Backfin Pale Ale | Clay Pipe Brewing Company

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Backfin Pale AleBackfin Pale Ale
49 Ratings
Backfin Pale AleBackfin Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Clay Pipe Brewing Company
Maryland, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DarthMalt on 06-24-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 49 |  Reviews: 47
Photo of ralree
2.68/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Brownish red, pretty clear. Head is good, but short-lived. Lacing not too great.

S: Really brown-sugary. Hops smell different than most pale ale. A slight smell of fruit in the background. Not anything special.

T: Bitter, grainy, non-fruity, and really metallic. Bread flavor after swallowing. Not enough lasting hop flavor - the hops are barely detectable over the grain flavor. The malt in this doesn't taste very good. I'm not a fan.

M: Far too carbonated. Medium-light bodied. Slightly watery.

D: Not too great. I don't think I'll finish it. It has all the flavor characteristics I don't like in pale ale, and none of the ones I do.

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Photo of jackorain
2.7/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Amber color, crystal clear. 1/4 inch head fell quickly and left only thin coat and small ring, no lace.

Smells of caramel malt and slight citrus hop. Smells quite sweet.

Tastes of caramel malt and slight citrus hops in the middle followed by more malt. Odd sour ending. There is also a cooked vegtable flavor that comes and goes

Light in body and too fizzy

I really don't want anymore, this beer is not that good.

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Photo of KFaulkner
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer didn't really do it for me, although I am happy to support a regional brewery.

It poured a color typical of the style with very little head and almost no retention. The beer tastes a little flat, somewhat sweet, somewhat hoppy and has a slightly bitter aftertaste.

The big red crab is nice though and convinced me to try it in the first place. Overall, nothing special here.

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Photo of csmiley
2.83/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours light copper in color. A rough pour gave up a little over a half inch of head. Retention was average. Lacing was good.

S - Smell is mainly a blend of caramel and citrus hops. Could be some piney hops in there too. There is not much going on in the aroma department.

T - Taste is very close to smell. The two flavors that jump out are caramel and citrus hops. The background does have some other flavors such as bread and alcohol. Bland is the word that comes to mind.

M - Medium bodied with good carbonation. Finish is a little sweet.

D - Drinkability is average. It goes down easy enough but it is just too bland to seek out and have again.

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Photo of morimech
2.93/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear amber color with two inches of white head that had good retention. The head settles to a thick cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass. The malt dominates the aroma with hints of mint and citrus from the hops. Almost has a toasted character as well. Has a bit of a weird flavor. It could be some DMS giving some cook vegatable flavor. The malt that seems appealling in the aroma totally disappears in the flavor. Some bitterness and citrus flavor from the hops. Not very well put together. The body is good for an APA but nothing special. I would probably pass on this beer in the future. Comes off as not well crafted.

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Photo of AleWatcher
2.95/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

beer #2 in the Blind Beers BIF-- thanks to Neorunner!

Poured into a pint glass-- reviewed from notes.

This pours a deep coppery color almost showing some brown hues. More brown than amber, but still in the copper family. It has a 1 and half finger of real tight head with great retention. I guessed IPA at this point.

Smell has very little hops. I only get a slight floral hop presence... this leads me to think it is an English IPA, or perhaps an English Pale Ale... This is certainly not a big hoppy monster. Some sweet malts, but nothing to get carried away over. I'm narrowing it down to an EPA at this point. ADDED NOTE: towards the end of the glass I start to get a pleasant citrus note in here.

Taste follows nose-- some sweet nondescript malts and a slight floral and citrus hop bite. Very little bitterness.

The mouthfeel is a little over medium-- medium-well, if you will. Good carbonation level with a slight oily/resiny feel to it.

Drinkability isn't bad-- but the flavor isn't really impressing me.
--- reveals what the beer is---
OK. So it is an APA? hmmm. These East Coast pales don't seem to be as hoppy as the midwest/west coast. I wonder if that is due to the historical ties to England? Their pales are American versions that are modeled after the English ones just enough to not be solid examples of the American style?
as an English Pale, it would score-- 3.5/3.5/3.5/2.5/3

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Photo of Toocls2h8
2.96/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

I had this at on tap at a Baltimore pub a few blocks from my work. I swear you could add a couple drops of red food coloring to Miller Lite and end up with the same product as Backfin. Now, as far as cheap college beers go, I rather like Miller Lite, but I expected more from a locally produced Micro.

Color is red, looks good. Approx. 1" thick off-white head that left moderate lacing. Taste is very grainy like corn or buscuit, much like Miller, only with a slight hint of hops at the end. The mouthfeel is thin, however, this does make it a good thirst-quencher when eating crabs. But if it came down to it, and it were between Backfin or Miller at restaurant, though the Backfin is better, I'd save myself the cost of a "premium" beer and get the Miller.

Not a bad beer, but not very good either. Unremarkable.

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Photo of marburg
2.98/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Smells like malt. Another whiff reveals Saltines sprayed with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Uh oh.

Dry, cracker-like malt is the dominant flavor. Bits of lemon bread. Mostly, there's nothing -- very bland and watery. Thin body to say the least. I think this may be a bit old, though I can't tell for certain. There's undeniably a mild tart and buttery flavor lurking in this beer.

Not really worth thinking about.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Slightly hazy amber color. Small whitish head. Rather bland aroma-some hops, slight metallic odor. Blend of malt and hops-nothing stands out all that well. Some slight floral flavors to it. Lingering sweetness. Ok body. Rather average overall. I could see buying it at a decent price for a party with a non craft beer drinking crowd. Good to wash some crabs down with. Wouldnt go out of my way for it though.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.03/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Rob for leaving this for me after our last tasting. I think he has a BA handle I just don't know what it is.

Poured a 12oz bottle into my New Belgium globe. This beer pours a deep copper with a small 1 inch head that disappeared into nothingness leaving no lacing as the head disappeared. The aroma is mildly hoppy with a nice sweet caramel malt background. The flavor is pretty much the same. I wish this beer had more of a hop presence to it. The caramel malt really drowns out any hop flavor. Also there is a subtle bitterness to it. The mouthfeel is light and decently carbonated. This beer is just alright. Something to drink if the beer selection at a bar isn't too hot.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.06/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ripe tangerine with an infusion of liquid copper. Backfin Pale Ale is darker than most APAs, which tells me (the website confirms it) that caramel malt is in use. The pale orange cap is a looker. It has a rumpled texture and is currently slathering the glass with lace from the top edge downward.

The nose is lightly buttery with no hint of toast and is no more than mildly hoppy. The stated hop bill deals in generalities rather than specifics... 'American, English and Czech hops'. Too bad that more of them weren't used.

Backfin is incredibly tame. I can't imagine that it would stand up to something as mild as crab meat unless it was in a nicely spicy crab cake. No, better to drink this one solo. Even then, don't expect your taste buds to get much of a workout.

The malt portion of the flavor profile is a classic pale-caramel mix that tastes like iced tea with a few drops of added butter. Hop bitterness easily counters the shortage of malt sweetness and hop flavor is still a near no-show. There might be a earthy, faintly fruity vibe if I really concentrate. This is okay beer, I guess, but the needle on my 'wow meter' hasn't even quivered.

The mouthfeel falls in line with all the rest. In other words, it's light (maybe light-medium for the style) and is unexciting. A few more bubbles might help, it's hard to say.

I hope the other Clay Pipe offerings that I have waiting in the wings have more going for them than Backfin. There's nothing much wrong with it, but then there's nothing much right with it either.

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Photo of BeerisfoodLLC
3.08/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had a few pints of this on tap:

A - Coppery reddish hue, very clear, not cloudy. Thinish head.

S - Pungeant aroma, hoppy citrusy tones

T - Hoppy taste, pretty typical pale ale. Not overwhelming. I bit of a lingering aftertase.

M - Goes down well, smooth not too carbonated.

D - I think I had 6 or so in one sitting so I would say it is drinkable although nothing too special.

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Photo of Hefe
3.1/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tasted on 2/14/04

Appearance: Amber colour with an off white head.

Smell: Fairly nondescript, little bit of a citrus hop thing going on.

Taste: A little muddled, a noticeable hop bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel: A bit agressive, the carbonation is a touch too evident.

Drinkability: This beers saving grace is that it goes down very easily.

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Photo of deereless
3.1/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: A copper to pink grapefruit color, half a pencil thickness of relatively dense head - 3.75, S: Quite bready aroma, a touch of bubblegum, a little herbal smell - 3.50, T: Somewhat grainy, noticeable hop bitterness, not a lot happening on the palate - 2.75, M: Unusual mouthfeel that comes across as oily - 2.75, D: A very standard APA, nothing to necessarily seek out but certainly drinkable - 3.00

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Photo of argock
3.11/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

A: Nice-looking peach hue with 1-2 finger off-white head with great stick and lots of lace.

S: Pretty mild/weak all the way around with faint caramel and pale malt aromas with slight earthy hops odors.

T: Taste is also muted with somewhat sweet caramel malts with underwhelming hops flavor that mainly adds bitterness without much of the alpha-acid sharpness.

M: Fairly slick and coating with mild but pleasant bitter aftertaste.

D: Clay Pipe has better beers out there (i.e. Hop-ocalypse), although this one is fine to enjoy at a BBQ, but is not really a serious contender.

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Photo of Risser09
3.15/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter - fridge - 2009

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy copper brown/orange with a 1/2" creamy, yellow head. Not much retention, but there is some stringy lace remaining. Not much carbonation activity.

Smell: Earthy, nutty malt aroma with very little hops. Fresh split cherry wood, cereal grain and caramel malt.

Taste: A basic malt and hop combination that doesn't have many hop attributes. Pinchy bitterness is earthy, slight and lingering. The pale malt is heavier than expected, and doesn't have too much sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, nicely carbonated, a touch of bitterness, and a wet finish. The bitterness goes down into the belly.

Drinkability: A decent beer that isn't very much of a pale ale. It needs a better, stronger hop profile to offset the malts. Worth a try.

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Photo of Mardukk
3.16/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a typical APA copper color with quickly dissipating white head.

Smells of caramel malt and a bit of citrus hops.

The taste is quite unusual. There is the typical APA citrus hop taste however it is dominated by a butterscotch/bready malt taste that just seems off. A lingering sour aftertaste continues.

The mouthfeel is medium and a little syrupy in the finish.

I suppose the drinkability is ok if you can ignore a few off tasting characteristics.

Overall, not a very well made APA...I'll pass in the future.

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Photo of Rootdog316
3.3/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear gold with a medium white head. A light malty/grainy aroma with some faint piney hops. Light to medium body and carbonation, and a clean mouthfeel. Balanced light maltiness and soft hop bitterness result in a refreshing, but somewhat understated APA.

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Photo of squirrelpirate
3.3/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clay Pipe Backfin Pale Ale poured a slightly cloudy, light copper color, with a very small head that barely got to half an inch tall. The aroma is a nice balance of citrusy hops and a bready malt note.

I was surprised at the maltiness of the beer. There is a nutty, bready taste that pushes through that beginning, with hops emerging in the middle and lingering at the end. I found the aftertaste unpleasant, with what I found to be an astringent bitterness rather than hops.

The mouthfeel is very nice, it's a medium body with light carbonation, and is a drinkable beer, but I don't think I'll be picking up any more of this.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A slightly hazy deep honey-amber. Head is almost inexistant, and even with an aggressive pour, is very short and drops to all but nothing in no time.

S: Winning back a little bit of love with the scent of herbal/floral hoppiness and a nice malty backbone Some perfumy scents - but more of a soap-perfume aroma rather than that of chemical perfume.

T: A bit of a citrusy, herbal taste of hops. A lighter malt toasting.

M + D: A sharper carbonation, though perhaps a bit watered down. Drinkable enough, though not one I could see myself actively seeking out.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.35/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ok, but not excellent - it's distressingly thin on the finish.

Pours a pretty hazy golden with a nice head, though it falls away too quickly. The aroma has a sweet, malty character, but with a slightly sour edge to it as it warms. The flavor is malty, with a decent floral hop finish, but the who effect is a bit watery. The mouthfeel is watery and slight.

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Photo of DarthMalt
3.36/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

"Holy crustacean, Batman! There's a huge fucking crab on this beer!"

Obviously, this beer was designed for Marylanders.

Typical, contract-brewed micro. Nice amber color. Good pour. Good head. Nose gives rise to a mysterious burnt-rye flavor, which I'm trying desperately to recall from another beer--I'm guessing an English Rye I had recently which has hit the States lately [update: It's those stankin' 60 Min. IPA hops.].

All-in-all, solidly above the median.

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Photo of Brent
3.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pretty run-of-the-mill pale ale. Mildly malty nondescript hops aroma. A little thin in body, glides across the tongue without making a big impression. Slightly grainy malt, a touch sweet, followed by a hops bittering that did not hang on as it passed through. Yet another beer that is fine with a meal as a background beverage, but nothing to commend it otherwise.

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Photo of tone77
3.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a caramel color with a small head. Smell is mild, hops and malts. Taste is good, well balanced hops and malts. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this makes for a good quality beer.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.43/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice clear amber color, with a fairly strong light tan head. Sticky lacing abounds on my pint glass as the head slowly fades. Some lazy bubbles make their way up from the bottom of the glass.

Pine-scented hops surround an earthy-good maltiness, together promising only good things to come. Taste is of rugged yet subtle piney hops. I love adjectives. Really, this is on the low end for hop flavor in an APA, but it's got good flavor nonetheless. Some caramel and malt notes fritter away in the background. Good balance but all on the low end. I want more bang.

It's got good body and a good smooth feel with a slight carbonation burn at the end. I could drink a sixer no problem, which is probably not what you are looking for in your APA.

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Backfin Pale Ale from Clay Pipe Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.48 out of 5 with 49 ratings