Alimony Ale | Buffalo Bill's Brewery

132 Reviews
Alimony AleAlimony Ale

Brewed by:
Buffalo Bill's Brewery
California, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Buffalo Bill's Alimony Ale was originally brewed back in 1987 for a customer going through a divorce. It has gained reputation as one of the most eccentric brews, from reports in the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. No longer one of the bitterest beers in America, just one of the best.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-13-2000

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Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 336
Photo of Knapp85
2.95/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Loved the artwork on the bottle. That's what made me pick this up in the first place. The pour was nice it didn't overflow with head like some beers do. The aroma is of mostly west coast hops at first that almost switches into more malty aromas after it warms up. The color is a light copper with yellow highlights. The flavor has enough hops to say "yes I am an IPA". The taste is sweet upfront and finished dry which bring you in for another sip. This is a pretty solid brew.

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Photo of metter98
3.49/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy amber orange in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface, a collar around the edge, and some lacing down the sides.
S: Light to moderate aromas of caramel malts are present in the nose along with hints of citrusy hops.
T: The taste very much follows the smell, except that there are slight hints of malty sweetness and the hops contribute a light amount of bitterness. Slight bits of pine resin are noticeable towards the finish.
M: It feels nearly medium bodied and slightly crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I suspect that this beer might have been past its prime as the hops seemed to have diminished, but this showcases the malty undertones of the beer.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Standard as far as IPA's are concerned, this bright citrus character is hindered by sharp alcohol taste.

Starting with a bright golden/amber blend, the color is glowing but not brilliant due to unfiltered hops. Loosely knit bubbles fall apart rather quickly from it's initially formitable pour for small pockets and a thin lace around the glass. A fine appearance but not spectacular.

Graham cracker maltiness and American hops give a light maple syrup coated grapefruit and oranges while a spicy decoration of alcohol and gingersnaps carry closely behind.

Flavors take hold with the caramel-rich maltiness but soon waivers as the citrus notes prevail with citrus piths and peel. Finishing with growing bitterness, which pushes past smooth bitterness and into grainy bite that's exacerbated by acetone flavored alcohols. While starting standard and typical, the beer finishes quite rough.

Lightly creamy and moderately rich at the onset, the mid palate is somewhat dull and empty aside from the fleeting maltiness and growing hops. But the finish gives an unsettling astringengency of grasses or tree sap that hangs up in the jaws and throat with an intense pang.

While some attributes of this ale are quite good, there's a few grainy, astringent, and harsh characteristics that degrade it a bit.

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Photo of zeff80
3.38/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a clear, golden amber color with a small, off-white head of bubbly foam. It had okay retention and left minimal lace.

S - It smelled very floral but there wasn't much else.

T - It tasted fairly spicy with a citrusy kick. It had an English-like maltiness with some sweet caramel.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a clean, dry finish.

O - This is an okay American IPA. It is certainly better than their Orange Blossom and Pumpkin ales.

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Photo of jlindros
3.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a light fizzy head of almost 1 finger over clear honey amber pale color.

Nose has some lighter hops, a decent citrus, light spicy hops, light malts.

Taste is lighter as well, some light malts come through, mostly pale with hints of reddish malts, a light bitter almost hop extract flavor, barely any real hop flavor, some earthy bitterness, a weird fruity and minty and spicy feel on the finish, bordering astringent bitterness and slight metallic after flavors.

Mouth is medium to a bit lighter bodied, decent carbonation.

Overall pretty meh, some light hop flavors, more hop extract than anything, light malts, some off flavors, meh.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear - although bottle conditioned - and very dark brown with ruby highlights topped by a dense, creamy tan head that holds very well and leaves some exceptional lace. The aroma is rich with light fruit and caramel notes. The body is medium with a fine, median carbonation that is lightly zesty on the tongue and fairly creamy once it warms in the mouth. The flavor is bold and rich with layers of caramel, toffee, chocolate and roasted coffee notes as well as some lightly floral & grassy hoppiness. The combination of dark malts and hop acids gives a low pH that's borderline sharp but works well with the dryness of the beer. It finishes with a quick flourish of hop flavor and bitterness, then receeds with a lingering caramel maltiness. Starts well and ends well! The "most bitter beer in America" clearly refers to the alimony aspect of it, and not the IBU's, as it's really quite malty and fairly complex. Very nice! Much more than I'd expected, and well recommended.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light golden brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, earthy hops and some citrus.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel and citrus. Then a subdued hops presence comes in and is a bit weak for the style. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy and brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down easy, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, while there are some better IPA’s out there, this beer is still pretty solid.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Alimony is a system by which, when two people make a mistake, one of them keeps paying for it."

--Peggy Joyce

Bright kumquat orange with a handful of racing bubble streams leading up to a thick chunk of khaki colored foam that looks decent enough. Small sheets of bubble-bath like lace end up on the upper portion of the glass. Given what else these guys brew, the appearance could very well be the highlight.

The nose reflects the ingredients. In other words, this brew smells like a caramel-malted, citric-hopped (Cascade primarily) American IPA. It isn't quite ballsy enough on the hop side of the ledger to earn the next highest score.

Alimony Ale, while far from a wonderful AIPA, is the single best thing that Buffalo Bill's currently bottles. It's hard to go too far astray when following (roughly speaking) the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale blueprint.

It tastes and feels like most of the original 80 IBUs are present and accounted for, so this is a reasonably fresh bottle. The beer features a pale-caramel bottom end that dominates early, followed a rush of white grapefruit zest that finishes the mouthful with a crisp snap of bitterness.

This isn't the cleanest, most well-defined IPA in America, but messy-estery can be good too. The mouthfeel has a firm creaminess born of sufficient malt, biting alpha acids, and nicely calibrated carbonation that is on the spunky side.

Buffalo Bill's Brewery beer ranges from the abysmal (Orange Blossom Cream Ale) to the forgettable (Pumpkin Ale) to the merely average (Blueberry Oatmeal Stout). Guess we can now add the 'surprisingly decent' to the list, courtesy of Alimony Ale. It might not have resulted in better beer, but to be true to the name, the brewers should have cranked the IBUs to well beyond triple digits. Bitter is an understatement.

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Photo of russpowell
3.58/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber with 3+ fingers of cream colored head. Good head retention

S: Some grassy & wooody hop presence

T: Grassy & herbal hop bitterness along with a little pineyness & just a touch of breadyness up front. A little bit of caramel fights through woody & piney bitterness. Finishes with a bready sweetness intertwined with much wooody hop bitterness

MF: Medium bodied, fairly smooth carbonation, fairly good balance

Not a bad AIPA, I'm sure there was a time when this was considered very hoppy, now days, not so much. Might buy this again if the price was right, otherwise I stick with something from Stone, Odell, Founders or Bells. Not a bad flyer I took on this one a part of a mixed sixer

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Photo of Jason
3.97/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz brown. Turn of the century cartoon of a small man, big mouth character holding a sign. On the sign it states, "The Bitterest BREW in America."

Appearance: Very dark with ruby edges and a nice looking thin lace that retains.

Smell: Big and malty with caramel and rum notes.

Taste: Extremely smooth, rich malt sweetness that transforms into a roasted grain dryness becoming almost tart. Hop leaf flavours finish at the end, mixing well with the complexity of malt afters.

Notes: Not the bitterest brew, but, very malty and complex. The malts definitely reign in this brew. Very unique and enjoyable.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.96/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

I think the more Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid about this label, the better for the brewery... Anyway, this stuff pours a clear bronze topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises onion, light pine resin, and musty biscuits in the background. Goddamn onions... The taste holds notes of musty greens, light pine resin, soapy grapefruit rind, and dry toffee. At least the onions didn't show up... The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a dry finish. Overall, I can't say I enjoyed this IPA all that much, but it's far from truly bad.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.22/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I am now committed to reducing, if not eradicating, my backlog of bottles. This one was part of a local, in-person trade with tone77.

From the bottle: "Good beer, like true love, doesn't last long. Enjoy it while it lasts."; "It's Irreconcilably Different". Hee hee. The soundtrack to this one includes Led Zeppelin's "Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman)".

Grrr, fooled again by a screw-top cap! I took out my frustration in the frm of an aggro pour, which resulted in a pseudo-cascade. It settled into a massive three fingers of dense, tawny head with great retention. Color was a deep-amber (SRM = > 5, < 7) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was bitter, as anyone forced to pay alimony might be, with a prevalent pine odor. Now, my hophead mouth was beginning to water! Even better was the sticky lacing that the foam left behind in its wake. Mouthfeel was medium. Taste was a combination of bitter grapefruit rind and minty pine, reminding me of how and why I became a hophead in the first place. I have been subjecting myself to all manner of styles in this attempt at downsizing, but this was a welcome relief! Finish was dry and biting, fitting for both an AIPA and the thought of paying alimony.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Clear copper with no head and very little lacing. Looks flat except for the edges of the beer.

Smell - Eh. Hop aromas come through, but it's a struggle. Hard to identify exactly which hop aromas are there. More of a bready malt smell.

Taste - Some bitter hops at the front, but a sharp, nutty flavor from the malt immediately follows. The hops don't come through in the flavor. The finish is bitter, but more unclean than appealing.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with sharp carbonation. Much more than I anticipated, given the lack of a head.

Overall - It was easy to drink, for sure. Just not what I'd choose to drink every day. Not terrible, just not great. Very average IPA.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Buffalo Bill's has become somewhat a novelty in the craft brewing realm, let's see if their amusingly entitled American IPA Alimony Ale holds up to the challenge of being a solid West Coast IPA. Appears a pale copper hue slightly hazed with sediment, bright offwhite head forming thick with fine bubbles intricate lacing left behind, beautiful looking brew. Aromatics strong citric nature, hints of peach and biscuit pale malts. Flavors bitter just like the alimony payments, not joking this beer has a strong unrivaled bitterness, starts citric peel fruity ends abrasive earthy/dirty hop bitteriness. Mouthfeel is dry with hop bitterness hints of aspirin medicinal qualities overall bring out a nice flowing carbonation that carries this medium bodied brew without difficulty. Drinkability overall is excellent, a beer I will try fresh anytime solid West Coast example not the cream of the crop, but this beer is no slouch.

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Photo of tdm168
3.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber with one finger of head that fades to a thick lacing. Smells heavily of malts. Taste is very malty but with a slight hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium body with good carbonation.

Not a bad IPA. I've definitely had better, but I'll probably have this again.

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Photo of ejimhof
3.24/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: This may be the lightest color IPA I have ever had with half inch head and thin lacing.

Smell: All I can smell is hops.

Taste: All I can taste is hops.

Mouthfeel: Very dry and bitter I get no sweetness in this one at all.

Drinkability: Nice to try bit I wouuld not drink more than one of these.

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Photo of Tone
3.3/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy, copper color. 1/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of slight rye, slight metallic, slight citrus, sweet malt, and citrus hops. Fits the style of an American IPA. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, sweet citrus, hops, slight grain, and again a rye flavor. No mention of rye in the recipe, according to their website. Not sure what I was tasting and smelling, but I could have swore it was rye.

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Photo of aasher
3.11/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I tried this last night with a fellow BA. It poured a nice gold in color, light in body, with a light bright white head. It really didn't offer much from the nose. It had light floral bitterness with what could've been sweet pale malt and honey. The flavor was bland, in my opinion at least, as far as American IPAs go. It's a little bready, a little sweet, while offering a light hop bitterness on the backend. It's ok, but just ok. I wouldn't pick this over any other six pack that's for sure. It drinks light and clean and is pretty drinkable for the style. It doesn't dry out your palate. It's drinkable but does it make you want to drink it? Not really. This beer should be considered a mild success considering their Blueberry Stout and Pumpkin ale. Spend your money elsewhere.

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Photo of WesWes
2.8/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a hazy amber color with a towering off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is average. It has a decent malt scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts. It's sweet and fruity with loads of yeast character. The hop aroma is average. It's mildly bitter with a piney hop character. The taste is poor. The flavors are all over the place. First, it's sweet with caramel malts while also being bitter with piney hop notes. The yeast provides a dry, fruity soapy character that is undesirable and off-putting. The mouthfeel is average as well. It is a medium/full bodied beer with a little too much carbonation. This is a forgettable IPA. It's a slow drinker that will most likely result in a drain pour.

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Photo of Zorro
3.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Clear copper colored beer with a small white colored head.

Smells sweet with lots of caramel and floral hop. Good hop aroma but not overwhelming. Scents of tea, grapefruit and papaya.

Starts out woody with a strong burnt sugar flavor. Dry beer with lots of wood in the taste. Little bit of tea and burned candy in the taste.

Mouthfeel is full.

Drinkability is just so so here. This just isn't all that flavorful a beer. It's OK but I think I can find better beer.

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Photo of weeare138
2.91/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to hopdog...
Appears a dark murkey brown with a scattered tan lace. Looks like a porter to me.
Smell is of roasted nuts, muddled hops, maple, cocoa, bitter sweetness, and prunes.
Taste is sweet, perhaps too sweet, with some dying hops, along with a tad bit of sour maple.
Mouthfeel is sugary sweet with syrupy maple and some fizzy funk.
Drinkability...a bit past it's prime but an experience.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.41/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Murky orange with a strong feverish display of effervesce. A rocky rigid foam cream colored structure dominates the glass with a near 4 finger height with a slow rate of retreat. Patchy foamwork sticks well for lacing.

S: Sweet toasted caramel and pine. Average level of aroma, nothing that really sticks out.

T: Sweet toasted caramel, fresh grapefruit and pine. Nice flavor, sweet and bitter mix. Knock out of cypress-citrus hops is fresh, wet and bitter with a confident level of hop awareness. Dry toasted fade.

M: Nice snap of carbonation, frothy texture, medium bodied.

O: Overall, smooth sweet and bitter with a fresh wet hopping. Toasty sweet malt base, good drinkability, aside from the so-so aroma this turned out to be a fun style to down, wont knock you out complexity wise, but a good casual downer.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.11/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A brown appearance for an ipa, what is that all about, happens all too often. Aroma was malty, nutty, and then a blotch of grapefruit.

Bitter taste, malty woody pencil shaving taste. Not all that bitter or hoppy by today's standards. Just leans English with all the toffee and woody flavors, bitterness. Old school ipa.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.08/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sierra Nevada pint glass. No readable freshness date.

A- A heavy psst! erupts when I crack the top followed by some carbonation steam. From a light pour comes a towering 8 or so inches of head so large that I can't get all the beer in the glass at first. It starts to melt around the edge and there's a hump of foam sticking up in the middle. I pour a second time and still can't get all the beer out of the bottle. Now the hump is protruding past the top of the glass. I pour a third time and almost cause foam to spill over the edge of the glass, but I'm good. Now the hump is an off-white mountain. Finally, with the fourth pour, I empty the bottle. The beer itself is a dark amber color. Crazy lacing. This is the first offering I've had from Buffalo Bill and just the appearance has me all excited.

S- Crisp, pungent hop aromas flow from the head. More herbal than piney or grassy but still has a citrus tone. Also a slight astringency is present.

T- At first there's a bitterness but, in a flash, the malts set in and tip the scales. There's an alcohol bite that's a bit unwelcome (considering the ABV) along with the bit of astringency I sensed in the aroma, but overall a well-balanced flavor profile. Also a somewhat metallic aftertaste.

M- Tingly and bright with high carbonation. Medium body is a bit on the moist side.

O- A very good IPA. I'll be seeking out more of Buffalo Bill's lineup for sure now.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.4/5  rDev +29.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pours a very nice clear amber copper with at least a half inch of head

S - Smells bitter and piney. Fresh hop smells hits the nose hard.

T - Hard to believe it's 80 IBU's but it is. Starts pretty bitter but as your palate adjust you have caramel sweetness malt along side of these harsh bitter hops which mend nicely but as most west coast hop ales coats my mouth in a sort of "soap like" hop taste. Only moderate as this is balanced its not near as irritating, as say Green Flash (shudder!)

M - Light to medium, found the bitterness was like asking for seconds.

D - West coast done right, I found this at my local D's and if found cheaper than 15 dollars a sixer would drink quickly! With fresh west coast hop taste I like the bitter!

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Alimony Ale from Buffalo Bill's Brewery
3.39 out of 5 based on 336 ratings.
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