McNeill's Champ Ale | McNeill's Brewery

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McNeill's Champ AleMcNeill's Champ Ale
61 Ratings
McNeill's Champ AleMcNeill's Champ Ale

Brewed by:
McNeill's Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Champ Ale is a West Coast style pale ale. Also somewhat citrusy, it has notes of concord grapes both in the flavor and the nose. Made from a blend of British and domestic malts, it has a light red or pale rose color and very high drinkability.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-17-1998

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 61 |  Reviews: 44
Photo of alpinebryant
4.28/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy dark marigold color with a creamy white head at first that quickly turned to a few larger bubbles in the center of the glass and a ring around the glass.

A stonger citrus aroma of lemon and some grapefruit. Smell is great with a nice malty scent as well.

Tasted like a well bittered APA, there is a nice light sour bite that is enjoyable but balanced out with the bittering hops. some dry bite at the end and a lemon flavored sweet flavor as well. More grapefruit flavor in this beer than I have tasted in any other - period. The Grapefruit really comes out because this beer is not overhopped to some ridiculous IBU rating to sell bottles. As for the dragon on the label though I have not quite figured out its relevance. Maybe the dragon likes to drink Champ Ale?

Strong carbonation and a nice finish. I bought 4 bombers from a grocery store of McNeills on the way back from VT and I am beginning to think that was a great idea...

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Photo of koopa
4.27/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy watered down iced tea color (mild copper brown) with a 2 finger white crown that displays moderate retention and some lace.

Smell: English yeast, butter, toffee, slight fruity note, light hop presence.

Taste: Same as the nose but not as colorful. Might not be the freshest bottle so I'd like to revisit this one again.

Mouthfeel: Light side of medium bodied with ample crisp carbonation and a moderately soft crown.

Drinkability: Extremely drinkable.

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Photo of jsprain1
4.25/5  rDev +18.1%

Photo of Hhawk06
4.23/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one out of a 22 oz. bomber, although I don't think they sell it any other way. It poured quite attractively, that was darkish golden in color and very carbonated. The head was cloudy, largely beaded, but surprising quite sustaining. The nose was solid as well, as it displays a soft hop aroma along with a bready freshness. The drink itself was very well balanced in the mouthfeel with a straight medium body. The soft floral hops are countered exquisitely bye a crisp maltiness, almost like a cracker. The brew itself is definitely balance driven and it is very well achieved. It finishes freshly, dry, and with a bit of orangey smoothness. The remaining faint and soft hop bouquet is very elegant and impressive. Excellent.

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Photo of scottum
4.13/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bobcat in Bristol, VT.

Pours out a nice amber with a nice white head. Hops are strong here, but not uber over the top. The malts are very mellow with a touch of sweet and toasty. This beer is a well crafted pale ale with a beautiful hop flavor. Nice and drinkable with a wonderful hop bite which keeps me coming back for more.

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Photo of Brad007
4.05/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pale/light amber color with a two finger head that recedes. Aroma is nice and malty upfront with a decent hop bitterness to it. I can smell a faint hint of mint as well. Hmm. Taste starts out biscuity and malty and then fades into a mild hop bitterness that isn't too dry on the tongue.

A second sip confirms many of the things I suspected in what appears to be a well-balanced version of the American Pale Ale style. Very nice beer.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.01/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle in a trade with Vermonthiker. Thanks Tom!

My first sample from McNeill's:

It pours a hazy orange gold with a 1 finger head of foam. There's some good lacing here and the head retention is very good.

The smell is light but nice. I'm getting some fruity notes along with some caramel sweetness and some citric bitterness.

The taste is definitely fruity. I can taste some pear, some lemon, maybe some orange, a bit of malty sweetness in the background, and it finishes quite bitter and with a slight sourness. This has a real grapefruity kick at the end and like I said, it's very bitter....but nice.

It has a medium mouthfeel that's on the lower end of medium, and it's on the medium side with the carbonation. Most unusual tasting American Pale Ale because of the flavours here and because it's only 5.5%abv, it makes for a pretty darned good sessionable Ale. I see the sticker on the bottle says $3.99 for the bomber..that's an oustanding price for a very pleasurable APA indeed! Well done McNeill's and thanks again Tom!

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours copper gold with a light chill haze under a sudsy cream colored foam collar that quickly dissipates but hugs the glass all the way down.
S: Yeasty, spicy hops, malt sweetness. T: Balance leans towards the malt with caramel, light fruits seasoned with hop citrus and spice.
F: Creamy medium body and carbonation.
O: A good, easy to drink American pale Ale.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber purchased at North end Market in Brattleboro, VT.

AP: Golden hued amber, very active(good to see) nice 1" tall, foamy head, good retention, Nice legs too!

Nose: Ultra sweet hops, fruity and mildly citrusy.

Taste: A tasty, tart and slightly fruity hop taste dominates. A mild malt flavor appears then finishes with a nice leafy-hopped bite.

Mf: Medium body, feels rather thick but displayes plenty of bubbles and has a big fresh bite. The constant foamy head gives it a nice added smooth feel.

DA: Mmmm...

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Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid drinkable pale. Enough C hops to give off a citrus smell, great big creamy long-lasting head. Well malted, good with lunch. Citrus taste and aftertaste dominated. Not too bitter so was popular.Good amount of hops. Middling mouthfeel. Well done.

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Photo of hoeg0015
4/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of mikeys01
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice amber/light brown color, with a healthy white head that gradually dissipated. Aroma is very strong with citrus hops and just a bit of caramel. Taste is boldly hoppy and bitter at first, more so than expected, but then blends into a nice malty midground that carries you through to a smooth finish leaving just a hint of bitterness and floral hop flavor on the tongue. Body is quite medium. A very good American Pale ale, not an extreme example of the style, but very nicely done indeed.

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Photo of Bandi
4/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of Hibernator
3.98/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

McNeill's Champ Ale
22 oz brown bottle
Best before April notched on the side label
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

* Purchased at the Co-op in Brattleboro, VT *

Pours a light, hazy brown color with a thick head on top. Random trails of sticky lace leave patterns on the glass.

Light and fruiy nose. Hints of apples and hops.

Clean and grainy mouthfeel with a really nice hop finish. The hop presence gives way to flavors of fresh peach and Macintosh apples. The hop finish also leaves a nice bittering effect. Extremely smooth and creamy.

Yet another great beer from McNeill's brewery. Nothing over the top here, rather a straightforward and consistent session based APA.

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Photo of oberon
3.97/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass a hazed light copper color with a thinner white head atop a few chunks and floaties swirling when I got to the bottom of the bottle,nice subtle aromas some floral/citric hop along with biscuit malt a nice even mix.It sorta reminds me of an old school craft American pale ale it has a healthy dose of citrusy,resiny hop but a firm slightly caramel malt base hold up through to the finish.A solid pale its food friendly and has enough subtle complexity to keep me wanting more.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.95/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This nice APA was a hazy orange color with a thick white head that retained well. It had a citrus aroma, and an outdoorsy scent. Grapefruit taste, not much in the way of malt. A crisp beer, a little too carbonated for me, but would still drink it again.

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Photo of Billolick
3.95/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$3.99 for the bomber @ the Brattleboro, VT. Food Coop.

"Best before last day of" dating on bottom of the label, nice info for the consumer.

Pours cloudy typical amber, looser off white head that stays then goes to to a frothy foam/film and better then decent lacing.

Gritty & citric, moderatly pungent hop nose.

Respectable APA, moderate cascade infused hop package, flowing over a nice malty base. Fairly balanced, but enough hops for respectability.

Decent every day APA, perhaps a bit thin mouthfeel wise and lacks the depth of flavors to challange the all stars of the style.

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Photo of dwarbi
3.91/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Truly a beautiful ale! Frothy white head. It sticks around for a while. I think I could take this head out and play with it. Maybe mold it into my own likeness. Hazy beer. Golden amber. Smells nice, but not powerful enough. Tastes chunky. A little bitter. In your face, but with a gentle finish. Interesting mouthfeel. A bit of a bitter aftertaste. I like it. Very drinkable, this beer definitely keeps my interest.

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Photo of jlindros
3.87/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours light creamy and bubbly head. A hazy pale almost glowing wheat orange color.

N: Nose is quite nice and complex. It has some creamy malts, and a decent pale malt aroma. Hints of fruit and... grape?... and a nice hop aroma, with some grassy, chewy, and fruity hops.

T: Starts with a malty bite, some nice dark toasty malts, a really nice malt flavor actually. It then comes through with some light pale bitterness and some light grassy and spicy hop flavors. Those hop flavors are then followed with some fruity and juicy hops. More earthy malt flavors mingle. A slight citrus orange peel flavor comes through a little on the end, but isn't too bad yet.

M: Somewhat light body with good carbonation.

F: FInishes with a nice light pale bitterness that builds a bit, then adds more of the spicy hop quality and can be somewhat dry. Then it gets a somewhat unpleasant bitterness, like biting on an orange peel as that orange peel citrus flavor goes way over the top. Overall it's a nice pale ale, with some nice hop flavors, lighter fare, great malt flavors, and refreshing. The only real issue is that strong orange peel bitterness.

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Photo of erosier
3.85/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a golden orange color with a small and almost non-existent head white head that leaves little lacing down the glass.
S: Smells of sweet malts, nice floral and some citrisy hops as well.
T: Tastes like the nose - very nice sweet malty base, and then a big citrisy/floral hop flavor at the end.
M: Smooth, refreshing, but it seemed a bit raw. Nice flavors though.
D: Pretty drinkable, I enjoyed this one alot.

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Photo of marc77
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Copper hue with a light haze. Well retained ivory white, lofty, dense head leaves lace. Mellow citrus of a ripe tangerine and pink grapefruit dominates the aroma. Secondary are light caramel malt notes and a pine sap tinge as well. Understated, yet enticing aromawise. In flavor, incipient is a lightly acidic, sweetened lemon twang. It is promptly complemented by stately, orange rind bitterness and vibrant orange zest notes. Bready pale malt hints surface as the beer warms, but there is meager outright malt character overall. Vitrually bereft of yeast presence, save a trace persistent tartness. Lightly bodied, perhaps overly so, with a passably dextrinous mouthfeel. Finishes with a brief surge of hop bitterness and lingering clementine hints, which whet the palate for more. In terms of hop flavor, this is perhaps the most purely sweet orange laden APA I've had, having little of the stylistically ubiquitous grapefruit or pine notes. Well balanced and soft overall. With a more pronounced malt backbone this would be excellent. Very tasty, nonetheless, and certainly better than OJ. Thanks to Mikeys01 for the bottle!

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Photo of Durge
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the pub in Brattleboro this pale ale is a yellow-ish amber color with a thin white head but good cascading lace. The aroma is mild citrus hop with a bready, vaguely caramel idea. The taste buds pick up rye bread mixed in with the citrus bite, much like I noted in the cask ESB. There’s a nice grapefruit/lime taste that stays steady with a hempy, dusty, almost evergreen grain theme underneath it. The body is on the heavy side of light, with tasteful but delicate carbonation. Highly drinkable and a good choice for the beer lover at large.

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Photo of SaintPeter
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an explosion of head. Careful attention to detail is needed when poured as not to end up with a beer table cloth or a slick bartop. A tad over carbonated.

Pretty, fluffy off-white head. It jiggles like a fat person's belly when laughing. Silky look to it. Carbonation bubbles are flowing. Head shrinks at a medium rate and leaves an island of foam in the middle of the glass, if not disturbed. Amazing lacing, almost uniform macramé on the inside of the glass. One of the most impressive I have ever seen. The lace twinkles in the light like miniature diamonds. Wow! Hazy amber/copper color with streaks of red. Still a layer of foam hiding the beer under it's cap after a few minutes of recession with champagne-esque bubbles streaming from the bottom of the glass. Foam coats the glass fully all the way down to the last sip. Extremely impressive.

So much going on here: sour cherry, hibiscus, grape skins, sour apples, crushed pepper corns, antique furniture, Belgian yeastiness, vanilla, citrus fruits, tartness, hints of Flemish sour ale aged in oak.

Sourness initially, like a sour ale, morphing in the middle to hoppiness and then being balanced with malt. A lager perception for an instant. Finishes with green grape skin tartness and a lingering coat in the throat of warm alcohol, oatiness and hops. Resembles a sour ale mixed with a pale ale or English bitter. The mixture is rough, though.

Watery, light and soft mouthfeel. Not what I expected from the creamy head and bold fragrance. Average.

The acridness that shows it's face just as promptly disappears making it easy to drink. Could have a pint, but not more. Lots of varying flavors and amalgams: lager, ale, hops, citrus, sourness, woody, etc.

The aroma and appearance are world class, but the taste and feel of mouth are all over the place and unbalanced. With McNeill's it is a tad difficult to predict what you are going to get--A world class beer or a homebrew gone awry. This one sits on the fence.

May pair well with equally as powerful foods--blue cheeses, meats, et al.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was up in Brattleboro, Vermont the other afternoon and stopped in at McNeil's for a pint. They had this on tap but I didn't get a chance to try it. I had opted for their Ruby Ale. Before I left town though I stopped in at the Brattleboro Co-Op, which is a great place to buy beer, and picked up this bottle for only $2.99. What a great deal for some fresh, locally brewed beer!

Champ Ale's label has a picture of a jester along with "Champ" who is the creature akin to the Loch Ness Monster who is supposed to lurk in Lake Champlain.

Pours a deep, golden color with a few inches of thick bubbly white head. Its got a hazy, almost "soft" appearance.

Smells a bit citrusy, a bit sour and a bit like lemonade. There is also a sort of strange yeasty smell to it.

The taste is sort of sour at first, as soon as it hits the tongue. I was worried for a second that it might have been off. However, it appears that it is just a citrus flavor from the hops. As it warms I begin to pick up some fruit flavors and an almost Belgian saison spiciness to this beer. Lots of flavor packed into what brewery owner, Ray McNeill, simply referred to as a "pale ale" when I asked about this at the bar.

Great stuff at a fantastic price!

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Photo of akorsak
3.78/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 650 ml bomber from the Lebanon, NH Coop.

A: The APA is a pale amber color, like watered down iced tea. Translucent, the ale sits under a white head of nearly half a finger.

S: The nose is grainy, a toasted bisctui aroma that covers up any sign of hoppiness. Mild citrus wafts out after some searching.

T: Biscuity toffee flavors rule the day, a much maltier ale. Tea flavors run alongside the grains, a sweet body that covers up most of its hoppiness. What's there is citrusy and very faint. Not a malt-bomb, just one that is very focused on its own breadiness.

M: The breadiness of the APA is nice, a rich landscape of toffee and biscuit. A little more in the way of hops would really help though.

D: Another solid beer from McNeills. All the horror stories that I've hear are fading away as I sip my way through their line-up.

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McNeill's Champ Ale from McNeill's Brewery
Beer rating: 3.6 out of 5 with 61 ratings
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