this one and the beer drinks very smooth and easy.
I like the beer overall but the flavor on the finish is a little strange.

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Photo of birchstick
3.2/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an amberish copper with a creamy white head on it. Smells of toasts malts with a bit of nut character. The taste is close to the nose with a nice toasted malt but deviates from the aroma in that it has a stronggrassy hop bitterness. I don't lnow if it my palate or this brewery but I am getting a lot of grass hop on their beers. As Ith their other beers, I really enjoy the story behind the name and appreciate the effOrt put into the beer but it isn't one I would necessarily go out of my way for. Worth a try, though?, definitely.

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Photo of mdcrouser
3.25/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Copper-tinted brown pour, with a faint light white head, lacy fingers scratching their way down the glass.

Bready malt dominates, leaving little else to the imagination. Smells alot like a brewery, actually.

Highly bready - caramel, woodsy, pumpernickel, with only an allusion of citrus - grapefruit, orange.

Crisp and hearty, with ample carbonation.

Not a great beer, but I certainly could drink a lot of them.

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Photo of emmasdad
2.98/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Dan (and Ratman) for sharing this one last night. Although I sincerly appreciate it, I did not enjoy it. Poured a dark amber color with a little bit of head on top. Aromas of cardboard, nuts and caramel. Medium bodied, with flavors of cardboard, roasted nuts and caramel malt. Kind of sad, maybe this one sat for a while.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass. This is from a selection of Free State Brewing beers send to me by JeepCop. Thanks Dale!

Pours a clear coppery amber, with a ½ finger of off-white head. This retains with a thin creamy film that stays frothy when swirled leaving back some nice looking foamy swathes of lacing. The aroma is floral and leafy smelling, with some green citrus flavors that mingle with sticky caramel malts and a fairly prominent deep roasted feel that fills the back of the nose. This is decent, if maybe a little too heavy on the roast at times.

The taste is similar to the nose, with a mix of caramel, toast, and bitter citric fruit that gives the overall profile a bit of a green tangy feel. There is some darkness to the flavors but they seem less pronounced than in they were in the aroma. Leftover hops linger on the tail-end with some lingering dryness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a smooth easy crispness in the mouth that definitely helps keeps this quite drinkable.

This was quite an interesting beer, with some characteristics keeping this closer to traditional Amber Ale and then others finding their over more over to the Altbier category. It never really seems to find it's footing in the middle of the two. That being said though, this is by no means a bad beer in any way and just seems a little confused. There is still more than enough flavor and drinkibility for you to take a chance on it. Worth a look.

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Photo of jmvecchio1
3.66/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep rusty copper with a rocky white head. The head dissipates to leave a sticky lace on the sides of the glass. The smell of the beer is pure malty sweetness. The beer tastes of sweet roasty malts with a good balance of hop bitterness on the back end of the drink. The beer finishes relative clean, with just a slight malty sweetness. This is one of those great sessionable beers. Well worth picking up a six pack of.

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Photo of nicdub
3.87/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- dark amber in color, like coke with cherry in it. noticeable carbonation. 1 finger off-white head that quickly recedes. no lacing. translucent.

S - Biscuit malt, caramel, molasses, medium to rich on the nose

T - Biscuit malt again, not too robust, but just right. medium body. aftertaste is more of the original taste and the smell. a nice well balanced brew. masked hops and alcohol add depth.

M - Nice carbonation, medium body, not quite "fluffy" but well balanced nonetheless. Really crisp and smooth.

D - Not a true session beer for me. 3 would be about right. CAn't knock it too much though.

O- This is a nice fall/winter beer. I really like this and it would be good as a dinner pairing as well, with a burger or steak, or BBQ. A nice example of the "altbier" style.

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Photo of midwestbrewers
3.33/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours kind of copperish with a 2 finger head. Nice and frothy head with little lacing though.

S: Immediately your nose is rushed with sweet malts. Not much if any hop characteristics.

T: The taste is very malty and sort of sweet. Maybe a little hop bite on the back but very lack-luster.

This is an OK beer. Too sweet and malty for me. The lack of any hop character is a downer for me. Great beer but not in the category for me. Very smooth and goes down easy is a plus though. Great beer Free State Brewing!!!

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Photo of dbossman
4.1/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruby brown; clear and bubbly with a thin quickly dissipating head; leaves a faint film with nice lacing

S: Sweet caramel malts; tea leaves and lemon juice linger on the back end

T: Nice subtly sweet maltiness rich with caramel and wet grains; backed by lemon and tea; lingering pleasant aftertaste

F: Good even mouth feel; even a bit of sediment left on tongue that is pleasant

D: Very nice, drinkable beer; first beer from Free State but hopefully not the last

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Photo of zhanson88
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a dark copper color, almost brown, with ruby highlights. About a finger of light caramel head forms, reducing down to a fine film of lacing.

Smell: a lot of caramel malts and earthiness is present with slight piney and floral hops.

Taste: lots of caramel malts up front, with floral and piney hops. Maybe a hint of a coffee on the back end. This is a pretty balanced beer, lots of earthy tones with slight hops. Not the most flavorful beer overall, but still a nice offering.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: in between light and medium bodied and pretty smooth drinking overall. This is definitely a beer that I could drink a few of, pretty nice. Looking forward to trying more from Free State.

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Photo of Soonami
3.56/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ad Astra Ale is a beer I got from a Reddit Secret Santa gift. It is a nice looking reddish brown beer with just a little lace of rocky head. The beer smells darkly toasty like pumpernickel bread and also a little sweet caramel malt. The beer is a little fruity, very nicely malty and accented with good german hoppy bittering. This is a good beer with a nice aftertaste that I definitely enjoyed.

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Photo of jaycount
4.05/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Golden appearance. Clean fresh looking white head. Good ale. Not alot of extra flavors thrown in, but a good taste of hops. Earthy, hoppy, malty taste. Average mouthfeel, not alot of carbonation. Very sessionable.

Will be in my normal rotation as long as I can keep getting it around town.

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.88/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes. On tap in August 2009.

Pours a moderate brown color with a slight rusty tint. Short white head. The nose brigs some fruits and lift caramel plus a small amount of hops. Bad news underneath though. Just like other beers here, we were unfortunate to get somethig bad going on, as the taste here was quite buttery as well. Luckily this hadn't pervaded other aspects of the beer all that much. It's too bad as I really enjoyed their barleywine and that had no off flavors at all. Maybe we just happened to catch a bad time either with brewing or bad lines. It was at the brewpub though, so either way I have to say that it's on them.

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Photo of duhbled
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is my favorite at the local water hole. The poor is full with a nice 1/2 inch head that is creamy white. The smell is rather intoxicating itself but the mouthfeel is smooth and it goes down glass after glass. The taste is slightly sweet and fruity, usually reminding me of plum. It carries a good amount of kick and after 5 I feel like I want one more. It has the right balance between hoppiness and yeast which makes this Altbier a pure delight.

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Photo of BeerIsArTT
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this 12 oz. bottle from my Stella Artois glass that I got from a bar in Chicago on my 21st Birthday.

A: Deep red, almost blood red color, translucent with a yellow/creme colored head that sets nicely upon medium thick lacing, with creamy appearance. Gorgeous looking beer.

S: Medium roasted malt with a hint of hop resin, mild floral aroma punctuated by a slight smell of alcohol, pleasant and satisfying aroma.

T: Light, airy maltiness with a slight tinge of alcohol dryness, finishes with a nice hint of floral hoppiness and a clean hay zest.

M: Rich malty texture with a crisp/dry finish. Starts strong and full bodied, finishes with a nice smoothness, but the alcohol leaves my mouth slightly dry and wanting more to quench my thirst.

D: Very drinkable, for the smooth and fine quality of the malt, a good medium bodied ale with a hefty malt flavor and a light balance of floral hops. This is one of the most popular beers in Lawrence, and it is obvious why. I can only hope Freestate goes national soon.

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Photo of JEdmund
4.15/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Plumb colored; small head, which quickly dissipates.

Inviting fruity aroma, berries, caramel, and just a touch of earthy hops (Northern Brewer and Fuggles)

Taste & Body
Well balanced, leaning towards hoppy; opens slightly sweet and malty, finishes nicely with complex flavors of both fruity yeast, caramel, bitter hops, and ending dry; light body and good texture with the perfect level of carbonation

It's a good choice and recipe for a house beer. Different enough not to be just another amber ale in the portfolio.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.82/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served on-tap at Flying Saucer: Kansas City, MO, into a pint glass

Pours a muddy brown color with definite inflections of ruby. The head was eggshell white and only about .5 fingers in size (but its a bar pour into a pint glass, that's kind of the norm). Lacing was solid.

Ad Astra has a very malty nose. Caramel malt for sure and some toastiness to boot. Lots of dry smells too; leafy smells. Tobacco grows stronger in the nose as the beer warms and there is some tea leaf aroma there as well.

This beer is hard to contextualize and figure out. I mean that in a completely good way. After you get acclimated to the the rush of sweet malt flavors you can pick up some distant orange peel. There is a spiciness that hints at flowers and fruit... its kind of like potpourri in a way. The leafy tobacco and oolong tea flavors show up on the palate. This is pretty tasty.

All of that craziness of flavor is held together by a mouthfeel that isn't really noticeable. Personally, I often enjoy when a beer's mouthfeel doesn't stick out in your mind. It is a workmanlike feel, effective but not splashy. The interesting flavors make for a very drinkable alitbier. This is sessionable for sure.

Free State is an impressive little brewery that is slowly but surly expanding. Their Ad Astra ale is one of their oldest offering but it holds up as a worthy part of their lineup.

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Photo of ZebedeeDuBois
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on draft from my local craft bar.

It is a deep reddish brown, with clarity. The head doesn't last long. It smells and tastes malty, and reminds me of a marzen style beer. It drinks smoothly and cleanly, excellent for accompanying food. A definite favorite.

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Photo of emerge077
4.13/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my cousin for breaking out a surprise growler of this at the family smörgåsbord. Into my new Free State pint glass (also courtesy of my cousin) this poured a nice bright amber color, good clarity, with a generous cap of puffy offwhite foam. The lace was sticky and stayed around for awhile.

Aroma was mainly malty with mild multigrain and sunflower seed notes. Flavor was similarly bready with some light sweetness that finished dry. There were some notes of earthy hop as it came to room temperature. The body was light for an alt, but this rendered it very drinkable. I drank my half of the growler no problem. Free State is on my radar, hope to visit the brewpub someday.

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Photo of beertunes
3.95/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought back by a friend after a recent trip to Kansas. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a deep, rich ruby-brown color without much head, likely due to transportation factors.

The aromas were full, rich, earthy and malty, with hint of fruit ( plum? cherry?). The taste built upon the foundation set, being smoothly full and malty, just slightly sweet, without a noticeable fruit taste, and a pleasant hop tang on the finish.

The body was full and well rounded, not heavy and very smooth. Drinkability was great, if available to me, this would be a regular quaff. Overall, a wonderful beer that makes me want to visit Kansas.

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Photo of Deuane
3.46/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Copper with a medium off-white head that left moderate lace.

S-Muted aroma of peppery hops and a bit of spiciness.

T-Roasty malts and a bit of hop spice. Overall rather dull though.

M-Medium-light body with a nice sharp crispness.

D-Not a bad beer but this one was a bit too boring for me. I found nothing exceptional about it. A good "training wheels" craft beer

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Photo of Goliath
3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark amber in color with one inch of yellowed head sitting on top. Good retention and some nice lacing.

Nice aroma with caramel and a little hop spiciness.

Flavors are nice, with caramel and chocolate. A slight hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and lightly carbonated.

Drinkability is fairly high with good flavors.

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Photo of zeff80
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this several times at the Free State, however, this review comes from The Brick Oven in Topeka.

A - Poured a copper color with a foamy, off-white, two-finger head that left some nice lace.

S - It smelled of hops and bittersweet malt.

T - This tasted quite hoppy and had a smooth roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and smooth. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good alt and yet another good brew from the Free State Brewery.

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Photo of SafeAtFirst
4.18/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a nonic pint glass. The appearance of this beer is a deep clear ruby/amber color with a slightly off-white head. There is not a lot of aroma - some light roasted malts and earth are all I can pick up. The flavor is much better a good toasty malt base with just enough hop bitterness and carbonation to wash it all away and send me back in for another sip, perfectly balanced.

Overall this is one of my "go-to" beers at Free State. It's a real smooth, easy drinking, award winning beer.

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Photo of Boto
3.76/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught: Mine poured a clear amber color that was tinged with red. It had a bit of an off-white head that left a decent amount of lacing down the glass. The aroma was a bit weak, while still nice. It was somewhat malty and a bit grassy. The taste was much better. A decent maly body without any real sweetness. A bit of a roastiness to it with a hint of coffee. A fair amount of biterness to it. This is really a decent brew.

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Ad Astra Ale from Free State Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 60 ratings.