Shipyard Prelude Special Ale | Shipyard Brewing Co.

very good
291 Reviews
Shipyard Prelude Special AleShipyard Prelude Special Ale

Brewed by:
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Maine, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by taez555 on 02-27-2001

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Reviews: 291 | Ratings: 570
Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A vast complex medal meriting winter warmer, without over-the-top ABV. Mint and clove and peppercorn and mellowed with a year of ageing. Medium mouthfeel and smooth for its style. A little roasting and hops here.Decent smooth though sparkling medium mouthfeel.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper with a 1/2 inch foamy khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Thin streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasty malt, toasted nuts, and some caramel aromas. Taste is of toasted malt and nuts, caramel, and some herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of slightly medicinal bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I like the way it smells more than the way it tastes.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

shipyard for whatever reason gets a bad rap, or at least subpar ratings here on BA. I don't know a ton about them, but their beers are never as bad as folks make them out to be. I was excited about their winter box this year, four darker stronger types. this is good, a really hoppy big amber styled beer, majorly alive in the glass with good clarity and a deep burnt orange color. smells like European hops, but dosed like an American ipa. vegetal and bitter, but also just oily enough it seems. slight tinny notes in with the biscuit malts, and a brown sugar complexion as well. the taste mirrors the nose, I am surprised by the hops, did not expect this. highly enjoyable hop bitterness running all the way through it, upheld and kept in check at the same time by the grain, which is less sweet than it smells. hints of orange peel and pepper in there, but im not sure this beer is spiced. english yeast from what i gather. boldly flavored and strong but not too strong to be sessionable. this is a great take on a winter seasonal, unique too. I still liked the imperial stout better, but this is a nice addition to the winter mix pack!

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Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that gradually died down and left thick patches of bubbles on the surface and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of butterscotch and caramel in the nose along with hints of spices.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and has sweet flavors of butterscotch, caramel and toffee along with notes of holiday spices.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied on the palate and smooth with a moderate amount of carbonation. A hint of warming from the alcohol is noticeable towards the finish.
O: This beer isn’t as complex as some of the other beers in the style, but the flavors begin to develop as the beer warms up. The alcohol is well hidden from the taste, which makes this easy to drink.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A winter seasonal from Shipyard.

I've had a handful of Shipyard beers in the past and let's just say there were far less than spectacular. Their pumpkin ale was one of the worst beers I've ever had and their others were pretty boring... but this one is above average and proved my view of this brewery to be off. It's nothing fancy here.. a nice biscuity, bready winter warmer that goes down super smooth and looks great. It has a high ABV so it really warms you up and is super drinkable... no frills and delicious.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a clear medium copper color ale with a huge foamy head with some good retention and some good lacing. Aromas of huge caramel malt are totally dominating with a nice light hoppy touch. Taste is also dominated by that huge medium-sweet caramel malt with a light hoppy finish. Full body with great carbonation and no alcohol detectable. I really like the balance between the medium sweet caramel malt light hoppy notes, really refreshing and easily drinkable.

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Photo of zeff80
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, copper/ruby color with a tan, bubbly, foamy, one-finger head. No lace.

S - It smelled very fruity. Sweet aromas with hints of caramel malt and alcohol.

T - It tasted of fruity (cherry) with touches of molasses and sweet caramel. It also had a slight alcohol flavor.

M - It was soft, smooth and chewy. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good warmer. Not spicy like most, but sweet and malty.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, best before 6/28/2015. Pours fairly crystal clear reddish brown color with a 2 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, raisin, plum, fig, light chocolate/nuttiness, herbal, floral, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malts, earthy hops, and fruity yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, raisin, plum, fig, light chocolate/nuttiness, herbal, floral, pepper, and yeast earthiness. Moderate amount of herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, raisin, plum, fig, light chocolate/nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast flavors; with a nice malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready, and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice English strong ale style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, fruity yeast flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a roasted nut brown with a tinge of burnt orange,a fliffy off white head atop.A nice mix of roasted nuts,vanilla,cinnamon,and fruitiness in the nose,well rounded malt complexity.Roasty and even a little raw earthy on the palate,very light sweetness with some vanilla and cinnamon-like qualities in the back end.I tried this a few years back and I don't recall liking it as much as I do now,its a solid well rounded winter warmer that is not overly spiced and/or sweet.

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Photo of jlindros
4.07/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a lighter 1/2 finger head that fades very slowly. It's super hazy and dark, pretty much no light coming through, with a dark hazelnut brown color.

N: Pretty complex actually. Some dark crystal malts, quite a bit of nuttiness, some dark fruits, raisin, plum, dark dried fruits, a little vanilla, a touch of spice, slight candi brown sugar with hints of booze with that (surprisingly hotter than I would expect for less than 7%), little molasses, and a slight creamy dark malt. Seems to suit a lighter winter warmer well, too bad it's spring now (my fault).

T: Hmm, starts pretty malty, with quite a bit of fruit. Some dark malts really come out, lots of crystal, a little roast, etc. Then there lots of fruit with that. Tons of raisin, fig, dates, dark dried fruits, a little juicy. Next wave is the sugars, some complex sugars with candi sugar, brown sugar, molasses, a touch of toffee. WIth all that comes a touch of boozy heat. Some spices come through with all that giving it almost a candi bar taste. It's pretty rich and nutty as well with a little vanilla.

M: Somewhat thick with decent carbonation.

F: Finishes still a little sweet, with a lingering syrupy sweetness that sticks to the mouth. A long sticky syrup that is. A little spicy booze taste washes over and leaves a little sting for a few seconds. More lingering fruit and nuts as well. A little bitterness comes out, but not sure how pleasant the bitterness is as it seems to detract more from the beer than add to it.

Overall I was surprised with this one. I am typically disappointed by Shipyard, but this one was pretty good. A really nice body, lots of complex flavors blended well and didn't go over the top. It did drink a little hot though, especially for under 7%.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.8/5  rDev +27%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A deep mahogany body with soft ruby highlights is capped by a firm light tan head that holds quite well and leaves some nice lace. When served only lightly chilled, it will maintain a solid head as it warms. The aroma is of a sweet caramel & light chocolate malt, some mild spice, and butterscotch-like diacetyl that actually adds greatly to the character! Reminiscent of a rich holiday cake! Very nice. The body is full with a very fine and restrained carbonation that leaves it exceptionally creamy and smooth - almost syrupy as the carbonation breakout foams up under the warmth of the mouth. The flavor is rich with some limited ripe fruit upfront, coat-tailed by a biscuity maltiness that's slathered at first in caramel - and later in soft milk chocolate, a mild spiciness as it crosses that palate and then a firm butterscotch, some mineral-like & leafy hoppiness and an underlying bitterness in the finish. Long, lingering and almost as rich as the flavor itself - the aftertaste is massively impressive with swirling notes of caramel, butterscotch, drying bitterness and leafy hoppiness! Do yourself a favor and enjoy this at cellar temperature as a dessert beer. Fantastic! Absolutely worth seeking out as a special treat to be enjoyed with a good book in front of the hearth.

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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle dated best before Nov. 2013.

Pours a deep clear mahogany with a small, short-lived tan head; nonetheless decent lacing was left on my snifter. Aroma is rather light and subtle but this is a flavorful ale. The nose is rather sweet with a clear note of vanilla and some fruitiness over the malts. The flavor is sweet up front, balanced in the finish, and mildly bitter in the lingering vanilla-tinted, aftertaste which suggests roasted nuts and dark bread with a trace of cinnamon. Medium-full, smooth, warming feel. Higher ABV not hidden.

O: a well-crafted winter warmer that is not overly spiced, too sweet, or boozy.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a light reddish brown color with a short but foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint overall but is very malty and contains cinnamon, nutmeg & a little chocolate along with a touch of hops.

T: The taste is bready & spicy with flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate and caramel. There’s also a very big hops bite that flavors the maltiness, which you really don’t expect because of the lack of hops in the smell. The after-taste is bready and slightly bitter.

M: Smooth & crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, very dry finish which is a bit uncharacteristic of the style.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, nice kick, not as filling as most beers in the style, I would pick this beer over most others in the style, particularly if I’m not going for the heavy sweetness that most beers in this style typically have. I wasn’t expecting a lot from this beer, but it was a little bit different and it was pretty decent.

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Photo of mactrail
2.98/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark reddish amber in the glass with a thin foam mustache. Overall impression is the sweet and bitter style, like an Old Ale. Murky and musty with a touch of the sweet vermouth flavor. Quite a bitter aftertaste. Not much aroma, maybe a touch of leather. Winey mouthfeel. Not particularly carbonated. A buttery touch.

From a 22 oz bottle. No indication of bottling date.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.41/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best Before: October 2009.

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep, garnet-hued body with a frothed, ivory-hued head.

Smell: A primarily malty nose with notes of pale malt, toasted biscuits, semi-dry caramel, and (though very lightly) chocolate. Faintly fruity. Lesser note of herbal hops.

Taste: Pale, biscuity malts with some accompanying tastes of light caramel and chocolate. Medium sweetness. Very modest hint of citrus alongside a touch of dark fruitiness. Leafy, herbaceous hops with no more than a medium-low amount of bitterness delivered. Drying finish with a light, lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: So-so. A pleasant, if somewhat simple English-minded brew for winter or whenever, really.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"Anger is a prelude to courage."

--Eric Hoffer

Georgia clay with bonfire orange highlights and a capable enough crown of golden khaki colored foam that develops deep divots as it descends. Several lonely scraps of suds are the only glass decoration.

The nose is lightly butterscotch-like (classic Ringwood yeast diacetyl) and lightly toasted bready, with more maltiness than hoppiness. Chocolate and roasted malt could not have been added with a very heavy hand. No spices are appreciated.

Prelude Special Ale is classic Shipyard in that it's buttery and tastes vaguely English. The hop bill include a Yank (Cascade), A German (Tettnang) and two Brits (Fuggles, Goldings). There's still a fair amount of hoppiness, which isn't that surprising since this past winter is still visible in the seasonal rearview mirror.

The darker malts still aren't adding much. Prelude is crystal malt-dominant and is nicely balanced in terms of sweet and bitter. The hops add an earthy-herbal-spiciness that gives the beer a winter warmer vibe without having to rely on added spices. PSA is different and interesting... and just good enough to deserve the higher of the two considered taste scores.

Too bad the mouthfeel took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. It's too thin for the style/ABV and the bubbles are both harsh and poorly buried within the liquid. There's definite work to be done here.

Prelude Special Ale, despite not being *special* beer, is one of SBC's better efforts. A better mouthfeel would not have increased the scores on either side of it, but it would have made this a more enjoyable experience. Worth a single each winter.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown color with a 1/2 finger head. Decent retention. Decent lacing.

S: Very nutty, also some dark fruits (raisins and cherries), some vanilla, and a little bit of alcohol.

T: Definitely malty, the dark fruits come to the front on the flavor profile with the raisins, also get some brown sugar and molasses. A touch of vanilla as well.

M/D: Medium bodied, but on the thicker side. Overall, pretty good. The only thing it has going against it was the presence of the alcohol. I like a little bit of heat in my winter warmers, but a little less here would have done the trick for me. Some nice flavors and a solid beer.

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Photo of russpowell
3.52/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Based on the last beer I had from these guys (their BW), I took a chance & bought a sixer of this, let's see if I'm rewarded for taking a chance...

Pours auburn with 3 fingers of tan head. Sheets of lacing & above average head retention

S: Dark fruit & caramel, some vanilla

T: Oaky notes, vanilla, caramel & leafy hops up front. Leafy & woody hops are there as this warms along with oaky dryness & some plummy notes & hazel nut, seems a bit artificial, like non-dairy creamer. Dry finish, slightly cloying sweetness with caramel, butterscotch & hazel nut, plus woody hops

MF: Light/medium bodied, firm carbonation, balance is lacking

Drinks alright, but doesn't quite pull together for me. Beer is not as good as the appearance & scent would lead me to believe. Not bad, I would drink one or two if offered, but fairly middling as winter warmers go IMO

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light translucent brown with a minimal head which quickly faed leaving behind a decent lace. Smell was candy sweet, lots of grain and malty grass hints with an overlay of candy apple. Nice well rounded smell. The taste was suprisingly hoppy and well formed. Very nice malt presence, lots of spices and a touch of bread. But the hoppy ness grabbed you in the beginning and left a nice linger. Big sweet caramel and candied flavors as well. Nice and smooth, good quality session. Overall I don't know if I would consider this really a winter beer, but it was very nice. Actually quite pleased by it and would definaly have another. Quality ale.

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Photo of smcolw
4.21/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Imagine a fresh poured Bitter from an drawn English draught. That is the Prelude. It has none of the "traditional" winter spiciness. This is solid bodied, highly hopped, darkish ale. The head and lace are particularly impressive.

I was completely surprised by this beer. I was expecting a run-of-the-road beer, but this was exceptional.

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Photo of Jason
4.4/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz brown long neck twist off with a best enjoyed before date clearly marked.

Appearance: Clear and bright dark garnet colour with a cake like head that floats on top and leaves lace all over.

Smell: Big aroma of butterscotch ... on the sweet side with hints of floral hop. There is even a touch of chocolate in the nose ... smells like ice cream drowning in butterscotch and a little hot fudge.

Taste: Silky smooth with a buttery malty mouth feel. Full bodied and rich in flavour with a biscuity and caramel malt sweetness ... there is even a hint of chocolate more towards the finish. Sizeable fresh juicy fruit falvour in the middle amonst the esters. Just enough hops to cut into the big malt character ... hop seem to linger for a bit. Residual sugar in the end with a leaf like hop flavour on the side and remnants of the buttery diacetyl.

Notes: Lots of great winter ales to come from the NE ... this one surely sits somewhere on the best of the best list.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear brown with a creme head that falls quickly to leave a thin film on the top of me brew. Nie sweet and woody kind of nose. Flavor is tangy at first. Smooths out nicely as time goes on. Nice mellow sweet tones with a malty edge that is noticed, but not the dominant feature here. Mouthfeel is a bit thicker and slick on the liquid and the carbonation is nice, but low. Overall I found this a really easy to drink winter warmer. If you are looking for a nice example of the style, I highly suggest this one. I kind of forgot about reviewing it for a while as I just enjoyed sip after sip.

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Photo of jwc215
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours mahogany with ruby highlights and a thin tan head that becomes a wisp. Some dotted lacing sticks.

The smell is of toffee, maple, roasted nuts and semi-dark fruits (black cherries?)

The taste is of toffee, maple syrup, butterscotch, with lightly roasted nuts. Ringwood yeast-strain shows way in the back. A touch of alcohol warmth and a mild minty touch show in the finish.

Full-bodied in a traditional "English" malty brew way. It has moderate carbonation.

A nice malty, sweet, but not cloying or sticky, sipper!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: the color's a darker shade of crimson, and the head, though small, is solid and rests languidly, though perseseveredly, creamy in color.
Aroma: interestingly, starts out orangey, then with my next whiff I came away with nothing but sour green apples, really sour, jolly rancher sour, and still a neat balance of sweetness.
Taste: great blitz of hops at first, that's easily contained, then overwhelmed by fantastic, delicious maltiness, that totally dominates from there on out. Rich, tasty, thoroughly fruity (cherries, and grapes, and berries, ringing through the palate), very sweet, without coming close to too-much-so, and thoroughly refreshing, with the significant alcohol content becoming more evident as we empty the glass. This is nearly an ideal winter warmer. Very approachable, constantly rewarding, and eternally delicious.
Very glad to have the chance to taste one of these, and for the honor I thank Mr. Rabidawg!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap and served in a tumbler pint, the beer is a vibrant, ruby-brown coloring with a thin, filmy, off-white head that is thin and clingy. Aromas of nut sweet and biscuit, with a strong caramel and toffee profile, also. Flavors are rich and roasty, with a boozey highlight. Toffee and tangy caramel blend with a subtle all-spice spicing. Rich, full bodied with a crisp, slightly effervescent finish and feel. Rich, slightly boozey aftertaste. Very strong, solid brew.

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Shipyard Prelude Special Ale from Shipyard Brewing Co.
3.78 out of 5 based on 570 ratings.
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