Ruby Ale
McNeill's Brewery

Ruby AleRuby Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Red Ale - American Amber / Red
Ranked #744
ABV:
5.7%
Score:
81
Ranked #43,348
Avg:
3.57 | pDev: 12.89%
Reviews:
57
Ratings:
72
From:
McNeill's Brewery
 
Vermont, United States
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  0
Gots
  0
SCORE
81
Good
Ruby AleRuby Ale
Notes:
Reviews: 57 | Ratings: 72 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BostonHops
BostonHops from Massachusetts

3.38/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle served in a pint glass.
freshness info: states that the beer is best before the last day of the month notched, which in this case is september.

as has been noted by other reviewers, the label is completely different from the picture in the beer's profile, with the new one depicting a genie and genie lamps... which is good, because nothing puts me in the mood for a hoppy amber ale like Aladdin.

pours a slightly cloudy dull medium-amber tone while yielding a huge, billowing, 3" + head that fades at a slow to moderate rate, leaving lots of lacing behind. hoppy characters are a bit faded in the nose. seems the beer has fallen off a bit, despite being a month from the 'best before' date. good dose of toasty malts.

flavor, thankfully, is an improvement, with the hoppy presence more perceivable here. some citrus and pine, along with the toasted maltiness that was evident in the aroma. medium bodied in the mouth with average carbonation.

overall a decent beer. i think i caught in right at the precipice of it's decent, so there's little doubt i'd have a better take with a fresh sample.

(originally reviewed: 08-23-2011)

Jun 20, 2012
Photo of mvanaskie13
mvanaskie13 from Pennsylvania

2.62/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Opened the bottle and had to run to the sink to save the beer, and it kept gushing! Let it set 15 minutes...

poured into a fluted glass, color is amber head is thick and weird up top; translucent.

Smell is mild caramel flavors with a nice hoppiness that is piney, earthy.

Taste is somewhat bland then really bitter; flavor is lightly biscuity but overtaken by the spicy, earthy bitterhops.

Mouthfeel is to bitter for an amber ale, presents strongly on the tongue and doesn't let go.

Overall, very dissapointing brew, odd mixture of flavors and scents for an amber and 1/4 of it ended up on my floor.

Jan 16, 2012
Photo of corby112
corby112 from Pennsylvania

3.14/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark golden ruby color with bright red edges and a two finger frothy light beige head. Very good retention, only slowly fading into a lasting cap that coats the glass with streaks of soapy lacing.

Floral hop aroma with earthy notes that are countered by a sweet malt backbone. Hints of earthy pine needle and subtle citrus balanced by hints of sweet rye and caramel as well as some biscuit and toast.

Medium bodied and similar to the aroma with a slightly stronger hop presence. Earthy and floral up front while only being slightly bitter. Kind of dry with the hop flavor lingering over the sweet malt backbone into a slight dry finish. Subtle earthy pine flavor followed by caramel, rye and biscuit. Session able but kind of bland.

Oct 23, 2011
Photo of DoreenAndDave
DoreenAndDave from Maine

3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer is a hazy amber with a very thick cream-colored head. Smell is bready and yeasty with some hints of hops. Taste is good, but not amazing. Malt up front with a pleasant bitter finish. Not a lot of depth or nuance, but solid. Mouthfeel is fine; it seems a little more carbonated than perhaps is necessary. Overall, I would rate this as good but not great. The bottle I had was a month past its best-by date. I suspect this would be better if a little fresher.

Aug 29, 2011
Photo of perrymarcus
perrymarcus from Massachusetts

3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle served in a pint glass.
freshness info: states that the beer is best before the last day of the month notched, which in this case is september.

as has been noted by other reviewers, the label is completely different from the picture in the beer's profile, with the new one depicting a genie and genie lamps... which is good, because nothing puts me in the mood for a hoppy amber ale like Aladdin.

pours a slightly cloudy dull medium-amber tone while yielding a huge, billowing, 3" + head that fades at a slow to moderate rate, leaving lots of lacing behind.

hoppy characters are a bit faded in the nose. seems the beer has fallen off a bit, despite being a month from the 'best before' date. good dose of toasty malts.

flavor, thankfully, is an improvement, with the hoppy presence more perceivable here. some citrus and pine, along with the toasted maltiness that was evident in the aroma. medium bodied in the mouth with average carbonation.

overall a decent beer. i think i caught in right at the precipice of it's decent, so there's little doubt i'd have a better take with a fresh sample.

Aug 23, 2011
Photo of jondeelee
jondeelee from Massachusetts

3.38/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ruby Ale starts off with a relatively light nose, composed of roughly equal parts hops and malts. The latter brings toasted grain and roasted nut aromas, and the latter imparts a faint grapefruity note.

On the tongue, the beer has far more to present, beginning with a nice malty smack that brings pecan, toasted cereal, and faint hints of chocolate malt, all mixed with a good brown sugary sweetness. Halfway through the mouthful the hops kick in, bringing grapefruit and pine flavors to the mix. The aftertaste is largely bitter hops and toasted nuts, lingering on the tongue and stinging the soft palate for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high.

Overall, this is a good ruby ale, well-balanced and nicely nuanced to offer most everyone a flavor or two that they'll find appealing. If anything, it could offer a few more fruit flavors--some apricot would have mixed in nicely with the cereal and nuts--but as it is, it's still a good beverage.

Aug 03, 2011
Photo of Brenden
Brenden from Ohio

3.91/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well a lot's changed with this beer over time, and not just the label with an almost "Arabian Nights" scene depicted in what I've come to recognize as the artistic style particular to McNeill's (newer) labels rather than a crappy paper label. The inside seems a little different too. Notes are a few nights old.

A big, creamy, billowing light orange head caps a beer that looks the thick, clouded dark orange-brown of pure, unrefined apple cider. This head begins about three fingers tall and never fully dissipates, leaving plenty of lacing spottily on the glass.
My first thought even as it pours (and before I've established the color) is of Grany Smith apples. After the pour some grains kick under a big, rich bready and caramel malt backbone with a bit of sweetness to it. Hops don't come out as clearly as they could here in the aroma.
Hops really do come out in the flavor, however, as this beer becomes predominantly bitter in a mostly herbal and floral way. A bit of that Granny Smith tartness is in there and the balance from malts is still good, though they almost get kicked aside.
The body is on the fuller side of medium. A crispness begins up front and overshadows the smoothness, though it doesn't choke it out. A long-lingering finish is dry.

Jul 21, 2011
Photo of david18
david18 from New York

4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a sixteen ounce draft of this at the Amsterdam Ale House on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This was one of a number of very good amber ales that I've had recently, which was a nice change from all the IPA's that bars seem to feature.

Appearance was very red, much more red than amber with a nice light red head. Very pretty.

Aroma had a nice mix of light malts and light hops, very well balanced.

Flavor was surprisingly complex for a beer this light and of this style. A sweet maltiness combined with some light citrus hops. Very good.

Overall, I would recommend this beer, particularly during the warm weather months.

Jun 23, 2011
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73 from Rhode Island

3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle served in my McNeill's pint glass. Best before the last day of August notched on the label. Pours a semi-hazy caramel with a tight, two inch, cream-colored head. Head eventually settles into a solid quarter inch cap. Some textured strands of lacing are revealed; however, they appear close to the cap line. Nose expresses citrus notes, a slight floral hops presence and a malty character in the background (perhaps a trace of caramel). Citrus flavors hit the front of the palate, followed by an earthy/herbal quality. The malty backbone is still there, but there's also a slight buttery quality (diacetyl) that all but covers up the caramel flavor. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a carbonation that falls just short of lively. There's also some astringency attributable to the citrus. A solid Amber, but not one of my preferred from this brewer. However, the price is definitely right at $3.99

May 27, 2011
Photo of EkimGram
EkimGram from New York

3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from 650mL bottle into Sam Adams "Perfect Pint" glass. Pours a 2-finger, fluffy head. A nice amer colour, more brown than ruby.

Smell: Aroma is mainly malts with a bit more than a bit of hops. There is a bit of fruity sweetness as well.

Taste: Bitterness from the hops is front and foremost. Malt is following and then ends with some fruity bite. A little bitter heavy, otherwise pretty balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a mild amount of carbonation. Leaves a little bit of film in the mouth.

Drinkability: The bitter is a little too strong for my preference. Not a great beer but not a bad beer either.

Feb 24, 2011
Photo of MoreThanWine
MoreThanWine from Massachusetts

3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

They must have an updated label on this beer, mine looked different. And they may have boosted the formula perhaps. Poured almost all head at first and took a long time to settle to 1/8". Hazy reddish color (uh, ruby). Medium body with a good mouthfeel. Smells and tastes like a mid-range IPA. Bitter but not too much.
A nice beer but I'm not sure where or how it won 13 major awards as the label claims.

Jan 30, 2011
Photo of akorsak
akorsak from Pennsylvania

3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 650 mL bottle from the Lebanon, NH Coop.

A: The amber is an attractive copper color, one that showcases a bright orange glow when held at the correct angle. Translucent, the ale is darkened by a pervasive haziness. A finger of white head has left lace that encircles my glass.

S: The ale smells much better than I was expecting. Bready malts, grainy with caramel sweetness are paired with citrusy hops that have a nice strength to them. The juiciness comes through pleasantly in the nose.

T: The caramel stands out, a smooth sweetness that nicely carries the rest of the ale. As the caramel wafts away, citrusy hops take their place. The hoppiness is zesty, sweeter than I'd expect for an amber. As the ale warms, unfortunately, the hoppiness subsides in favor of the caramel. Citrus is still present, just not as strong. A strong start to my McNeill's portfolio.

M: The mouthfeel is chewy, plenty of caramel to aid in that regard. The hoppiness that is strongest about 1/3 of the way through is worth the price of admission.

D: I'm very pleased with the Ruby Ale, a flavorful and well-balanced ale that didn't disappoint.

Jan 15, 2011
Photo of schlazzgraft
schlazzgraft from New York

3.31/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My second McNeill's brew, and I must say I was a bit disappointed. Not quite enough balance, but it does have its good points as well. Poured from a 22oz bomber

A - Nice reddish amber (as the name would suggest) with a massive rocky head and nice lacing down the glass. The first glass was a little cloudy, and the second one got some of the yeasties in the bottom (which I don't mind! gotta love bottle conditioning from a commercial beer)

S - Nothing spectacular, a little spicy and hoppy with not much malt. Could use a little more oomph in my opinion.

T - About the same as the smell, a little on the bitter side with some faint astringent malt character. Nothing really stands out or seems special. The rich yeast flavor is nice, not too overpowering, but overall not too impressed.

M - Pretty decent, not too chewy and not too thin. The astringency makes it a little pucker-worthy and drying though

D - I had no problem finishing the whole 22oz, but I'm not sure I'd choose this one again. I remember their ESB being fantastic, but this one is sort of lackluster.

Dec 22, 2010
Photo of Kendo
Kendo from New York

2.97/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Poured from the bomber into a nonic-type pint glass. Body is hazy dark amber with a 1-finger whitish head. No lace.

S: Interesting - sweetish malt and some sort of spice. Rye perhaps?

T: Taste is off - not sure exactly what it is that's wrong with this beer. I get a strong metallic taste and a general sense of stale beer. Tart or sourness at the finish.

M: Too thin; very highly carbonated.

D: Not what I wanted at all. I ended up drain-pouring this one.

Notes: Back in the late 90s, BA MRMOJORISIN used to bring me McNeill's bottles from Vermont all the time. I remember thoroughly enjoying all their beers. Recently they've begun distributing in NYS. I'd heard rumors of quality-control issues over the years, and I think that may be what happened here. I remember drinking this one and the Firehouse Amber and really enjoying them about 10, 12 years ago. But this bottle just didn't seem right.

Nov 19, 2010
Photo of Billolick
Billolick from New York

3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber $4.79 (nice to enjoy some quality brew for a nice price like that, when so many (too many) bombers are in the $10 or above range in my neck of the woods) Best before dating notched onto the bottom of the front label. Pours clouded dark apricot amber, medium tan head, quickly departing and leaving a thicker blotchy film and better then average and well developed lacing and slippery froth upon a gentle swirl. Smooth malty brew, with the nose emitting gentle whiffs of citric hps and biscuity malts. Pleasant, balanced and easy drinking. Notes of light tea, mild citric hops bittering things up and understated malt smoothening things out and easing the taste buds into the finish. Meh, respectable better then middle of the road sessioner.

Aug 05, 2010
Photo of Gmann
Gmann from New York

4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy traditional amber ale color with a tight off-white head that left some nice clingy lacing on the glass. The aroma is of a nice juicy fresh hop aroma. Juicy citrus aroma. The taste is quite hoppy. Good citrus flavors with the grapefruit but there is also some piney & resiny hops. As it warms the hop flavor turns into more of a tropical flavor. The hoppy bitterness is offset with a sweet caramel malt. This is a tasty hoppy amber ale. Moderate body with tingly carbonation. A bit hop forward but more balanced then anything. This is a good brew. I can't fault too much, perhaps the malt can be slightly buttery. On par with NN but not as fresh and juicy. Good hoppy amber, give it a try.

Feb 06, 2010
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons from New Hampshire

2.78/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

From the 1 pint 6 fl. oz. bottle marked November (no year). The pour is a cloudy amber-red with about a half inch of foamy cream colored head that simmers down in short order. The aroma is weakly malted, yeasty and has something akin to watermelon. The mouthfeel is moderate. The taste is very much on the sour and tart side rather than smooth and caramel like a lot of amber ales. It was slow to go down because it was too tart for my tastes.

Dec 13, 2009
Photo of u2carew
u2carew from Massachusetts

3.15/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz Bomber consumed on 9/24.
A) Pours with a big bubble head. Lacing is semi-sticky and thin. Hazy. Amber in color.
S) Earthy hops. Sweet caramel. peach notes.
T) Mellow malt up front. Robust hop bite from the start to the finish. A slight sourness lingers throughout.
M) Crisp. Thin body feel. Mild tannin.
D) Not a stand out. Average. Wouldn't recommend it.

Sep 27, 2009
Photo of BeerNinja007
BeerNinja007 from New Hampshire

3.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a chilled pint glass. "Best before last day of <November>."

A: Heavy pour yields a 2-finger ivory head that settles to a thin, dense layer. Brew is slightly cloudy and the color of honey. Insignificant bits of foam linger on the glass.

S: Nose dominated by pineapple. Not much to it, just a moderate pineapple scent, very one dimensional. Very faint malt presence.

T: Holy cow, taste is much bolder than the smell. Bitter inky hops, moderately robust light and medium roasted malts. Much more dynamic. Pineapple note is there, but is only part of a thick boquet of berries, floral, honey. Very dynamic. Smell and taste are like night and day.

M: Slight sugar slickness but hops counterbalance well. Moderately bodied overall. Carbonation adequate but a little on the light side.

D: Wasn't inspired by the smell at all, but really got into it after the first sip. Moderately thick, medium body. Would be a good fall beer. Almost like a fruit and floral ester-laden Octoberfest.

Edit: reading other reviews and they're all over the place. I wonder if they're having issues with constency. I'ill be glad to try it again to see if I have a different experience, especially at this price.
___

Second edit, Aug 26th, 2009:

$3.59 for a 22oz bomber at Beverage King in West Lebanon, NH.

Got another bottle and it is terrible. Sour. Bad bottle. Two sips and it went down the sink. Undrinkable. $3.59 for a 22oz bomber at Beverage King in West Lebanon, NH.

Take home message: McNeill's has consistency issues, drink at your own risk.

Aug 05, 2009
Photo of smcolw
smcolw from Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impressive rocky head of four fingers--good chunky lace on the side of the glass. Crystal clear dark amber color. A beautiful beer.

Lots of crystal malt balanced with a spicy hop aroma. Notes of butter and caramel. There's also a (very) mild bitterness that I've never smelt before in a beer--it's appealing and unusual.

Smooth, creamy feel to the initial sip. Lots of dry-ish malt, some nuttiness. Becomes bitter quickly on the tongue. Pleasant hoppy swallow with a long aftertaste of pepper and cumin. Love the complexity; keeps me interested for a very long time. Worthy of a multiple purchase.

Aug 01, 2009
Photo of donkeyrunner
donkeyrunner from Massachusetts

2.84/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

My bottle looked a lot cooler than the one pictured here. Freshness dating!

Dark amber color with a large, pillowy white head. Great retention that left a foam trail in the shape of a christmas tree.

Smells of fall fruit, citrus hop and pineapple juice with a tad of bready malt underneath. Messy.

A citrus bomb typical of amarillo mixed with a mild fruity malt presence. A disappointing, wayward sour taste pops in here and there. Juice-like mouthfeel.

This beer reminds me of John Mayer--he has a poignant wit, clever humor, and can play a mean guitar...but all his songs suck. McNeill's Ruby is just like that: it has all the components of a good beer, but just doesn't come together.

Jul 08, 2009
Photo of ckeegan04
ckeegan04 from Texas

3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Lightly hazy amber in color. Head is about an inch thick, off-white in color. Quickly fades to almost nothing. Minimal lace left behind.

S - Grape juice? Fruity aroma, primarily of grapes and a hint of prunes. Seet caramel aroma becomes stronger as the beer warms and provides a nice balance to the fruitiness. Not sure what to expect in the taste.

T - Very malt forward taste. Sweet breads and caramel mixed with a hint of fruit. A little raisin, grape and plum all mixed togeterh. Very sweet without being overwhelmingly sweet.

M/D - Light to medium bodied, very crisp. Easy drinking but the sweetness could get to be a little much by the end of the 22oz bomber. Still, a very respectable red/amber ale.

Jun 23, 2009
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
LilBeerDoctor from New York

2.91/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle. Pours a cloudy brown with a small white head. Aroma of caramel malt, raisin, and bitter grassy hops. Flavor is quite similar with sweet malt initially, raisins and a bitter finish. IPA?? I don't think so, it's not very hoppy. Not that flavorful really, just pretty simple. Just kinda blah.

Jun 11, 2009
Photo of gfreed
gfreed from Massachusetts

4.38/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A welcoming dark amber color with a medium-dense head with plenty of loose bubbles, with a sharp nose of hops, citrus and bread. I expected plenty of hops in the taste, but was greeted instead with a whack of malt and only a mild hint of the hops-- edgy enough to bite a bit, but not so much to taste like a grapefruit. Exactly what I like. Very caramelly, somewhat bready and enough fizz to make it tingle. Don't be put off by the low price: this is another excellent offering from McNeill's. As with Berkshire Brewing, McNeill's is an outstanding New England brewery.

May 21, 2009
Photo of albern
albern from Massachusetts

3.96/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm going to disagree with the Bros. on this one. This is a really tasty and first rate Red Ale. There is substance, body, complexity, taste and character in this beer. Yum! The beer pours a reasonably clear amber color with some mahogany hues. There is a nice off white creamy head the is okay in retention. No lacing. The nose on the beer is very slight. I'm getting some grape skin whiffs, some faint florals, maybe some sweetish malts, there isn't much there even putting my nose practically in the beer.

The taste makes up for the lack of aroma. There are some funked up florals, some nice caramel malts, some roasted malts as well. There is an acerbic almost citrus like tartness to the beer and a slightly boozy rum soaked flavor on the back end. There is plenty of leafy hop, maybe a bit of juicy estery hop in there too. There is a slight cardboard flat taste that is hovering over the beer too. There is a pastiche of flavors in this beer and it is interesting. I was expecting a much higher ABV because of some of the booziness and throaty feel. This is a pretty full bodied beer with a big palate of flavors. Each sip brings something else to the fore. This is a good beer and I'm glad that they got rid of that silly red crepe paper label. L'Chaim.

May 10, 2009
Ruby Ale from McNeill's Brewery
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 72 ratings