Harlem Sugar Hill Ale | Harlem Brewing Company

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Harlem Sugar Hill AleHarlem Sugar Hill Ale

Brewed by:
Harlem Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Blonde Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.09%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-31-2002

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Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 104
Photo of david18
3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got a bottle of this at Artisinal Cheese Restaurant in New York City. Not the best blond ale i've had. Had a deep orange color with a smallish head. Not a great or distinct aroma. Really a very run of the mill beer. I guess this is a new brewery so i'll keep an eye on them and see what else they come up with in the future.

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Photo of Lexluthor33
3.8/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours Golden with a small head and lace.
The aroma was subtle and it was pretty much hops,malts and some fruit hints.
The taste was simple. Mildly sweet,malty,hops and some fruity notes.
The feel was light,easy to drink with some mild bitterness and medium carbonation. The balance was very good and the finish was very clean with some grains.

Notes: Just my opinion,but I do not see this beer as "ghetto" or hip hop. I think of Harlem and I think Jazz,trumpets and fancy night clubs. At least that was the image Harlem had. Now,I suppose it is a lot different and constantly changing.I just do not think a decent beer such as this really needs any added images or personalities.Summer time brew and decent to stand on it's own.

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Photo of garcia2a
3.15/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy golden color, very light carbonation with an almost non-existent head.

The bouquet has sweet malts and grains that predominate the nose. I'm not getting much of anything else. This translates well to the taste as I am getting quite a bit of sweet malts with just a hint of acidity. This ascerbic bite tends to form the bulk of the aftertaste.

The body is medium, a bit heavier than I expected. Kinda reminded me of a few Belgiam golden ales in terms of the body. Overall, quite drinkable, should be good for the summer.

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Photo of Brianmerrilyn
3.73/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into mini heffe glass at Spring 08 Long Island Craft brew festival by a employee of the company, name that escapes me.

A: A surprising cloudy amber gold but a dissapointing neglible head.

S: Tin ca with sublte sweet finsih

T: Comlex tartness that retreats before the aftertaste.

M: Tangy thinness, difficult to grasp at.

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Photo of PEBKAC
3.52/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My local finally got some sixers in, as I'd been waiting to try it for a bit now.

"Taste the Music"

Props for the jazzy labeling. Maybe they can get Spike Lee & Wesley Snipes to endorse it in true "Mo Betta" character. Maybe Denzel can make a cameo. Snipes really needs the money I heard. :P

Now this stuff really twinkles the ivory! Crazy carbonation & a genuine golden shimmer. A half inch of ethereal eggshell-colored head that recedes on schedule.

Smell is half-way caramelized malt & an uncertain trust in cold steel.

Initial taste is cream, but it drops right into a total caramel base, a single slice of buttered toast, with semi-grassy addition to the mix for the finish.

Grainy, but the alcohol is smooth. Slightly thicker then it appears. Carbonation is lower then expected, which is the only big fault I could find. The name "Sugar Hill" is not an understatement.

I took out half the six in 25 minutes. :o

"Cause mo better makes it mo better." :)

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.4/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clouded amber gold. No head. Nose is a fairly firm metallic with a bit of sugar peeking about as well. Flavor is bitter with a lemon citrus edge. Sweet as well, but just a faint touch. Metallic is the word here as that is the most dominant feature. Feel is nice on the bubble and a bit thicker on the liquid. Overall though the metallic flavors that are there kind of detract I think. I can't say it is anything exciting worth trying.

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Photo of dgthompson
4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had this at a beer festival. Loved it and loved the woman who created the beer - she was very nice and the ONLY person out of about 60 breweries to actually come out from behind the table and talk to the people. My friend and I spoke to her for a good 5 minutes, very interesting - but, I fell in love with the beer even before she spoke to us. Hard to find by me, but I go out of my way to buy a couple of 6 packs every few months. Excellent head, look and taste. Find it and try it!

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Photo of sbe1
3.6/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

NOTE: The Harlem Brewing Company's beers are contract brewed by the Olde Saratoga Brewing Company (makers of the wonderful Red Tail Ale).

Ordered a bottle of this at the Iridium Jazz Club in Manhattan.

Appearance: Pours a nice gold color with no head.

Smell: Clean and hoppy.

Taste: Again, clean and hoppy with a touch of lemon, clean finish.

Mouthfeel: A little nip from the hops to tickle your tounge with a vaguely creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Pretty good. Not the best thing I've ever had, but a nice very drinkable beer.

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Photo of alexwag
3.36/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Always like to try a local beer, and this was a new one on me ...

A: Poured a slightly darker than Bud crisp copper with less than one finger of fizzy, quickly dissipating head. Slightly cloudy, not unlike today's hot and humid weather so looks refreshing.

S: Not much to speak off. Crisp and clean, but again, not unlike a macro, though with some welcome added hop snap.

T: Sings a note smooth and sharp, with some yeasty tartness and a little lemon zest.

M: Fizziness on the tongue with a nice creaminess (not too much) -- nice mix.

D: Nice for a summer day -- the yeastiness/touch of metal becomes drags a bit as you go through, but overall nice. Not a go-to but might buy again for consistent refreshment.

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Photo of Rudgers73
3.67/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a very malty beer. Sweet, malty, and a little dry at the end. The smell is almost like a buttery oak aroma. The mouthfeel is very creamy and it leaves a warming coat in your mouth. Not bad for $5 a 6'er. Tastes more like a $2 beer to me.


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Photo of plaid75
3.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a medium straw hugh with a one finger foamy white head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured a nice clean grain with a smattering of floral hops.

The taste was also a clean grain with a bit of a peppery hop spiciness. Very nice doughy finish. Stronger than usual sweetness for a golden ale.

The mouthfeel was clean and crisp.

Overall an enjoyable light ale. Very good session material.

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Photo of Billolick
3.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, I picked up at the Brewtopia festival to sample. Pours medium straw, cloudy, white, moderate head and leaves respectable lacing. Moderate nose of mostly just abit of malt. This is a fairly light bodied brew, sweetness upfront and apparant, middle section is nondescript and it finishes with just a wiff of drying and grainy hops. Middle of the road quaffer. Worth a try to support this Harlem NYC, brewery , but will not be of much more interest for most BAs.

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Photo of Suds
3.45/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Jazz age motif on the label, with an explanation that the beer is a variation on an African (?) recipe.
A hazy, straw colored liquid from a 12 ounce bottle yields a slight, webby head. The aroma is a mix of grain and yeast. Very faint hoppiness in the smell, well in the background. Overall muted and quiet aromas.
The taste is sweet, with a clean, distinct hop balance. It's well proportioned and finishes as a very refreshing and drinkable beer. Moderately high carbonation.
It's not outstanding, but still very good.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.06/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 ounce brown glass bottle with neck, obverse and reverse labels that all are all coordinated with a yellow-golden background color. The main label has a saxophone behind a large drum which in turn has a keyboard running across the front with the words ‘Sugar Hill’ formed from the ebony keys set against the ivory ones. Has the words ‘Sugar Hill Golden Ale’, and “Taste the Music” on the front label. No strength or freshness date listed.

The reverse label offers some background to the brew. Allegedly from a centuries-old African recipe, it is named after a swinging Harlem neighborhood made famous by musicians in the 1930’s.

Appearance: Has a lovely, ever so slightly hazed, fantastic looking orange golden body. The head is thick and rich, and readily forms a white blanket that is regular and uniform in appearance. Solid levels of carbonation, and excellent head longevity. Nice presentation, it looks extremely thirst quenching on a warm summers Sunday afternoon.

Nose: Sweet malts and not much else that I could discern to be honest. Serve well chilled thanks to a psychotic Fridge, even when it warmed the aroma was of sweet malts but a light hoppiness did develop after a while.

Taste: Sweet grainy malt bill to start with, had a light grain texture that is a tad cloying when set against the sweet malts. The middle though, is refreshing as the bitterness builds in the back end. Lingering bitterness on the tongue and in the sides of the mouth.

Mouthfeel: Average body in feel, bolstered by the initial grainy feel (whether you like it or not) and the nice bitter finish, all interspersed with a dashing sweet malt feel from time to time.

Drinkability: It took me a while to get used to this, but after a few mouthfuls, and after I knew what to expect, it wasn’t all bad. I am not too big on sweetness, just my personal trait, and I found that the sweetish malts and grainy malt texture were a little too much after a while. The lingering bitterness was nice though. For me this beer was much better at the end, as opposed to the beginning, if that doesn’t sound stupid.

Overall: A decent enough brew, but a tad too sweet in the long term for me to be honest. Not bad for a hot summers afternoon though.

A Big Musical Thanks to McCall for sending this rare one over!

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Photo of oberon
3.48/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer comes from a centuries old African recipe...uh huh.Anyways found this brew for $3.99 at the local health food store and gave it a try,pours a nice golden color with a head that starts out nice but fades really quickly.I get a slight toasted malt aroma but not much more in the aroma.A malt accented brew biscuity and lightly fruity finishing pretty crisp and clean.This beer was much better than expected,not great by any means but for $3.99 cant beat it good brew for the hot and humid weather down here.

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Photo of Chsyhkr
2.53/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Fruit Cocktail?

A very sweet beer, a cross between Helles and Blond Ale which the sweetness of Helles and the fruitiness of an ale.

Pours a dark straw color into a glass with a wispy white head that does linger a while.

A sweet fruity aroma, see my first comment, follows into a sugary flavor with indistinguishable hop flavor.

Not a bad beer but not good either...

Someone sent it down to NC where we met the brewer, a nice but not very knowledgable person of brewing. Marketing perhaps.

Contract brewed somewhere for some market, black jazz clubs in NYC, perhaps...maybe rap clubs, "hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, SAY WHAT!"

Save your money...

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not sure how this made it down to City Beverage in Winston-Salem, but whatever. Pours a lightly hazy pale gold color with a medium thin bone white head. Lightly effervescent. The aroma is somewhat hoppy and a little metallic. Light-bodied and rather crisp with equal parts hops and sweet malt. The finish is on the bitter side. Overall this beer is barely above average and nothing memorable.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.45/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, if your girl starts actin' up, then you take her friend"
- Rapper's Delight, Sugar Hill Gang

Got to try a bit of this at the World Beer Festival in Durham last night. I met the founder of the brewery, who said it is currently being contract-brewed by someone upstate. Nice golden color, light floral aroma like a golden ale or high-class American lager. Very sweet, lightly malty palate. I was actually surprised at how sweet this beer is (I guess the name is pretty apt). Not really anything new, but a pleasant beer that would be good for a session on a warm day.

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Photo of UnionMade
2.61/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Ehhhh... I don't know what I was expecting, but i guess the whole Harlem/Sugar Hill thing gave me some higher expectations. I immediately thought of the Sugar Hill Gang and their timeless classic "Rappers Delight" when i saw this beer. In fact, i got it for my old school rap loving friend. I didn't get to give it to him quick enough and i drank it.
Beer is a pale, slightly hazy amber gold, with a clean pure white head. I have to say this was an attractive looking beer.
Things started to go wrong with the nose, which smelled almost exactly like a lager, something in the Helles style. I was kind of expecting something a little more estery, I guess.
Flavor is almost identical to a Helles, with a characteristic lagery flavor and aroma. Maybe it's the hops they used. Who knows. There's a touch of light fruitiness, but altogether, i didn't really enjoy this. My general feeling is that it's a regular american lager, with perhaps a little more body and a touch more hops. Not bad at all, but not what i was expecting or come to associate with a golden ale. Just kind of weak and uninspired. Definitely something to try for a gateway beer.

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Photo of Loki
3.75/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is a great example of a lighter style beer. Would be great for a ball game, picknick, or park outing.

Clear Golden color, with a decent head. Light aroma, mainly malt with very subtle hints of citrus.

Clean, crisp taste of with a little malt for sweetness and trace amounts of hops. Average mouth feel with nothing exciting or different.

Great drinkability, especialy on those hotter days. Overall all an enjoyable beer from a small brewery. I can't wait to see what Celeste at Harlem Brewing Company comes out with next.

(Side note if you are looking for this in the Piedmont of NC the only places I have found it was City Beverage and GSO Wine Warehouse.)

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Photo of Thrasher
4.13/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brilliant gold with impressive, rich head. Appealing aroma with whiffs of sweet malt and light hops. This delicate beer is like Budweiser with balls. Mostly sweet, with a very light bitterness from the hops that follows through in the finish. The malts have a sugary quality, with some corn flavors - but still very appealing; some faint lemon traces. Easy to drink, just a damn good all-around beer. Reminiscent of Czech pilsners while remaining in ale territory. Probably a great summer brew but it's December now and I'm digging it just fine. I'd imagine anyone who likes beer (whether it be Busch Light or Samichlaus) would enjoy this. Here's hoping to hear (and taste) more good things from this new kid on the block.

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Photo of AaronRed
3.48/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was excited to try this new beer, as I often look for lighter beers in the summer- especially for people who come over who are not used to richer more flavorful beers. This is nice beer for summer. Light and clear, the head stayed well, with some lace down the side. Not much of a smell, except for some sweetness. My first sip was not the best. As I drank this beer, I liked it more. There is a hop presence, and although this beer is lighter, it does not weaken. What bitterness there is makes this beer very drinkable. Malt and sweetness balance it out. Not a great beer, at least for me, but one that I would drink on a hot summer day.

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Harlem Sugar Hill Ale from Harlem Brewing Company
3.32 out of 5 based on 104 ratings.
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