Once Upon A Time 1939 No. 1 Ale | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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31 Ratings

Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by smcolw on 03-23-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 31 |  Reviews: 10
Photo of Enriquehopnog
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of GraduatedCashew
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of jaxon53
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Infiniteingest
4.37/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Generally: In the simplest terms, I think this archaeological series that Pretty Things is doing is about as cool as it gets. OF course, they're not the only ones, but I am especially fond of the decision to do straight-up classic styles, rather than, say, the more experimental beers that DFH regularly releases.

The Pour: This beer is a beauty! Frankly, looking at it, I can't help but drink it and THAT is getting in the way of this review. It is as beautiful a beer as I have ever seen. Honey, blood, and mahogany.

Face in the glass: Exquisite malts. Toffee, caramel and Russian Black bread combine for a nose that is truly exceptional.

With Regard to Taste: I won't waste your time; this beer is delicious. One of the finest, most nuanced malts I have ever had balanced out with a very un-American subtlety of hop bitterness. It is sweet upfront, but the balancing bitter is hot on sweet's heels. Bready, rich, complex, and essentially flawless.

Epitoma: If you see it, buy it, and drink it. This is as close to perfect, stylistically, as any beer I have had this year.

Serving type: Bottle

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Photo of Sspeer1
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of paresis
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of ryan1788a5
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

A: Dark brown, cloudy. Beige head retains well at half an inch. Lacing is comprised of small spots.

S: Bread crust, nutty, hints of cocoa, fig, grape skin, earthy, sweet.

T: Crust, cocoa, nutty. Grape-like fruitiness. Stiff jab of alcohol. Earthy yeast. Somewhat sweet up front, though it dries. Alcohol gets a little hot and pushes into the finish. Drying finish of crust, nutty flavors, and alcohol.

M: Medium thick body, though it sits deceptively light on the palate. Creamy. Moderate carbonation.

O: Alcohol comes on a tad strong, but otherwise this is a fine beer. But, unless I'm imagining it I think I'm picking up on some peculiar adjuncts. Flaked maize maybe, and perhaps candi sugar? If so I would not expect to find these ingredients in a Scottish Ale. That's the beauty of the Once Upon a Time series though. These recipes are always surprising, and they reveal that 'traditional' brewing practices are perhaps not as traditional as we think.

 1,002 characters

Photo of Danno48
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of Jwale73
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz. bottle served in a tulip. Pours a dull mahogany with a frothy, three-inch, buttermilk-colored head that eventually settles into a rocky, quarter-inch cap. Swaths of lacing are revealed during the tasting and exhibit good adhesion. Nose expresses dark fruits and a suggestion of yeast. Taste consistent with nose with a distinct grapey quality to the fruit profile as with as some bubblegum notes and a medicinal bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium-light with a consistent carbonation that issues a bit of a bite towards the middle. Not my favorite from Pretty Things, but pretty spot on for the style in my opinion.

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Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrives with a tea brown color capped by an impressive head that leaves sheets of lacing behind

Smell: Caramel tones complemented by a herbacious character with peat and other earthy elements

Taste: Caramel, up front, with the herbal, peat and earthy elements arriving in the middle; caramel tones linger, underneath, through the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: The historical beers brewed by Pretty Things are always interesting and some of them really taste good - this is one of them

 535 characters

Photo of backbaybrewer
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of geocool
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of Todd
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of JakerLou
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a slightly hazed, dark, amber highlighted brown ale with a sparse, very thin surface coat of white head. Aromas of darkly sweet caramel and a hint of nut, with a sugary highlight that gives it richness instead of cloying. Flavors are just as rich as you would expect from the nose, with a deep, smooth ribbon of dark caramel providing a backbone that is highlighted by a touch of smoke and an earthy character that provides both depth and balance to the brew. Very rich, but surprisingly drinkable. There are subtle notes of alcohol throughout, but never anything that builds or overpowers. Smooth, full body that is lightened slightly by the carbonation. Roasty and rich aftertaste, with a sugary kiss, leading to a slick, slightly lingering finish. Really strong representation of the style, and possibly a good bar to use when tasting other Scottish Ales.

 911 characters

Photo of Shovelbum
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of n2185
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a dark brown with a finger of beige head that fades into a thin layer with decent lacing.

S: bubblegum and licorice dominate with candy sugar, caramel, and some dark fruit notes. There are also some hearty bread aromas.

T: similar to the aroma, lots of caramel, bubblegum, and licorice with sweet and hearty bread flavors

M: medium body and carbonation, this beer is nicely carbonated.

O: a good traditional Scotch ale. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale in Boston, MA

A: Pours a clear medium to dark brown in color with light amounts of visible carbonation and some mahogany + garnet red highlights. The beer has a half finger tall frothy beige head that reduces to a medium patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toffee, caramel, and nutty malts with a light amount of fruity yeasts.

T: Similar to the smell, this beer starts out with moderate flavors of sweet malts including notes of toffee, caramel, and nuts. There is also a light flavor of fruity yeast and just enough earthy/spicy hops to balance the beer out. Light amounts of bitterness in the finish which fades quickly.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly chewy with just a hint of dryness in the finish.

O: I really find these historical recreation beers from recipes from the past to be quite interesting and this one does not disappoint - this beer will not be for everyone as beers have changed quite a bit over the last 70+ years. Well balanced.

 1,144 characters

Photo of raythealeman
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of kaelingirl
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of trevorpost
4/5  rDev -2%

Photo of jlindros
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Again, loving the whole old recipe historical series from Pretty Things. Get to see all the old ways beer was made back in the day, with today's standards. not only that, but most of them are pretty good, so history and good beer, how can you lose!

Pours a nice looking thicker fluffy 1 finger head that has some decent sized bubbles on top, fades at a med pace with decent lacing, darker but semi clear mahogany, true ruby colored reddish brown beer, nice light streaming through but barely making it through.

Nose brings a really interesting malt combination, mostly reddish malts, a candy toffee like aroma, molasses with that as well, some amber malts with a bit of a fruitiness and nutty aroma as well, light toasted biscuit brown malts and a bit of a caramelized brown sugar malt thing. There seems to be some light fruity esters as well as a hint of a fig paste, with what seems like it wants to be a kick of booze but that never really comes, and a light nutty earthy root based malt aroma.

Taste starts with a light creaminess, a darker malt base, and U.K. style malt base. An earthy root based flavor, with a light nuttiness, a little mocha like, and light biscuit, and plenty of toasted malt flavors. Then the sweeteners, molasses, pure molasses flavor but less sweet, some candy toffee, and plenty of caramel as well, with overall mild to med sweetness. The toffee increases a bit as it goes, with more nutty flavors to go with it, and that earthy root like flavor. Yeast brings a bit of esters, with some fruity flavors but light, and a bit of a date or fig paste flavor. Surprisingly there is a bit of an alcohol flavor despite being less than 7% abv. The creamy fluffy feel cuts in with a hint of nougat and more of a candy flavor. Then hops... again a more U.K. style hop base, with an earthy grassy herbal flavor, fair bitterness, with a chewy center, but not overbearing in any sense. Finish brings a bit more bitterness and turns a bit spicy even, earthy spicy lingering hops, with a fairly dry feel, little biscuit and dark caramel malt, fermented molasses, and light root like brown malt flavor.

Mouth is med to a bit heavier bodied, nice carb.

Overall pretty good, somehow the abv feels heavier than it should be, malts are nice a good blend of brown dark malts and sweet flavors and aromas, with a decent hop character. Full flavored and lots of character and abv for what I expected for a beer that was brewed at the beginning of a big world war that saw U.K. in the middle of it and London being bombed.

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Photo of PatGreer
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of hopley
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of brureview
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a very attractive dark brown color with a 2 finger head.

Both the aroma and nose were distinctive and very different than other Scottish ales I have tasted.

The aroma was semi-fruity, and the taste was malty, with hints of fruit. I couldn't identify the fruit.

The mouth feel was mildly carbonated.

Friends who sampled the beer with me could not identify the taste profile- but we agreed it was excellent and quite different.

There was a refreshing bitterness to the finish.

Although 45-50F is suggested for serving, I would recommend 50+. The maltiness comes through, and the beer is smoother at warmer serving temperatures.

Overall, a very distinctive Scottish ale. The style is mostly lightweight, and this beer is complex, very malty, with a interesting taste profile. Another winner from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project.

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Once Upon A Time 1939 No. 1 Ale from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 31 ratings