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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 GrandpaGeorg
4.33/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What was the old ad tagline, "Try it again for the first time?" Clay Pipe is a local company run by local resident Gregg Norris. Fantastic products. I drink them all the time at local haunts like "Beck's Pub" and at the O's games. I have them right now in the fridge--this one specifically. So why haven't I reviewed it until now? Too busy enjoying, I guess. Gorgeous copper color, nice head that lasted through the first few sips; perfect carbonation. Mostly malt with a touch of fruity hops in the nose. Taste is the same. Rich, slick malt with a hint of lip-smacking hops that lingers on the tongue. A bit of bitterness in the end. Good right down to the bottom of the glass, even improving as it warmed. Just like the "on tap" version. And as a local product, very very fresh tasting. Thanks Gregg!

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

12oz brown bottle, no date information.

Orange tinged amber. Tall tan head of loosely piled mixed size bubbles. Swirling columns of sheeting carbonation. The head slowly settles to a thick coat, leaving no lacing. Lightly toasted grain, and grassy, slightly spicy hop aromas rise from the glass. Toasty malt with a touch of caramel and slightly fruity-sweet citrus toned hop flavors great the palate. The finish is more crisp and sweet than straight hop resin, but still provides a pleasant compliment. Nicely balanced with an ample malt toastiness and offsetting sweet crisp lemony orange rind. A bit of warmth accentuates the orange flavors. Medium body with bright carbonation, this is fairly smooth on the tongue. Highly drinkable and a solid pale ale.

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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 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 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 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 cubedbee
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright copper with a finger of dense white head and a moderate amount of lacing. Smell is sweet malt and floral hops, neither particularly strong. Taste is simple but good---a grainy malt taste with a slight caramel note followed by a fairly sharp hop finish. Body is a little on the thin side, but the mouthfeel is very smooth and goes down easily. Nothing about this APA jumps out and grabs you, but it's a solid local brew that tastes great with a simple meal.

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Photo of Dithyramb
3.51/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A completely different bird in the bottle. Bottled by someone else for them. No bottled on or freshness dating.
Beautiful out of the bottle. Tarnished bronze with a slight chill hazy. Nice, tight off white head that lasts for a bit and leaves some excellent lacing.
Smells all malt.
Bready chalky malt, accented with some European style hop finish on the beer. Had good sharp flavor on the front and back end. Not top notch, but better-n-avg
Sticky sweet mouthfeel. Good and lasting
Had this one by itself and with MD's own blue crabs. Goes well with both. Not world class, but cheap and worthy of drinking several. A pretty damn nice session brew and one that my macro friends will drink.

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