Monticello Reserve Ale
Starr Hill Brewery

Monticello Reserve AleMonticello Reserve Ale
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Wheat Beer - American Pale
Ranked #499
Ranked #46,151
3.45 | pDev: 14.2%
Starr Hill Brewery
Virginia, United States
Monticello Reserve AleMonticello Reserve Ale
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 91 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of oberon
oberon from North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think of Hillary Clinton hmmm....nevermind sorry.Pours into a large tulip glass a light lemon color with a bone white head atop.Mainly toasted grain on the nose with some tart lemon.Flavors are lightly tart with a bit of butteriness,toasted grain in the aftertaste.It's ok and I know something mind blowing isn't gonna be sold at the Monticello gift shop but TH was a brewer,take a recipe from him and sell it.

Oct 14, 2015
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Starr Hill "Monticello Reserve Ale"
25.4 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, no freshness dating
$12.95 @ Monticello

Based on the brightness of the aromas and flavors I'm tasting, this beer is clearly still being brewed (although currently listed as "retired" on BA).

It pours a hazy light straw-gold body beneath a finger-thick head of bright white foam that holds fairly well before dropping to an average collar and whispy surface covering. Broken sheets of lace are left behind, branching out into wide splashes and smaller patches of tiny spots - quite nice!

The aroma is quite surprising. It displays a herbal and floral character that goes well beyond the wheat, corn, and East Kent Goldings that supposedly make it up, including notes of lemon, crushed granite, coriander seed, mint, grass, lavender, and spice. Perhaps it's coming from the yeast? Or perhaps not.

The flavor follows suit but without any real lemon (it's not tart), and with the addition of some more mineralish, earthy, and leafy character. The wheat is clear, and along with the grassy spiciness (very much like coriander seed) it's almost like rye. A firm bitterness lies beneath it, and it finishes dry and spicy/grassy/woody with a touch of crushed granite and some earthy, wet and trodden leaves.

I'm wondering if Starr Hill has changed the recipe since they first brewed this in 2011 as it's really a fairly complex beer, despite the fact that it initially appears as a delicate, basically light, golden wheat ale.

I'm not sure what I paid for this (although I'm sure it was at a premium as it came from the gift shop at Monticello), but I'd gladly buy it again at even $20 per bottle. Charming and unique!

Jan 07, 2015
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Redrock from Virginia

3.98/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L - Pours a light straw in color, with a thin head.

S - Pleasant lemon zest and citrus nose, slight notes of wheat, mild spices and herbal hops.

T - Easy drinking wheat brew. Bready, Citrusy lemon. At times reminds me of a farmhouse with the earthiness. What makes it unique is the sweetness from corn. Definitely has a nice crisp finish.

F- Medium to light carbonation, crisp and clean

O - At first glance this seemed like just another wheat brew, but given its large format I was able to see it open up and it got better as it warmed. If you served this too cold I can see why some would say it was just okay. Glad I was patient with it and I definitely enjoyed this quite a bit.

Jan 03, 2015
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Jadjunk from Georgia

3.37/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

"Beer produced on the Monticello plantation was served during dinner, with wine served after the meal. From her first arrival at Monticello in 1772, Jefferson's wife Martha oversaw the periodic brewing operations, producing fifteen gallon casks of small beer- beer with low alcohol content- about every two weeks. Larger scale brewing began with the appearance of a British brewer detained in Albemarle County during the War of 1812. Captain Joseph Miller improved upon the quality and quantity of Monticello beer, introducing ale, stronger better suited to storage. Joseph Miller trained the enslaved Peter Hemings in the arts of malting and brewing. Hemings- a brother of Sally- carried on the brewing operations, making one hundred gallongs of ale every spring and fall. Jefferson wrote in 1821 that he had 'no receipt for brewing,' doubting 'if the operation of malting and brewing could be successfully performed from a receipt.'" Brewed in the style of an American Pale Wheat Ale. Brewed as a one-time release in 2011, available in 750 ml. bottles and limited draft.

Poured from a 750ml bottle to a snifter. Served above 49 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a crisp, frothy ecru-white head over a mildly hazy golden amber body. Retention is above average and lacing is light and spotty. 3.5

(Smell) Soured wheat and pale malt up front with a spicy and effervescent yeast profile. Somewhat vinous, certainly unusual. Potency is medium. 3.25

(Taste) The flavor melds musty wheat malt with a light pale malt profile. Sweetness is very low but off characters are surprisingly limited. Very light, easy to drink with a dank white grape and lemony finish and a moderate acidity. Finishes somewhat clean with a slightly skunky must. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Texture is oily slick, very lightly chewy, medium dry. Carbonation generates a medium frothiness for a silky crisp mouthfeel. Body is light/medium for the style, light+ overall. Balance is musty, dank over sweet and bitter. Alcohol presence is low. The age of this beer almost certainly contributes to a bit of funk, sourness and acidity, but little oxidation nor infection otherwise is detectible. 3.25

(Overall) This is probably what an easy drinking American Pale Wheat Ale would have tasted like in the early 1800's, especially with quality control issues that were prevalent before the time of refrigeration. It's held up surprisingly well, still very easy to drink and fairly enjoyable, but no doubt past its prime. 3.25

Starr Hill Brewery's
Monticello Reserve Ale

Nov 12, 2014
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Sarmiento from West Virginia

3.42/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap down at the brewery and while I'll admit may be a bit biased due to the history behind this beer was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the brew.

A: A nice crisp golden blond nothing that will stand out and resonate in the mind but a nice amber with a bit of haze in it.

S: This is where the beer began to show some of its interesting characteristics in my mind. The smell was very "skunky" with some notes we commonly associate with our big wheat beers. The smell caught me and friend off guard as it was very similar to a farmhouse ale in terms just a bit lighter and not nearly as potent.

T: Amazing...Beer was very similar to drinking just a great lager yet with flavor. Taste for me personally was like mixing a farmhouse ale/saison and pale wheat. None of the notes were as strong as they are in a brew that is strictly saison or pale wheat but all the notes commonly found were there giving the drinker a fairly unique experience.

M: Very sharp, bitter with a bite. While it was smooth there was a lingering bit of sharpness left in the mouth as if you had just stuck ice in your mouth giving you a bit of a bite. Not the best mouthfeel i've experienced but still nice.

In all its a beer I would recommend to customers at my store but would let them know it will not be the greatest but is easily an above average brew. This combined with the history of the beer make it a great experience I would recommend to anyone looking to try something different and unique.

Jan 04, 2014
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mentor from Colorado

3.65/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thin layer of sticky off-white head over a slightly cloudy light straw colored liquid. Looks like a cloudy American Premium Lager, but the head is more sticky. Smells mild overall. Lemon and sweet-tart, wheat and earthy. Oranges from hops and a woody character like English hops.

Tastes crisp, with a zing a a lemony tartness. The crisp comes across like a czech pils, spicy noble hop, though not quite the tin-like flavor associated with Saaz hops. The lemony sharp is not sour like I'd expect from a lacto ferment, though there may have been a short sour mash. Flavors are metallic, lemon, drying woody, herbal, rye bite. Cottony and woody in the mouth. Not much wheat character to this one.

Light in the mouth with heavy sharp carbonation. This strikes me as a summer quencher.

Nov 21, 2013
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.58/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Interesting little beer. Reminded me of Yards Tavern Ale in Jefferson origin and pale, golden-ish color only. This was a much different brew. Yellow-gold and fairly clear, with a curiously fleeting head (considering the touting of its wheat-ness), it had a snappy, almost ginger and lemon zest zip to it. Fairly light-bodied and I felt it was a fortunate choice to compliment the flavors of and cut through the greasiness of the plumped-up, American-style Banh Mi I ordered with it. It did the job well, despite packing more burpy, nearly soda-pop carbonation than I would've liked.

On a side note - I loved how the tap handle had a drawing of Monticello on it, yet they felt the need to affix a beefed-up, Monopoly-style, 3D model of Monticello atop the handle - just odd, yet highly amusing to me...

Mar 12, 2013
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jibjib513 from Ohio

3.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type: 750ml bottle to pint glass(es).

Appearance (4.0): Pale clear golden, with white head and solid carbonation.

Smell (4.0): A sour lemony smell, perhaps with a hint of wheat.

Taste (4.0): Taste like a hefe-weizen, though without the banana like flavor (and as I understand, this is correct for an American Pale Wheat Ale).

Mouthfeel (3.0): Perhaps. a little too "creamy".

Overall (3.5): I wanted to love this beer, I love Jefferson. I know it would be difficult to accurately state what the beer was like that Jefferson was brewing, but I'm not sure how much thought and research went in to this one. They need to get Dogfish Head on the case! This one though, it's OK but I feel like it's a tourist attraction trap (hey, it got me!).

Nov 03, 2012
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kylehay2004 from Illinois

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

Enjoyed at the brewery.

A: single finger bright foamy head with nice lacing on a clear straw/golden body.

S: wheat, butter, lemon but overall a light aroma.

T: wheat and breads up front blurred transition to lemon and strong buttery presence.

M: light to medium body and moderate to high carbonation. Very creamy and oily. Clean.

Overall: a little too buttery for me. Drinkable with the flavors a bit bland and poorly imagined.

Jul 26, 2012
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Bierman9 from New Hampshire

3.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This 750ml bottle was a gift from old "bro" Artied2. No freshness dating and/or bottling info found on the bottle.

Poured about 2/3s of the container into a nonic pint glass. It is a pale golden color, clear throughout, with very little carbo or head to be found. Aroma has tart, sourish notes, along with some crisp wheaty qualities. Given the paucity of carbo, the smoothness is not surprising, but it is a touch thinner than medium.

The flavor has some wheat right off, dry and crisp. Citrus shows up, with light rindiness and hints of green apple. The sweetness, attributed by the brewer to the corn in the recipe, seems more honeyish to me. Was a little put-off at the start, but this is growing on me the more I drink, albeit by small increments. Not bad, but I reckon the palate 200 years ago was a bit less discerning and selective. Prosit!!!

3.3/5 rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Jul 08, 2012
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zaphodchak from Virginia

3.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was months after trying the first batch that saw bottling, which to be fair, was pretty bad. I heard rumors that it had improved.

Half a finger of white head. The body is a hazy light straw with decent lace.

Nose ks kinda lame. A bit corn-y, kinda macro-brewery-ish, and semi acrid. It's an adjunct beer by nature though, so maybe to be expected.

Some German-ish hops present in the taste, lightly sweetish wheat character. Much better than the first batch. Slightly herbal, almost rosemary. Well balanced sweetness and slightly vegetal/savory.

The feel was average if a bit too bright.

A definite improvement, less macro-y, more balance and interest.

Apr 30, 2012
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maxwellboh from Virginia

3.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Living in Charlottesville I am partial to TJ's home brew. Since its first availability I have shared a bottle (750ml) almost every month with someone. Yes the appearance is exactly the appearance of an adjunct pale ale, straw color, minimal lacing and lots of carbonation. The smell is of rising wheat bread with a touch of coriander. And you can envision TJ brewing this in the kitchen below the house at Monticello. The taste is summertime but drinkable year round. Lemon, floral, orange all come to mind. With a mouthfeel of smooth crisp carbonation this is a beer that is only disappointing when the bottle is empty.

Feb 18, 2012
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hopfacebrew from Colorado

3.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received an undated 750mL bottle of this as an extra in a trade :)

Poured from bottle to NBB globe. The beer pours a translucent amber orange with a thin 1/2 finger white head. Not much lacing or retention. Aroma of toasty malts, light lemon/orange, and a touch of citrus hops. The flavor is very much the same though the tart lemon is more prevalent. Very unique flavor profile with sweet yet toasty barley, light bitterness, soft sweetness on the finish. Massively carbonated. Overall, the idea of this brew is really pretty awesome staying close to Jefferson's recipe. It was a pleasure to try. I wouldn't say I would drink much of it again, though it was quite a treat.

Jan 22, 2012
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TechTriumph from Virginia

3.68/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes on 12/04/11:
No freshness date; Poured in a pint glass.

A - Just under one inch of white and creamy head; Darker shade of yellow/straw color; Pretty clear appearance with visible carbonation; Minimal lacing

S - Not too strong of a smell here; Notes of fresh baked bread, cloves, wheat, corn, and a touch of spice

T - Light wheat, corn, cloves, lemon peel, and subtle floral characteristics as well; Light corn and lemon linger a bit in the aftertaste

M - Good carbonation; Light bodied; Smooth and crisp mouthfeel

O - I have to say that this beer turned out pretty well having been brewed from Thomas Jefferson's recipe notes. There is nothing that really stands out in the flavor, though the addition of lemon peel is a nice touch. It's very smooth and drinkable, and would be a nice Spring/Summer beer to pair with southern fried food.

Jan 01, 2012
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rootbeerman from Virginia

3.67/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours clear initially but a hefeweizen like swirl of the bottle turns this into a cloudy yellow beer. With a finger or so of white, lightly frothy head. Head does lace in large chunks.
S: a slight yeast spice with very obvious wheat and light corn.
T: mostly a light citrus with wheat malt and corn.
M: not thick, but not thin either. OK carbonation
O: I do like historic beer recipes regardless of the ingredients used.

Dec 04, 2011
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billab914 from Virginia

3.4/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured a pale golden color with a modest, frothy white head covering the top. The head faded rather quickly.

The aroma has a lot of pale, grainy malts and corn to it. I get some crisp, slightly fruity, grape like flavors to it as well as some some tart, zesty lemon. Decent aroma for the style.

The taste shows zesty lemon, crisp fruits, pale grainy malts and some bready wheat flavors to it. It's pretty light, crisp and easy drinking.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Overall it was a decent beer, but didn't really stand out in any category for me.

Dec 04, 2011
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CuriousMonk from District of Columbia

3.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bomber into tulip glass. Pours a clear golden orange. Aroma of standard grain, malt, toast, light lemon/orange, and a touch of citrus hops which is the same as the flavor suggests but more tarty lemon in the taste. Big carbonation, sweet and grainy. Light grainy bitterness, soft sweetness on the finish. Quite disappointed with this brew, but I read somewhere that the brewery tried to keep close and true to the recipe as if came straight out of Jefferson’s cellar. Gave a half point overall to the brewery for trying to keep the receipe true to the past as much as possible yet attempt to cater to today's more refined palates as well as a craft brew lover's expectations.

Nov 22, 2011
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Zraly from Virginia

3.25/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours pale gold with a two finger, white head. Subtle notes of grain and wheat husk.

Predominate note is wheat with a touch corn. Interesting finish with a toasted coconut and marshmallow flavor. Hints of citrus along with the wheat note. Hops are hidden and if a bit more present, this ale would be much more balanced and the powdery finish would be rounded out. Fairly light-bodied, easy to drink.

Interesting coming from notes kept by Thomas Jefferson. I'd highly recommend this as a session ale (if fresh and on tap) with some good southern BBQ.

Nov 04, 2011
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jgreenearrow from Virginia

2.96/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a golden light tan color with a thick white head forming at the top of the pour. Some lacing remains on the sides of the glass.

S: The nose consists of grain and corn. Some slight caramel notes are present as well.

T: The beer is somewhat sweet at the onset of the sip. The sweetness of wheat and corn carries through the middle where it is met by some slight hoppiness in the finish. There is a bit of an unpleasant adjunct corn aftertaste that lingers after the sip.

M: This is a light to slightly medium bodied beer. It is easy to drink and well carbonated.

Overall, this is a decent beer. It has a bit of an adjunct beer quality to it due to it being brewed with corn. But, Jefferson's recipe, that is being recreated, called for the use of corn. It is not a beer that I would seek out to drink again, but it is worth trying to get a taste of what one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. drank as an everyday table beer.

Sep 24, 2011
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jdhilt from New Hampshire

3.05/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a five+ finger off-white head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Hazy amber color. Good carbonation and light-medium bodied. Light lemon wheat nose and flavor is tart lemon and wheat with a dry tart finish. Not worth $12.95 for a 750ml bottle from Monticello Gift Shop Charlottesville, VA.

Sep 23, 2011
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AgentMunky from New York

3.91/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a rocks glass at Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville. From notes. Reviewed 2 July 2011.

A: Huge head with great retention. Cloudy straw-yellow. Quite light-coloured.

S: Adjunct grain. Corn? There's no barley in this beer, only wheat and corn (if I recall correctly). Not impressive, but nice enough.

T/M: Really nice! Smooth and pleasing. Round and almost sweet, but with a perfectly understated carbonation to lighten and balance the body of the beer. Great with food; a good 'table beer'.

O: Very drinkable! Interesting and recommendable. Would have again.

Sep 08, 2011
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depechemode1983 from Texas

3.54/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a slightly cloudy golden wheat color. Head is white, frothy and very thick with excellent retention. Lacing is minimal and randomly sectioned.

S - Soft delicate nose. Some soft wheat. Candy surgar and sweet milk with distant floral hops. Actually fairly complex when you dig deep.

T - Sweet and lots of caramel flavors. Just a mild hop bitterness coupled with some maple syrup flavors. Finish is mostly clean with a slight bitter finish.

M - Medium bodied. Soft and with mild carbonation.

O - I dig it. Nothing special but not a bad beer. Happy to give it a shot.

Aug 02, 2011
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mralphabet from Virginia

3.83/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml poured into pint glass

A: Poured golden orange in color and cloudy. About 1 1/2 fingers worth of white foamy head.. nice lacing all the way down the glass.

S: Strange mix of wheat with a little citrus, yeast, malt and a hint of hops. Little Wit little Pale Ale... Smells pretty good.

T: Just like the smell.... Everything I love about wheat beer and pale ales is here in the taste.. Notes of wheat, citrus, a mild earthiness, followed by slight hoppyness. Finish is clean and smooth.

M: The beer is light but smooth. Good carbonation it fits this style very nicely.

D: Very drinkable beer here.... Starr Hill has produced a great beer based on a Thomas Jefferson recipe.... So you get an idea of beer from another time... Could be a great session beer, but I think this maybe a limited run.. Next time I'm in Charlottesville I will grabbing another one of these. Another good beer from the fine folks at Starr Hill.

Jul 03, 2011
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Rhettroactive from Pennsylvania

3.7/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 750mL bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/22/11
*From notes

This bottle was purchased at the Monticello gift shop where from what I understand, is the only place you can get it.

A: It looks like a pale Martzen. Slightly hazy, though it does appear to be at least somewhat filtered. A good pour yields a big, 2.5 finger pale white head and quality lacing.

S: Molasses and honey, with heavy yeasty wheat and lemony acid.

T: Extreme amounts of clarified butter. A heavy dose of liquid smoke and lemon scone. Hardly a trace of hops. This is a different brew to be sure, as I can't even begin to think of another beer to compare it to.

M: Oily as hell, though it really does suit the beer well.

O: Such a unique, "old timey" brew. Starr Hill's Monticello Reserve is incomparable and unclassifiable. It's also one of the best beers that Starr Hill has ever produced. If you're visiting Charlottesville, be sure to stop by Monticello and pick up a bottle, as it's absolutely worth quaffing this piece of brewing history.

Jun 17, 2011
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Pharkle from Virginia

3.23/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a recreation of Thomas Jefferson's beer; a modern interpretation of a historical artifact. As such, it must be considered in a different light. This would have been served at Monticello as an everyday, common drink - nothing fancy. As such, it lives up to this description.

The corn and wheat produce a superlight dry beer with very lttle malt flavor. The sparse Kent hops balance what little sugar remains. This is more akin to a dry sparkling white table wine. Pleasantly refreshing, it would have been a welcome drink in the Virginia summertime.

Not bad, for what it is. I thank the people st Starr Hill for sticking their necks out on this one.

May 17, 2011
Monticello Reserve Ale from Starr Hill Brewery
Beer rating: 79 out of 100 with 91 ratings