McNeill's Ruby Ale | McNeill's Brewery

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McNeill's Ruby AleMcNeill's Ruby Ale
72 Ratings
McNeill's Ruby AleMcNeill's Ruby Ale

Brewed by:
McNeill's Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-13-2001

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 72 |  Reviews: 57
Reviews by wyllder:
Photo of wyllder
3.83/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, cloudy amber with a big sticky 1 inch white head. Leaves a ton of lacing on the glass as you go.

Citrus hops assail the nose and a slight candied malt edge sits in the background. This one lets you know that it's going to be a hoppy ride.

Most salient feature on the palate is citrus bitterness. Classic IPA notes of acidic apple & grapefruit are here. The only hints it's an amber ale? Dryness. Overall feel on the palate is astringent and almost stinging. Malt comes through on the midsip but is pretty much negated by the astringency. Aftertaste is dry and bitter.

Mouthfeel suffers due to the astringency. Additionally, mouthfeel is very resinous.

Drinkability is ok.

Overall, this is decent brew. A lot hoppier than I'm accustomed to in an amber, and a bit unbalanced as well. Someone looking for a classic amber might find this an overpowering letdown, but if hop-heavy is the way you like it, this is worth a try.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.51/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this in West Dover VT.Liked the color a very nice pour,there is a real hop presence here quite grassy overtop of the brown sugar roasted malt flavors.A decent brew likely better on tap and fresh but well crafted wich is always a plus and better than alot of "traditional" reds out there to be had.

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Photo of MadScientist
2.5/5  rDev -29.6%

Photo of Todd
2.97/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: Brown bomber bottle (750ml). A very impress red contruction paper label that was photo copied and hand glued ... WTF, Ray? Get some pre-school kids to label your beers for 'ya? No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours a luscious red hued amber beer with a massive clumpy, lumpy frothy, patchy off-white head that sticks to the glass and won't go away.

Smell: Mega hop aroma. Piney, yeasty and a tad fruity. Kind of odd, actually.

Taste: Starts of smooth, but turns rather raw and tart. Wood, earth and fruity flavours follow. Tart can be likened to citrus rind, while there's also a lot of grape skin-like tannin lurking amongst the flavours ... all of which forms the spine of this beer. Mild sweetness is shy, but there's enough residuals to make for a near medium-body. Finish has loads of hop residuals that seem like they won't go away, and a touch of yeast in the back.

Notes: Interesting? Yes. Hoppy? Yes -- you burb them back-up. Actually the hops are the highlight of this beer, as the rest fails to pull-thru. There's not nearly enough malt to balance and gratify the palate, which is too bad as this beer has major potential for hop heads.

An over-the-top hoppy beer with no back-up.

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Photo of Billolick
3.68/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

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Photo of jondeelee
3.38/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

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Photo of far333
3.55/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle was filled right to the top. Slightly hazy amber honey colored with a half-inch fluffy off-white head that slowly lowers down and leaves rings of lace around the glass.

Fresh floral and sweet citrus aroma, some yeasty notes also.

Initial light malty flavor, followed by floral hoppy notes, not overly hopped. A yeasty funk works its way in, and sits down in the background for the whole ride. A hint of citrus rind and some spice emerges in the finish.

Mouthfeel is initially slick, but quickly becomes tingly, bubbly, gassy.

Flavorful beer, but the yeasty flavors detract for my tastes.

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Photo of Brenden
3.91/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.2/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle bomber>imperial pint glass

AP: Dark, rusty amber, cloudy and thick looking. 2" tall, thick frothy off-white head, good retention for a Mcneill's bottle. Nice sticky legs.

nose: Sweet potent hops scent, sweet sugary malt.

Taste: A hearty, fruity and flavorful hop brilliance is eveident first. Sweet malted barley effect with an underyling wheaty/yeasty taste that finishes with a decent and complex fruity hop.

MF: Medium body, feels heavy and substantial on the palate like a good Mcneill's should! The fruity hop effect seems to dance on the tongue.

DA: This was an excellent brew, very satisfying. Good for a bottle.

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Photo of KenC
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Listed as an amber, and it has the colour. Piney aroma. Hoppy enough for an IPA. With blind tasting, this would be to me like a Stone IPA. Leaf hop dry, with some malting and carmel. Very quaffable. Nicely done, and given the chronology of reviews, i would say they have improved it and moved it over to a hophead delight.

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Photo of Gmann
4/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

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Photo of edchicma
3.41/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Whoa...Hoppy? Definitely!!!! Nice amber color....small head that remained. Smell...very hoppy and piney...Taste was almost citrus with a very strong malt presence...very littel balance of malts. Mouthfeel was medium bodied with a very tart finish. Drinkability was a bit on thew harsh side due to the over hoppiness.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.48/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bought this in July in Burlington, Vt.

Appearance: Indeed ruby colored, with weak little head.

Smell: Wow...I wasn't expecting this at all. Incredibly hoppy, honey, almost strawberry jam sticky hop smell.

Taste: I found it a little too watery at first, which was a dissapointment. I could barely taste any malt at all. The hop character that started off slow as well built up some momentum after a few sips and saved the day. Another intriguing brew with an awful label from Ray McNeil.

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Photo of Ajlvt
4/5  rDev +12.7%

Photo of puboflyons
2.78/5  rDev -21.7%
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.

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Photo of akorsak
3.88/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of u2carew
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of AsburyParkJMH
3.53/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a good but not great amber from mcneill's. i haven't had their firehouse in ages, but recall it as the better of these two ambers. it pours a basic but nice ruby/amber colour with a thinnish sticky head. the smell is fairly unassuming: sweet hop and some mlat with a bit of autumn-like pine thrown in the mix. this one is fairly smooth overall but has a bit earth qualities to it. the finish has a touch of sweetness and some dirtiness to it. pine tones are noticeable throughout. i dind't detect the hoppiness that many have proclaimed for this one. hops were well balanced and intergrated with the malt i felt. this is a simple no frills brew thats easy to drink. the problem is, there are alot of ambers that are easy to drink and are crafted better than this one. like i said, there's nothing to really scoff at with this brew, and it is better than many ambers i've had, but there are still better options out there.

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Photo of Noelito76
3/5  rDev -15.5%

Photo of plaid75
3.24/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a medium copper hue with a huge chunky white head. There was very good retention and sticky lacing.

The smell featured a floral hop, a touch of lemon and a subtle grainy malt.

The taste consisted of a rather bland malt, some hop bitterness and a bit of sourness.

The mouthfeel was average for the style.

Overall a decent red ale. A bit weak in the malt department, with some off tart flavors.

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Photo of weeare138
3.54/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hopdog...
Appears a cloudy amber with a small white head and little lacing.
Smell is of caramel, and oakiness with a bitter hoppiness.
Taste is of caramel, slight oak, perhaps ringwood yeast in the mix.
Mouthfeel is bitter and slightly water with hops lingering in the background.
Drinkability isn't bad. Enjoyable. I'd get this again.

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Photo of david18
4/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.37/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I shared this with herbjones during a mini southern california beer advocate tasting session. This is a very nice India Pale Ale. It has clear amber color, and pours with no head. It is quite hoppy in both taste & flavor. It's quite drinkable.
I must add, the label looks like the brewer's kid made it from red construction paper.

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Photo of victrola42
3.98/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Firey red/ orange red

Smell: Mildly hoppy, has that malty typical red ale aroma

Taste: Grapefruit/citrus but the sweet malts seem to smooth it out some. Almost get a bready taste, like a fresh baked sour dough.

Feel: Lightly carbonated, slightly tangy- hence the sour dough taste.

Drink: Very drinkable. Smooth.

Reasonably priced, under $5.00. Recommended.

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McNeill's Ruby Ale from McNeill's Brewery
Beer rating: 3.55 out of 5 with 72 ratings