Old Thumper
Shipyard Brewing Company

Old ThumperOld Thumper
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English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #238
Ranked #42,297
3.62 | pDev: 13.81%
Shipyard Brewing Company
Maine, United States
Old ThumperOld Thumper
Reviews: 392 | Ratings: 759 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, hazy, tarnished copper hue, with a finger of very light beige foam, that recedes at a moderate pace, leaving little-to-no lacing behind. Some visible effervescence continuously rising.

Nose: Really interesting malt character going on. There's a sweet, musty, slightly tangy bread dough aroma, with a really nice toasted buttered crust. There's also some light, grainy, crackery pilsner-esque malt going on. The yeast is lending both tangy sourdough notes, as well as lightly fruity notes. There's some very subtle hoppy florals in thr background, but in true English fashion, they are a gentle nuance, and it isn't fighting for the spotlight.

Palate: A clean, bready sweetness greets the palate right out of the gate. It isn't cloying or overbearing in any way, but it's an undeniable sweetness. That bread dough quickly gives way to a lighter, crisper, toasted grain foundation, that makes you think neither entirely pilsner nor pale ale. At this point, the incredibly gentle hop florals come into play, bringing faint notes of lemon, orange, and honeysuckle. The grains become increasingly toasty, and a mild bitterness appears that tastes not like it's a byproduct of hopping, but rather the charry bitterness you get from burned toast. It's a toasty bitterness. As we approach the finish, the flavour becomes buttery, just as though you've bitten into a piece of buttered toast that was just slightly over-toasted, and topped with just a little bit of honey. Finish continues on, becoming increasingly dry, and lingering with the taste of buttered wheat toast.

Mouthfeel/Body: The body of this ale caught my attention from the first sip. To match its rich buttery flavour, there is definitely some richness to the body. Slightly creamy, similarly to a hefeweizen, slightly round and soft, like a toasty beer should be, yet still retaining this incredible crispness, leaving it rich and satisfying, but still refreshing and very drinkable. It's more crisp than full, but it manages to find a spot between both, without sacrificing anything. A medium-plus effervescence lends more to the crisp drinkability of it.

Overall: Blind, I would never guess this to be from Shipyard's lineup. I've had several Shipyard offerings, and I have been disappointed by each and every one of them. This beer makes me give them some credit back. It's well crafted. How they can brew something of this quality alongside Pumpkinhead, I cannot understand, but I see absolutely no major flaws with this beer whatsoever. It isn't lifechanging in anyway, but no one drinks this type of ale expecting an epiphany. It delivers everything it's supposed to, and it does so very well. A perfectly good English Extra Special Ale.

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Photo of Stoven5
4.25/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Every visit to Maine means drinking Shipyard beers and Old Thumper is one of them. I do like the English version better but this is still up there. A beer not hidden by hops some thing you can taste and enjoy a few with out the very high alcohol content.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery. Pours copper with fluffy white head. Aroma is of caramel malt and red berries. Body is medium and smooth. Earthy hops, honey, caramel malt and red fruit fill the mouth. Finish is long and semi-dry. Average brew.

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
3.17/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a very nice caramel amber color into a pint glass with plenty of head but dissipates quickly. Very little carbonation and lacing. The smell is quite boozy and overwhelming. The initial taste is bold, boozy that leaves quickly and turns malty, nutty and slightly caramel with a bitter dry finish. This is a bold, but sometimes a little harsh brew. It mellows out a little as it warms too.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.08/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Light auburn appearance, solid 1" of head. Toffee, old wood, nuttiness, but dearth of hops.

This is very mild, not really bitter. Old Burton school. Stale toffee. Like a pumped up Newcastle with a different yeast.

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.16/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pured a brilliantly clear yellow, light amber, orange highlights. One finger loose head lasted but a minute. The beer still appears lively with the short lived head, having an ever present cap of foam that kept the brew lively looking. The brew left a little bitty lacing, but still a step up from some other shipyard products that I've had where lacing is non existent.

S - Very malt forward in aroma, some light almost pilsner malt notes with tones of biscuity overtones, just and overall sweet and very british nose, hints of caramel maybe even slight toffee. Hops are present in a subdued fashion with a spike of fuggel-ish spicey pine rounding it out.

T - This is one of the most balanced beers I've had from shipyard yet. It has the british malt flavors that dominates with a biscuity sweetness, the hops are still prevalent with earthy and spicey flavor also providing ample bitter rounding it out. The finish is where the signature shipyard yeast and its love or hate diacetyl character creeps up, but is kept well in check. I think its a much more balanced then lighter offerings such as export and chamberlain pale.

M - Mouthfeel is nondescript, just average in body and carbonation, goes down easy.

O - This is a great example of a traditional British ESB, brewed with british malt, british yeast, in traditional open fermentation, all in my home town. I've been keeping this beer in my fridge lately, and plan on continuing, this is definitely a staple for me.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.13/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Crystal clear copper body, tons of fine dispersed bubbles, blankets of lace, cool old-fashioned label.

S & T: Fruity muscat, toasted biscuit, not much hops. Flavor adds a touch of pine bitterness, just a touch. Otherwise the warm malty biscuit/slight fruitiness prevails. Well balanced. If it weren't for that bit of hops I would guess this was a well-made Belgian dubbel.

M: So. Damn. Creamy. The carbonation is so fine, it gives it a healthy zest and life but no coarseness on the tongue. Otherwise, its just that wonderful silky almost-sticky malt goodness.

O: The hop character is almost certainly diminished here (see below), but it still follows ESB guidelines to a T, and what's more, it's delicious. Deep, flavorful malts provide some sweetness while there is a bit of balancing hop bitterness. I don't understand all the low scores here, this is spot-on.

Disclaimer: This bottle is old. OLD. Review written 8/27/2015, 'best before' date is marked 9/2009. I am posting this because it is still a positive review, and if nothing else shows that this beer can age. Hop notes will probably be more apparent in a fresher bottle, take into consideration if you care (or buy a fresh one and wait til 2021 to get my experience).

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.48/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My favorite ESB, pours bright, clear copper with thin off-white head. Aromas of caramel, bread dough, and a slight metallic note that in no was is displeasing. In fact, the smell entices well into the flavor, which translates most of the nose directly. Caramel and toast on the tongue. Finishes fairly dry with a semi-sweet lingering aftertaste. Much tasty. So session!

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Photo of BrewAskew
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to an amber color and permanent off-white head. aroma is slightly butterscotch, honey, fruit esters and lots of toasted malts and a bit of earthy hops. Flavor is a balanced blend of sweet caramel malts and earthy hops. Very much an old school micro. Mouthfeel is sticky and medium light. I like this beer. It reminds me of the low-attenuated micro brew and homebrew ales I enjoyed in the mid-nineties. Glad to get a break from the pine and citrus hop war.

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Photo of jjamadorphd
4.32/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Another shipyard offer that I immensely enjoyed. Out of the bottle it has a gorgeous amber hue, with "liquid caramel" hint in the light. Its head has great staying power and plenty of lacing down the glass. The smell is what knocks my socks off - sweet and tangy with a distant scent of champagne - it all mixed well for me. The mouthfeel, however, left me wanting - to much carbonation for my taste, but it didn't ruin the overall experience. Taste-wise it was a strong bitter that wasn't too bitter - for me it was just at the right level. Overall, I was impressed, and I'm glad I still have a few to enjoy in the fridge.

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Photo of DrMullet
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden copper. Sweet malt smell with some fruit.
Taste is like it smells....sweet malt and milld fruits.
More of a scotch ale flavor really.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.1/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: [3.25] Golden to copper color. Forms very little head - just a wisp of white over the beer. Has best by notches of 02/15. Lists the ABV at 5.6%. It is very pedestrian looking.

S: [2.50] It almost has a copper scent. Something metallic in the smell. That is mostly what I am getting (this is a bottle pour to a glass - just to be sure to rule out any actual metal involved)

T: [3.50] Tastes like a scotch ale. Notes of sweet and caramel up front. Midpalate has breadiness. And the finish is sweet again with the distinct Scotch Ale flavor of caramel and candy.

M: [3.00] The carbonation is right. The mouthfeel is watery - but the beer is only 5.6% so it is not like it is a huge beer.

O: [3.00] I am excited to have a beer from Maine! This beer is okay. I wouldn't get it again - there are others in this category that are much more enjoyable. This one was lacking on the nose and a little on the mouthfeel. The taste worked ok - but still wasn't out of the park.

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Photo of bierluvre
4/5  rDev +10.5%

Beautiful color. The smell of a bitter with sweet malty undertones. Interesting choice of hops, not quite floral enough. Malt balance is perfect. Not a clean hoppy finish but a tad too bitter. Head and lacing perfect. Overall a beer its own. Very good.

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Photo of illpass78
3.42/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper with a finger-width head. Lacing moderate.

Aroma: Smells of alcohol, malts, earth, grassy hops, and a little touch of pine.

Taste: The taste is a mix of alcohol burn and some somewhat bitter hops. Decent malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: A little lighter than I expected. Medium to less-than-medium.

Overall: Pretty average beer. Not much of a "beast," like the label says, but not unpleasant.

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Photo of zeff80
2.43/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

12oz bottle. Poured out a clear, reddish color with a small, off-white head of foam. It smelled malty and a little musty. Malty with an odd bitterness.

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Photo of CTHomer
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: dark copper in color; off white head that dissipated quickly; almost no lacing;

S: toasted malt and yeast;

T: toasted malt up front; adds some sweet fruit in the med-palate along with a light bitterness in the background that builds through the finish (but never overwhelms); finish is relatively short and somewhat dry;

M: a little thin; prickly carbonation that flattens quickly when it hits your mouth;

O: well balanced; complex; enjoyable; easy to drink; would pair well with a wide variety of foods;

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Photo of tillmac62
4.01/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear amber pour with a dark ruby highlight and a massive head. Lacing and retention are exceptional. The nose is primarily biscuit with hints of sweetness and spice. Light bodied and well carbonated. The flavor profile is well balanced and complex. It begins with a nice biscuit that flows into the toffee and caramel notes. With a touch of sweetness, it transitions into the bitterness, which is an excellent example of an ESB. The finish is crisp and effervesces with a burst of caramel and well flavored bitterness.

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

Appearance: ½” off white head that recedes quickly, leaving some lacing. Color is copper with moderate carbonation bubbles.
Aroma: floral and spicy hop nose. Smell of biscuits or bread dough
Mouthfeel: medium bodied, somewhat sticky and chewy with a semi-dry finish.
Flavor: combination of breadiness, a little toffee sweetness, and earthy hop bitterness. Nicely balanced. Bread in a glass for sure.
Overall: a classic example of an English Session Pale Ale. Well done Shipyard!

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.79/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a ping glass

Appearance – The beer pours deep amber, nearly copper color, with a billowy tan colored head. The head has a moderate level of retention, fading to leave a decent level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is heaviest of a caramel and toffee smell mixed with some lightly toasted bready and malty smells. Along with these aromas are some others of an earthy and grainy nature. Rounding out the aroma profile is a little bit of oak which leads to a nice sweet and malty aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a big sweet and bready flavor with tons of toffee and caramel and a somewhat doughy taste. The doughiness transitions more to a roasted bready flavor as the flavors advance with the sweeter tastes gaining even more butteriness with much of the caramel taking on a more toffee like flavor. Some lightly burnt flavors as well as a bit of a nutty taste come to the tongue more toward the end. These are accompanied by some herbal and earthy hop flavors, which combined with the rest, as well as a little bit of an apple and stone fruit flavor, to leave a somewhat sweet and lightly roasted and hopped, but rather strong malty flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is quite thick and creamy for a brew of only 5.6 % abv. with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. Both are great for the big, sweet, and malty flavors of the brew creating a very mouth coating feel.

Overall – Quite sweet and robust in flavor for only 5.6 % abv. A rather enjoyable ESB.

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Photo of scotorum
3.74/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a plastic cup.

a: Clear amber with a finger tall white head which disspiated quickly to nada.

s: Caramel malt with slight fruit tones.

t: Caramel malt with a curious fruit undertone. Bitter ripe fruit aftertaste smoothed out later.

m: Moderate, good body.

o: A pleasant tasting brew with malt dominating but also some fruitish bitterness which early on detracts somewhat in the aftertaste. No dating info on the bottle to suggest its age. Consumed while at a hotel where drinking vessels were at a minimum and a lack of ice required the beer to be drunk rather warm, so another tasting would seem in order for a totally fair review.

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Photo of FLima
3.72/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice copper color with a thin head that keeps a constant plate and leaves some laces.
Aroma of English hops, caramel, toasted malt, tangerines and a muffled pine.
Malty flavor with bold but also balanced notes of earthy English hops, plums, toffee, nutty and toasted malts, burnt wood, caramels, perfume and some citrusy. Dry aftertaste with a long lasting bitterness.
Medium body with perfect carbonation.
Excellent ESB, flavorful, bold, bitter, fruity and well balanced. I am curious to try the UK version, and see if it is as bold as this one. But again, don’t try to compare its bitterness to ultra-hopped American beers.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Empties out a rather hazy, amber-colored beer with no more than a half-inch of unsettled off-white head.

Tea-like malts with musty grain aromas and a muddled citrus hop presence. Has an estery fruitiness of apple and plum.

Toasty and a bit perfumey. Citrus and floral hops take a backseat to a musty bitterness and partially-oxidized cereal grain. Some dry toffee, honey, apple, and treacle and a pleasant herbal character. Less delicate than I would deem appropriate for an English Pale.

Wet body with a slippery feel. Burps out dissolved carbonation that is trapped in the liquid.

Gets a little better as you start to get through it. A little better than average.

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Photo of TastyAdventure
3.69/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - light copper, 1/2 finger head, a little hazy

S- sweet toffee? Candy. undertone of sweet fruit. Non-tart berries.

T- sweet but light malt. Bready. Is that a touch of blueberries and blackberries??

Overall, I'm surprised by the strong fruitiness in this one. Too much for an ESB. But still good.

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Photo of chinchill
3.57/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle that I bought yesterday, but a few months past the 2013 BB date notched on the label. Served in a snifter.

Pours a slightly hazy amber color with modest bone-colored head that soon reduces to a partial, thin coat and a ring but leqves very good lacing. .

S: Light toast and roasted grains with browned butter.

T: Also a bit buttery but not objectionable. Solid malt base with clear presence of some spicy hops. Mildly bitter.

M: Light carbonation; medium+ body; light tongue bite.

O: Decent ESB. Flavor intensified and improved with warming.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.84/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This brew pours a red/copper color with an off white one finger head which lasts for a while. Almost no lacing and low carbonation.

The smell is sweet and roasted malts, nuts and apples and pears. Very malty.

The taste largely follows the nose with sweet malts dominating. There is also a burnt/roasted malt taste. There is also a fruit, apple/pear taste. Slightly nutty with just enough hops on the back end to keep this brew from becoming too sweet.

The mouthfeel is slightly chewy, mostly smooth. No bite or aftertaste.

Overall this is a good mix of malts, fruits and hops. With just enough hop presence to keep it from being too sweet I would not call it "Strong Bitter" but I would recommend it just the same.

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Old Thumper from Shipyard Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 759 ratings