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 brentk56
3.76/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Nothing like the appearance of a cask ale - cloudy apricot with a pillowy head; great retention and sheets of lace

Smell: Tangerine citrus

Taste: Tangerine fruit up front, with a stone fruit roundness; joined by a bit of malt after the swallow, but the citrus flavor dominates and then is gone in a flash

Mouthfeel: Medium to full creamy body with soft carbonation

Drinkability: A very nice cask beer with a disappointingly brief finish

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Photo of jlindros
3.8/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired while visiting a friend down in MD.

A: A decent 1 finger head forms as it pours. A pretty clear pale amber orange color reveals small bubbles rising to refresh a slowly fading head.

N: Crisp pale ale like aromas, very clean crisp ale aromas to start. A slight hop bitterness strikes, but very lightly. It has a slight fresh hop aroma, but mostly grassy and slightly earthy.

T: Taste starts with a slight earthy bitter hop flavor. Somewhat fresh hop taste that was probably a lot stronger before. It's fairly pale which is pretty nice. Some crisp amber ale flavors round the edges, but not much. A slight fruity hop and yeast combination adds to it. Some crystal malt flavors give a slight backbone, but still pretty light.

M: Medium body with decent carbonation.

F: FInishes pretty bitter, a clean bitter with touches of earthy hop flavor. A pretty good bitterness but still somewhat bland. A slight grassy and fruity flavor develops more after the swallow. It's not as clean finishing as I thought it would be. A cascade or amarillo like hop flavor seems to stick around once everything else finally fades. Pretty refreshing and drinkable actually.

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Photo of smcolw
3.55/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours with a thin head that leaves very light lace on the glass. The color is polished copper. There is a slight chill haze.

For a pale ale, this is a malty aroma with nearly no hop present.

When tasting, my first thought is this is a classic "amber" ale. It's malty but still dry. The hop is present but light. Astringent aftertaste. Nice full body with moderate carbonation.

This is a decent pale ale particularly on Maryland's eastern shore where good beer seems to be lacking (with the exception of this one and Dogfish Brewery).

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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 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 RBorsato
4.28/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice clear solid gold color with a nice creamy light beige head that lasts. Nice slow carbonation. Nice balanced malt and hop (English-dirty and American-light citrus) aroma and flavor. Medium bodied and smooth with a nicely balanced finish.

A nice American/English hybrid APA.

Per CP website: OG: 12.0 B (1.048 s.g.)
Alcohol: 5.5 % v/v
Color: Amber (~8.0 SRM)
Ingredients: 2-Row Malted Barley, 20ºL Caramel Malt, 60ºL Caramel Malt, American, English & Czech Hops

'6330' lasered on the bottom
Tasted: 06/16/07

($1.79 / 12 oz.)

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Photo of ppoitras
3.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of the Poitras/VA 2004 vacation.

Enjoyed on tap at Hard Rock Cafe, Baltimore, MD.

Presented in a take-home 22oz Hard Rock pilsner glass. Off-white 1/2" head, which had reasonable retention and laced well, over a copper brew. Somewhat generic pale malt/hops aroma, with flavor resembling the nose. Extremely smooth mouthfeel, and drinkability was excellent as well. A nice choice from the BMC-heavy gang, and a pleasant surprise.

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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 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 JayQue
3.8/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on on tap Saturday at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge Md. Got to enjoy it by the fire on a cold afternoon. Pours a clear copper color. Medium size off white head. Less than average retention but leaves a covering on top of the beer and some lacing.

Smell is ok, some hops bitterness. Tastes good. Strong hops up front, maltiness to back it up and a little funkiness...maybe a hint of belgian yeast or some other astringent flavor that reminded me of a Belgian.

Mouthfeel is rich enough for the style. Drinkability is good. I was getting ready for the office holiday party and couldn't swill a whole lot, but I could have enjoyed a few more. There are better pale ales out there but this one was not bad.

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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 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 tgbljb
4.23/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cloudy apricot color with moderate white puffy head. Nice lacing present. Smell is minimal with a slight summer fruitiness noted. Taste is exceptionally enjoyable with with the fruity maltiness combining with the background hops in perfect proportions. Ending is also a nice balance of malt and hops. Great session beer or perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

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Photo of cliff1066
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%

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 ClockworkOrange
4.02/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle purchased at Shawan Liquors in MD. Poured into a standard shaker glass. Appears a hazed golden yellow color with around a finger of bone white foam. Smells and tastes of grassy lemony hops, lightly toasted grains, bread, and sweet malt. Tasty stuff with a nice, straightforward flavor. Medium bodied and amply carbonated for a pale ale. A great beer to enjoy while at the shore.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.68/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap a couple days ago at Obrycki's Restaurant, Terminal B of Baltimore's BWI Airport. $5.25 for a full 16 oz. pint, not bad for Airport pricing.

Pours a clear orange amber color with a quickly dissipating half inch of head, and offers some random lacing. Glass was spun in some ice prior to pouring likely diminishing what might have been a different head/retention situation.

Some orange/tangerine citrus hop notes couple with moderate malts on the nose. Mid-glass, hops become more evident as does an amber sweetness to the malt structure. Taste is lightly malty with a hint of orange oil hop on the finish. Not too sweet and quite drinkable. Feel is also good. Carbonation was a bit low for my preference given the beer, otherwise I'd have given a 4.5 on the drinkability. Understandably, this may be the tap line as opposed to the beer itself.

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Photo of far333
3.93/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Faded iced tea color with a half inch of beige frothy head. Biscuity aroma.

Flavor of doughey malt, buttered corn and some faint toffee, and a mild hop bite in the finish.

Mouthfeel is somewhat thin and watery, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt because I watched in horror as the bartender overflowed the pint glass for a full 90 seconds to get rid of all the foamed he couldn't control due to his own bad pour, thereby pouring off all the carbonation. All in all, a decent malty pale ale.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into nonic.

Slightly dark amber hue with a one finger off white head that slowly settles to a thin rim along the glass. Spotty lacing.

Some light bready malts with sharp and peppery hop notes.

Light sweet malts that give off a little bit of brown sugar. The hops are citrusy and slowly fade after each sip. Full bodied with good carbonation.

A middle of the road pale ale. I'd say the flavor shows hints of an Amber Ale with the brown sugar flavors.

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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 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 bamadog
3.97/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Mkroadrush for throwing this one in as an extra - a great trader to be sure. Review is from notes taken on 12/23/09 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a light orange to moderate coppery in color; starts with a 1/2 finger slightly off-white head that fades quickly to a thin and uneven skim across the surface; body is slightly hazy and shows strong carbonation; spotty lacing is left here and there along the sides of the glass.

Smell: A great blend of bitter hoppiness that is citric in nature (orange peel and grapefruit) with a sweet malty backing; pretty simple and straightforward.

Taste: Much like the smell, very straight forward with solid bitter and ciric hopes (more grapefruit than orange peel, but they're both present) that dominate the palate; well-blended though with just a slight malty backing.

Mouthfeel: Solid carbonation that is strong, but not sharp; body is medium in weight - not heavy at all, but certainly not thin/watery; a moderately sticky coating is left on the roof of the mouth.

Drinkability: You know, this is really an all-day kind of beer. I was a little saddened to see it's got a B- overall (at least at the time of my review, who knows if and when that will change), as I thought it was solid -- certainly not quite of Alpha King quality, but it holds its own and I'm glad I got to try it.

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Photo of stirgy
3.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A near perfect appearance here. Bright and clear golden orange with a decent and lively carbonation and topped with a small foamy head. The aroma is different and appealing to me. Buttery, lemony, nearly floral with a touch of tannic nuttiness. Maybe butternut(whatever that is) or hazlenut? The taste has a citric and acidic bite, with a definitive bitterness that stings the tongue, then engulfs the palate. This is a lightly bodied beer that ends up being easily drinkable. I like the nutty quality in this beer. Also has toffee/caramel like notes. Finishes dry, clean and lightly crisp. Enjoyable and tasty.

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