Farmington River Mahogany Ale | Ipswich Ale Brewery

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Farmington River Mahogany AleFarmington River Mahogany Ale

Brewed by:
Ipswich Ale Brewery
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by UnionMade on 08-05-2002

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Ratings: 63 |  Reviews: 48
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 7/26/08. Bottle shared by fredandboboflo. Pours a deep amber with a thick tan head. Aroma of light sweet malt, flowery hops. Flavor of sweet malt, mild flowery hops, some apple, wheat cracker. Blandish but decent. ESB? I thought this was more like an amber. Ok though, 2nd best Farmington River beer.
7/4/7/3/13 (3.4/5)

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Photo of jdhilt
2.75/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a three finger cream head that faded quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Murky amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Slight hoppy nose. Flavor is sweet going to piney hops leaving a bitter aftertaste. $1.50 for a 12oz bottle from Manchester Wine and Liquors Manchester, CT. Contract brewed by Mercury Brewing.

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Photo of argock
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass stein. No freshness date.

A: Light amber hue with almost salmon-colored 1-finger head with ample lacing.

S: Sweet caramel and pale malts are met with light aromas of earthy, spicy malts and a mild grain presence.

T: Plenty of cracker flavor is cut with a bit of caramel and pale malt sweetness in the front and in the end. Earthy hops bitterness cut sharply in the finish. The is a salty, metallic note in the finish as well.

M: Medium-bodied with medium carbonation and a sweet aftertaste.

D: A very drinkable brew that was surprisingly good from an obscure MA brewery.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.05/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: snifter. pours a really nice opaque pale mahogany color. gorgeous dark khaki colored head with a typical/expected retention level. moderate lacing.

S: some apple and caramel notes from the malts, with a nice solid hoppy addition. some light citrus brought in from the hops.

T: very well-balanced. a little bittersweet, with more hops to me. I get some fruits, mostly apples, and some nutty notes, as well as a hint of butterscotch. very nice flavors from an ESB.

M: full bodied, mild carbonation level. very complex palate for the style, bitters and sweetness invigorate the tongue.

D: very nice brew, well worth getting and enjoying. would definitely drink again.

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Photo of Damian
4.15/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank on-tap at Luna Pizza, West Hartford, CT
Served in a pint glass

The beer poured a slightly hazed, deep crimson color with a one-finger, light tan head that quickly faded. Lots of sudsy, drippy lacing trickled down the glass.

The aroma was sweet and smooth. Caramel rich and toffee-like. Somewhat fruity with a noticeable powdery yeastiness.

The taste was full and balanced. Sweet with strong toffee notes up front and some noticeable diacetyl/butterscotch flavors. Fruity. Toasted malts came through in the center (along with a touch of graininess). Subtle, bittering hop notes appeared in the crisp, dry, refreshing finish.

The mouthfeel very rich, creamy and frothy. Silky smooth on the palate. Overall, quite impressive for such a seemingly "small" beer.

The Bros. say that "The key to an ESB is balance." and this one happens to be a very well balanced brew. Definitely one of the best session beers I have tried in a while.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at Village Tavern and Tap Room, Litchfield, Conn.

A: Poured a dark amber color with a one finger head of golden foam. No distinct carbonation, rather deep and inviting.

S: Smells sweet and nutty the way a brown would, but bitter too, with a noticeable hop in the nose.

T: Tastes bittersweet, but more malty than hoppy. It's certainly a balanced brew, with some fruit and nut thrown in the mix.

M: Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied and enjoyable. There's a nice substance to this brew.

D: The ABV won't rock your world, and neither will the taste. However, it's a very well-balanced ESB and accompanied by burger pretty well.

Overall, not a bad selection. I like what Farmington River has shown and this ESB is a promising call to sample more of their brews. Recommended.

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Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An amber and a decent white head with some malt and hops aroma. Fresh, good bitterness and medium mouthfeel and appropriately carbonated. Clean taste, well-balanced, just fairly run-of-the-mill. A bit fruity which is nice, and a tad lemon. A bit better than average beer.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Farmington River Mahogany Ale pours a hazy dark amber color with a small, creamy tan head on top. The foam fades quickly to a ring around the surface of the beer leaving no lace behind. A malty aroma with notes of caramel, nuts, and brown sugar hovers over the beer.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is soft on the palate with an effervescent fizz on the tip of the tongue. The flavor is malty with caramel malt dominating. Mixed in are flavors of nuts and brown sugar. Towards the end a mild floral bitterness moves in to help balance out all the malt. Once gone some of the sweet caramel malt flavor lingers on the palate.

This is an easy drinking malty flavored beer, however it's a little thin in the mouthfeel and could use a bit more aroma.

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Photo of Durge
4.02/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A nice dark coca-cola color with a modest tan head, good lace. Looks a little watery despite the dark color. Aroma of honey-nut with a bit of vanilla and malt. Very nice full bodied feel on first taste, a bit smokey with a little orange and charcoal at the back. Well carbonated to keep it lively throughout yet smooth. Very drinkable. A little more malt flavor as it warms, very nice. I would agree that the ESB label seems misplaced a bit, more in line with the brown ale flavor. Bitter was not the highlight of this beer but certainly flavorful. I would buy this again.

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Photo of WesWes
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a hazy amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a mild pale and crystal malt aroma along with an equally mild hop aroma. It's got some fruity yeast esters as well. The taste is average. It has a very bitter hop bite that really hits you in the beginning. The malts are there, but they're too light to add anough balance. It seems a bit watery. It goes down easy and finishes with another hop blast. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an interesting brew. I know it's supposed to really bitter, hence the Extra Special Bitter, but I think it needs a bit more balance. That being said, it drinks decent and grows on you.

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Photo of jjayjaye
3.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear burnt orange amber color with a full finger off white head that fades to surface and is kept alive by the visible effervescence. A good amount of lacing observed.

The smell is really timid yet malty; not sure if this one is oxidized but a bit of cardboard detected.

Medium bodied, the mouth feel has a creamy texture. Nicely balanced, it complements the flavor nicely. Finishes with an extra pop of flavor with the swallow.

Contrary to my previous experiences, this one has a lot of flavor. It tastes somewhat like a toasted grain. Maybe a dialed down sesame. Little bit of after taste.

Not a huge fan of the style, but this one is better than most.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice slightly hazed ruby-esque colour with a mid-sized, creamy off-white head that has good retention and also leaves a nice amount of residue on the glass after each sip.

The aroma is a bit fruity from some dark berry notes, along with a bit of rough earthiness from the malt.

Flavour is essentially more of the same, with fruit sweetness still here but cut in by a bit more hop presence (minimal but more so present than it being virtually non-noticeable in the aroma) as well as some burnt wood and bread notes as well. Well balanced, but a bit faint overall. Mouthfeel is nice and light to medium bodied with some creaminess and a bit of slickness to it.

This wasn't bad overall. Could use a bit more kick to it but there's still a decent amount of flavour that's well balanced and makes for a fairly easy drinking beer.

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Photo of jwc215
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours mahogany with a one-finger tan head that soon becomes a lasting, thin cover.

The smell is sweet - slightly roasted carmelized graininess with an underlying earthy nuttiness and slight fruitiness.

The taste follows the aroma. Sweet, slightly roasted carmelized, grainy malt. Bitter, earthy, nutty notes balance out the sweetness nicely. There is a lemony fruity undertone that complements it well. Finishes bitter with a sweet support.

Medium to full bodied. Creamy.

A nicely-balanced, smooth, tasty ESB.

Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for bringing this back from New England - It's a nice one!

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Photo of BuckSpin
3.43/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 11oz bottle in a classic conical pint glass

Wonderful toasted nose, crackers, yeast, earthy malt, a little muddy, some rocks. As it warms and blooms sweet caramel & brown sugar rise as the malts lose that earthiness to soft spiciness and even a wisp of alcohol. The nose deepens the longer it warms, eventually opening up to some whispering pine and traces of orange pekoe. Poured beautifully to 2 thin fingers of thick, sculpted, tight, sticky ivory foam that crackled sporadically, fading to a 1/8" carpet of the same that laced thickly in splotches. A beautiful, rosy amber tea in color, crystal clear & clean, nary a bubble.

Very pleasing, even & well balanced up front on the tongue. Its semi-sweet with slightly burnt caramel and mild, lightly bitter hops, smooth, malty but not over the top....earthy to be exact. Its very easy to drink, and is going down fast without problem. It gets a little buttery (I swear I tasted popcorn!), very even on the palate, a little too thin for me. Its starting to water down & thin out with mouth warmth, still some caramel & malt qualities are there but hiding. Unfortunately, it finishes chalky, slated, dry, bittersweet, leaving the aforementioned qualities as an aftertaste...shame.

Its too bad it got so thin on the palate and finished like a chalkboard. Up to then it was quite nice. That said, it would be interesting to try this again with a good sandwich (I'm thinking something on a rye or pumpernickel, like a club or Reuben) to fill in the blank spots. Its a shame it went downhill so fast. Put some meat on the palate taste and get rid of that chalky aftertaste and it would be a very good ESB. As it is, unless I had something to go with it (even a nice white cheddar) I would most likely pass in the future.

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Photo of Stimack
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brew poured to a brown cloudy color with a slight tan head that broke down quickly bur left some lacing at the top of the brew. To me malt dominates the nose giving it a biscuit like scent. The taste is quite good; malt dominates once again giving off flavors of nuts and caramel. At the tail end I pick up a slight hop taste but it seems to be their in an instance and then gone the next. Not a bad brew, all four varieties that where included in the sampler pack where quite good and next time I am in CT I will probably look for them again.

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Photo of Bierman9
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle during early afternoon of Thanksgiving day, pre-turkey.

Pours mostly clear, though there is some residue left in the bottle bottom. Color is, duh, mahogany, and a lovely hue it is! Has a creamy, thin, finely-bubbled head which lasts well, though little lace is left. Aroma has nice toasty malt notes, with some nuttiness present as well. Nice!! Body is medium, and the effect on the tongue is mostly smooth, though with a light bit of a foamy, bubbly feel.

Flavor comes in with malt, being lightly sweet with caramel and a nutty character once more. Sweetness last well into the finish, where some floral hoppage and light bitterness come into play.
I was somewaht leary going into this one, as it had been fridged for a bit, and I don't know how old it was before I received it (thnx to Venom for that!). But, all in all, it was quite tasty, and a good start to the Holiday festivities.


overall: 4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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Photo of NEhophead
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle; no best before date.

Cloudy, light maple with shades of auburn. Light, creamy white head that quickly recedes to a broken sheet. Little to no lacing.

Toasted caramel malts with hints of cream and mild coffee. Hazlenut, light nutmeg, and brown sugar. Mild aromatics.

Toasted biscuit flavor with a spicy coffee bean accent. Hints of vanilla and brown sugar prior to a peppery, floral hop bite. Dry in the finish with an aftertaste of toasted almonds and a light yeasty must.

Medium in body; phenolic with a touch of powder. Dry, and coats the palate properly.

A decent Bitter with flashes of nice flavor. A bit too mild in spots, but a decent offering.

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Photo of RedChrome
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pour was a mostly medium chestnut brown color with subtle but notable red tones. There was a small head with a nice light brown note. Head retention was minimal, but it is possibly the result of a less the perfect pour due to a hiccup.

I took a large whiff of this beer and was intrigued by the almost oak scents that were hidden within the malt aroma.

The flavor popped right when it hit my mouth and had a slight bitter flavor, but was balanced well with the malt or the beer. This beer had a good flavor that I say most closely tastes like almonds.

The mouthfeel of the beer was fantastic, with a smoothness I only though I would find in Guinness. Not as much carbonation as I prefer in a beer, but for the style it was as near to perfect as I have tasted.

This is the type of beer I could enjoy with a very rich meal such as a veal osso buco. I don't think I could drink this on a nightly basis, but if you like your beer a little darker, this may be the perfect choice for you.

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Photo of geexploitation
3.04/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I gotta say, I don't agree with characterizing this as an ESB. Not nearly bitter enough, not nearly enough hop character for that appellation. Hiss!

Anyway, this beer pours a nice mahogany color (no surprise there) with some ruby highlights showing through. Nice head, good head retention. Nose is full of grain notes, a bit of dustiness and, strangely, some creamy characters. Not much hops, though, thus part of my problem with calling this an ESB. Flavor is full of grain bitterness, with only a slight hop flavor. It seems to me that most of the bitterness here is from the malt, not the hops. Mouthfeel is creamy and sumptuous wit ha bitter bite and a grainy aftertaste. Overall I enjoyed this beer. I'd classify it as an American Brown Ale... then I would say it's true to the style and deserving of high marks But, that said, if you insist on calling your beer an ESB, you get graded partly for adherence to style... so that's pushing my scores down quite a bit.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a dark reddish color with a smallish head with nice lacing. The smell is very malty with a small amount of hops.The taste is the same as the smell which makes this a nice tasting beer.The malt helps mellow the bitter hop aftertaste.The m/f is light and balanced between bitter hops and mellow malt.This isn't a bad brew and I'd have it again.

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

appearance: The pour into my imperial pint glass creates a .3" off white head that recedes until there are only a few small carbonation "islands" remaining. The beer is a very slightly cloudy light copper color.

smell: Nice balance of light sweet malt and hops going on. Hints of tropical fruits and a slight nuttiness.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is right between low and medium, and the body a lighter medium. The low carbonation lends a smoothness to the mouthfeel.

taste: Again a pretty good balance of malt and hops. The hop bitterness remains at a moderate level throughout the sip and finish. Not much hop flavor, but the bitterness level is just right. The malt lends some caramel flavor.

drinkability: good flavors, but some of its characteristics would limit me to a couple

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Photo of packetknife
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper? Aged-tanished non-electronics copper perhaps. I'd call it more burned amber with lighter highlights through the glass. A thin a frothy off-white head that faded pretty quickly and left no evidence. Malts, decent hop, some citrus and a noticeable and character changing smoke/smokey taste on the tongue. Each sip, each time I've had it, gives me a slightely different sense which makes it a favorite re-visit beer now. It's availability on-tap dissapoints me but such is life. The carbonation kept it feeling thicker than it might have been and the acidity on the finish made it feel more substantial too. I don't know the ABV but it isn't enough to keep you from wanted thirds.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.38/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12ozer bottle bought as a single from Villa Spirit Shoppe, Storrs, CT.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" light beige head over the orangey-copper (not mahogany) brew. Head is pillowy and lasts well, with heavy foam lacing. Aroma is balanced with yeasty, biscuity malts, and solid citrusy hops. Taste is well balanced with a sneaky yet potent hops character offsetting the apparent grain bill. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both great as well. I could see revisiting this one, again and again and again...

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.03/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was an amber brew with a huge head that left a low of lacing on my 22 oz. pilsner glass.

The aroma was of LOTS of orange and hops. Very powerful.

The taste was quite bitter, and there was some caramel in there. This was followed by some darker malts, then a hint of roasted malt in a lingering bitter finish.

A very good beer indeed. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Photo of necoadam
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Eli Cannon's

Maybe it's just me, but I found this beer to be a bit strange. Color was a dark coppper with a little bit of head but it lasted most of the way through. Smell consisted of malts, nuts, caramel, butterscotch with a little bit of roasted flavoring, wow, everything but the kitchen sink in this one. Taste a little odd. Had all the right combos for being an ESB, but it seemed like the fruits just stood out too much in this beer. Malts, toffee, etc., all those flavors were there, but towwards the end the fruit came in and just took over everything. Tone that part down a little and we've got a great ESB.

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Farmington River Mahogany Ale from Ipswich Ale Brewery
3.64 out of 5 based on 63 ratings.
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