Shipyard Prelude Special Ale | Shipyard Brewing Co.

very good
573 Ratings
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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Ratings: 573 |  Reviews: 291
Photo of CityBoy1986
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz. bottle.

The pour is a medium to dark brown with a tall tan head. Retention and lacing are decent.

The nose contains sweet berries, some toffee, alcohol and some earthy/woodsy notes. The taste is more of the same, with the toffee coming out more and adding a taste of some holiday spices. A slight bitterness arises toward the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with low carbonation. Drinkability is high--the empty bottle leaves me wanting more.

This is a very nice ale that reminds one that sometimes the wait is worth it.

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Photo of roopy40
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served into a pint glass from nitro tap

A - Dark brown with some amber red. Nice frothy head that stuck around the whole beer. Patchy lace hung around, but didn't quite stick like cooked spaghetti.

S - Smell is like blackberries and/or sweet berries drenched in liquor, slight oak smell to it as well.

T - Sweet candy malty flavor with hints of fruit and liquor on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, carbonation is light and does a little dance on the buds and palate during the finish. Smooth and very nicely balanced.

D - Very drinkable ale that I enjoyed in an English style pub. I think the surroundings made this beer all the better and I would certainly try it again. I would especially like to try it on tap or from a bottle to see how the beer differs. Great job Shipyard!

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Photo of thekevlarkid
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ok, so I once got way too drunk with this beer and a very hot girl. I won't lie, I should have had more of her and less of it. But I figured it was worth a re-visit because I did have a good time with her and it. Out of a bottle this beer was a dark chestnut color with a finger of thin khaki head. The retention was not very good but the lacing off the little collar was pretty good as thin rings. The aroma was of caramel malt, toasted malt, a touch of sourness and some light spice. The flavors were pretty good at first, toasted and sweet caramel malt with some lightly spicy notes that appeared in the middle, after this it became just a little awkward, not bad, just awkward with that touch of sourness and some bitter hops before it became more nutty. The finish was distinctly of roasted malt. The mouthfeel was just a little watery but otherwise solid, the body medium and the carbonation very good. Though a little strange I really thought this was a great example of the flavor profile one would expect from a Winter Warmer.

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Photo of joshsbeerblog
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

second time around was the charm on this one.

dark pour. defined by warming alcohol and levels of complexity. i bet this would age pretty well... maybe mellow out a little. for now, it packs a punch, so take it slow. one of my new favorites for a winter seasonal.

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Photo of bigkahunas4
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip. A chocolate to amber body emrged, with a solid finger head. Retention is nice, and the lacing is quite impressive. The aroma is quite noticeable once it's poured. Big up front sour apple, a bit of cinnamon, and raw sugar.

Flavors start quite nice, with a sweet malt - A big fruity molasses. After taste is a bit stale. Medium body, smooth.

My favorite Shipyard thus far. A nice winter.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark reddish-brown pour, beige head dissipates quickly to a swirly, frothy layer. Malty aroma, some dark fruit and tanginess there as well.

Full, caramel-malty flavor with lots of toastiness on the way down. Moderate maple sugar sweetness as well. Some hop tang on the end of the drink. No spiced or "holiday" flavor really, which is great. Some holiday beers are overdone. The Prelude is an exception, just a really good ale. Not too carbonated and buttery mouthfeel. This just became one of my favorite winter seasonals.

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Photo of selecter70
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Christmastime ales can be iffy things, too much, not enough, no relation &c. This year's Harpoon sadly is sub-par, while Shipyard's is a damn fine drinking ale. While not overtly spiced or sweetened to death, it retains a just enough particularly in the nose to remind you of Ol' St.Nick & crew. A nice dark red-brown pour sits with a orangey-beige 2 finger head that laces away like water as you drink. The aroma has a nice spiced leather malt with orange & spice hints. The flavor is milder, a smooth & clean feel in the mouth that starts with a mild hop bitter at the tip of the tongue leading to a nicely malted taste with nods towards cashew & yeast. Extraordinarily easy to we need to wait for the Christmas season each year? & where can I find it on draught..?

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Photo of Yeastcakes
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving notes: Served 50F, Hefe glass.
Aroma: slight carmel malty sweetness, but very little in terms of aroma overall.
Appearance: Clear, dark brownish-red. Quarter inch head upon pour, dissipates to thin film.
Mouthfeel: medium mouthfeel, nice light carbonation across the tongue.
Taste: Toffee and spice notes on the tip. Nice dry finish.
Drinkability: Nice winter beer. Goes down very smooth and dry finish makes it easy to have a second pint.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been in Maine for nearly a month, finally got around to trying this one, and I am glad that I did. It reminds me is some ways of Jubelale. On tap at Mainely Brews in Waterville, Maine.

Deep amber, very clear, big head (possibly overly aggressive pour) that lasts, and lacing that doesn't quit.

Banana esters (surprise! what, are they using some german wheat yeast?), nutty, sweet malty, a touch roasty.

Malty sweet, enough hops to balance. A bit spicy, fruity, nutty and roasty. somewhat boozy. Balanced and smooth. Clean finish. Nice.

Smooth feel, modest carbonation, medium body. Finished clean.

Way easy drinker. Had to pace myself to let the cold pour warm up enough to give if a fair analysis. Recommended.

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Photo of BWMKappaSig
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz 2007 Prelude in a tulip glass

Appearance: Amber brown with a sizeable off-white head that leaves significant lacing on the glass.

Smell: Lightly roasted malts and slight hints of fruit dominate the smell. Little discernable hops in the smell.

Taste: Sweet roasted malts are well balanced by a little bit of hop backbone.

Mouthfeel: Enjoyable, with a medium body.

Drinkability: Not to strong. Certainly more drinkable than some of the fuller bodied winter ales.

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Photo of NolateM
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mahogany colored beer with a dense, cream-colored head.

Very silky texture, but still decent carbonation. Malty, but not too sweet. Lots of cinnamon and nutmeg flavor, and some nicely balanced spicey hops (yes, I've decided there should be a distinction between "spicy" and "spicey"). Hint of bready yeast too.

One of the best winter ale-type beers I've had, and one of the few where the Christmasy/cinnamony flavor ACTUALLY comes through. I have to say I'm surprised who it came from... definitely by FAR the best Shipyard beer I've tried.

Around 9 or 10 bucks a six-pack.

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Photo of AMo
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shipyard Prelude pours a dark almond brown with a hint of amber. Nice initial tight compact head that later fades to a ring. Smell is on the lighter side of malts and yeast. Taste is nutty and bitter. The nut flavor from this ale is really pleasant but the bitter aftertaste takes it away which I don't care for. Mouthfeel is thin yet really smooth with a fluffy medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good drink. I didn't like the bitterness of the aftertaste but everything else was right on for an ale.

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Photo of jiggahertz
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark amber with a 1/4" head dissipating after a minute.

S: Beautiful nose on this. Orange is the most prevalent, followed by cinnamon, cloves and slight hops.

T: The hops up front surprises me, which is then followed by orange and spice. Finally finishes off with sweet malt.

M: Medium carbonation, good body. Slight alcohol taste detected, but smooth for a 6.8% beer.

D: Could definitely knock back my share of these. The hops up front was more than I suspected. Definitely softens the spice and sweetness.

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Photo of albern
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reading some of the earlier reviews of this beer, it seems that the recipe may have changed a bit. The beer has a nice mahogany amber with ruby notes. There is a smallish, slightly foamy head. The nose on the beer is slightly butterscotch, slightly roasted malts, and some undefined sweet malts as well.

For a winter warmer, the beer is surprisingly light to medium bodied with a modest carbonation. The 6.8% ABV is very well hidden. The beer is clean, crisp, with bittering hops that make the beer slightly imbalanced by the time the finish rolls around. There is a slight caramel flavor, slightly roasted malts, maybe even some charred flavors that get accentuated with the bittering hops in the finish. The beer was not terribly complex, nor overly full of character, but the butterscotch flavors typical of Shipyard were definitely present and complemented the somewhat sharp bittering hops. The mouthfeel was light and the hop bitterness lasted into the aftertaste. A good winter warmer but not a brilliant or complex one.

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

Had this one left over from a Christmas party. We were not impressed with Shipyard's IPA (where are the hops?), but this one has potential.

The beer poured with an inviting rush of carbonation and a fluffy head, which dropped soon thereafter.

The aroma is enticing. There is butterscotch, caramel, raisins, and some mustiness.

The taste begins in the center of the tongue with some up front bittering hops that then fade as the wide caramel sweep slides through. Then it strikes back with another hop smack, finishing bitter but not unappetizingly.

Mouthfeel is smooth and round with adequate carbonation.

This winter beer is solid. It doesn't have all of those annoying or clinging spices that make some of these beers taste like Thanksgiving pies.

I would recommend this one over their regular offerings.

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Photo of krisandajt
3.23/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoying another brew from's Beer of the Month Club...

Appearance: Pours a deep reddish amber color with a slight amount of head that did not hang around long. Decent lacing.

Smell: Nothing really big here, I can pick up on some malty sweetness with a slight hint of something fruity.

Taste: Little hop presence, starts off with hints of caramel and malt, finished off bitter and clean.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, flows very nicely. IMHO, this is the best part of the beer.

Drinkability: Not a bad brew, but not a style I'm a big fan of.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Received a tall one of these in a Chili's restaurant. Deep amber color with an off white/tan head that left considerable lacing. Great appearance.

Smells of toasted grain and buttery caramel.

Nice toasted malt, caramel and stone fruit sweetness, some buttery notes, and some bitter hop to even it all out. Alcohol warmth is there. Finishes nice and clean.

Medium bodied with fairly decent carbonation. Nothing distinctive.

I had a tall one, and could have easily had another. Some winter warmers taste either like pie spice or burnt bread. This is neither. Nice tasty elements that are very well balanced with the caramel sweetness and buttery elements. Not too bitter, not too sweet -- a nice comfortable sipper that also went very well with a big smoky bacon cheeseburger. I will seek this one out for a six pack. Very very decent and a very pleasant surprise. I was sitting at the bar and of all the brews on tap, this one was a constant order -- and understandably so.

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Photo of hops4me
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I liked this beer alot. I was very suprised how good it was. It is a deep red to light brown with a big fluffy brown head. Decent amount of lacing down the glass. Smells sweet. Raisins and stone fruit. Butterscotch. Floral hop nose. The taste is caramel, butterscotch, and toasted grain. Medium mouthfeel with good drinkability. This is one of the better winter warmers I have had. Highly recommend.

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Photo of JamesS
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very nice dark brown-copper color with some good inital head and almost decent lacing. Very nice strong malty scent, extremely deep with a nice head of spice (brown sugar, too, maybe?). Good flavor, very deep and earthy, a nice thick malty taste with a good undertone of spiciness, including some cinnamon perhaps, a little caramel, and a nice bit of brown sugar. It's a bit thick going down, but nothing bad or really good about the mouthfeel.

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Photo of irishtjb11
4.07/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

though being from maine, i've never been a big fan of shipyard. the prelude is different though. latley i've become real into the winter warmer style, perhaps it being the snow starting to fall. the appearance is real dark red/amber with copper accents. the smell reminds me of a scoth ale; with strong sweet accents of malt almost reminiscent of the roasted smell one finds in porters and stouts. the taste is strong with darker malts, lots of breads and butters on the tongue. no real presence of hops, but none is needed in this style. the mouthfeel is light but smooth and the alcohol really begins to warm about half way through. great beer, probably the best from shipyard that i know of.

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Photo of Goliath
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a fairly clear, dingy brown with a thin off white head on top. Poor retention and no lacing.

The aroma is pretty nice actually. A fruity bouquet with a melon component taking the lead, with a nice dose of caramel, roasted nuts, and some spices. Really pleasant.

The taste is decent. A big malt presence showing plenty of raw grain, nuts, bread, and an almost hay like quality at times. There is a slight bitterness on the finish as well. A bit of fruit and a touch of spice round out this beer.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly highly carbonated.

Drinkability is fairly high. It's a solid beer, and pretty tasty. It's mild mannered for the most part, but with some interesting flavor profiles. Not overly complex but enough to sit and enjoy by a fire.

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Photo of BWH3
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A copper still ale with some orange red high lights topped with a tan soft and full head. The head pours quite large and lasts a decent time. The beer is a touch hazy.

S: A sweet caramel, grape like fruitiness, a floral hydrangea like scent. A note of butter-scotch note as well.

T: Special B and caramel malts dominate the taste. The toasted grain provides a dry astringent bitterness. The hops are minimal. There is no spice to speak of. A nutty almond flavor is present in the aftertaste.

M: Light bodied, low gas. Above average head retention. Well masked alcohol.

D: Above average winter ale. The alcohol doesn't really warm the belly like others but it certainly is an enjoyable and sessionable seasonal beer.

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Photo of JayNH
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- A nice clear reddish copper color. Not much of a head.

S- Sweet and bready with a subtle spiciness.

T- Not overly complex. Slightly sweet, not very spicy. A subtle fruity taste.

M- Smooth with mild carbonation.

D- Very drinkable!

This brew isn't overly complex and certainly won't wow! you. I don't personally like the highly spiced winter warmers so I really enjoyed this one. Just a decent, easy drinking, "winter" beer.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is the first winter warmer of the season for me, perfect for a brisk CT night.

Holy Cow does this brew have some aggressive carbonation. I thought I was pouring this slowly, but judging by the abundant, fluffy tan head I received I may need to take my time a little more in the future. Deep amber brown body accompanies the aforementioned dense carbonation bubbles and generous head, eventually giving away to a random, but thick sticky lacing.

A rich, sweet fruity aroma flows from the glass and gives way to added hops upon further inspection.

A very deep, nutty flavor, with a pleasant and sweet (if possible?) hop presence at the finish.

The carbonation is on the abundant side, but this is a very friendly beer for the palate. Medium bodied and chewy with a friendly hop/malt balance.

It truly is a winter warmer, great flavor character, and very enjoyable on a cold night.

 890 characters

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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Shipyard Prelude Special Ale from Shipyard Brewing Co.
3.78 out of 5 based on 573 ratings.
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