Heron Ale | Nashoba Valley Brewery

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Heron AleHeron Ale
36 Ratings
Heron AleHeron Ale

Brewed by:
Nashoba Valley Brewery
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 12-29-2002

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 36 |  Reviews: 25
Reviews by BeerBeing:
Photo of BeerBeing
2/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12oz brown glass longneck generic bottle, gold/black on reddish/brownish label

Appearance: cloudy golden color, medium off-white head, minor lacing

Smell: basic malt with minor fruitness

Taste: light body, watery mouth feel, low carbonation, some citrusy hops and minor maltiness, not much else

Notes: weak brew

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More User Reviews:
Photo of JasonA
3.31/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Looks just a bit light. Solid finger head, nice lacing.

Light piny hops. Fresh. Light citrus

Light malt. Feels like I have to search for the hop. Nothing standing out. Medium finish.

Nice in the mouth. Well balanced, night be a bit on the hot side considering the ABV vs character.

Not bad. Id have another if I didnt buy it. Not sure I would look for it. Averge+ local beer. Gets an extra .5 since its local to me.

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Photo of jondeelee
2.92/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Heron Ale begins with a nose that is simultaneously sweet and sour: brown sugars and light fruit esters (apple, pear) are countered by a tart hop and citrus aroma, the latter sporting more plant-vine notes that I normally expect.

On the tongue, the beer carries the same bipolar identity, the malts coming across in waves of brown sugar and toast with light fruit esters, but the hops providing a bitterness not normally present in hoppy brews, being somewhere between grapefruit rind and fresh grass, or perhaps rose petals. This bitterness is not a turnoff, however; it makes the beer quite intriguing, and the sugars are just tuned enough to prevent the bitterness from being overwhelming. Having said that, late in the mouthful the sugars do die off, and the hops take even more of a center stage. Here is where the bitterness reaches a peak that I suspect might drive off some, especially those unfamiliar with the ESB style. This bitterness lasts well into the aftertaste, which lingers for the better part of a minute. Mouthfeel is light, and carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, while I again suspect the brew's bitterness may prove unpalatable for some, I thought the beer good. Not great--this is the weakest of the Nashoba beers I've tried--but good.

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Photo of mjstacker
3.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of schemb
3.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a good beer - seems like the phrase is damning praise in these days of triple IPAs and Belgian-style-fermented-with-a-pair-of-old-sneakers-worn-by-a-Rodenbach-brewer ales. Pale ale started out as a mildish style and now I think we expect hop-wallops and prominent esters in this and many other styles. Its got a distinctive but not overpowering hop taste, mild fruitiness, and a very nice mineral chalkiness. You could do a hell of alot worse with some other better known Pale Ales, many of which suffer from a crystal malt overdose.

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Photo of BeerSox
2.42/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into nonic.

A thin off white head quicly fizzes to a thin rim. Deep amber hue, maybe slightly darker than most Pale Ales.

Clean grain notes with only a touch of hoppiness. Maybe a slight touch of diacetyl.

The flavor is mostly a somewhat acerbic walt flavor with the hops not helping much, almost not showing up at all. Light bodied with a lot of carbonation. The finish is the lingering bitter grain.

The beer started out okay but I just can't get past the flavor. I would say this is closer to the English version of the style, but it almost has a spice to it that isn't pleasant. I'm not sure what's causing this, if it's the type of malts, the lack of hops (even English styles have more than this one does), or a lot of carbonation.

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Photo of jwc215
3.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for bringing this back from the brewery for me!

Pours slightly hazed orangeish amber with a very thin head that becomes a wide patch. Dotted lacing sticks.

The smell is tea-like, herbal, with slight citrus - some breadiness - slight caramel.

Tastes like a more bitter English bitter. Tea-like/herbal with slight caramel. It has a bitterish/aspirin-ish dryness in the finish. Hops impart a nice bitterness, but could be more flavourful.

Light-bodied with gentle carbonation. A lingering dryness gives it a "thirst-quenching" quality that led me to give the mf the higher of two scores I was between.

A more bitter ESB, with a distinct attempt at a stronger, hoppier English bitter.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.41/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased as a single at Julio's, Westboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a huge 2 1/2" eggshell head over the lightly cloudy golden brew. Head takes a long time to diminish enough to get the 12oz in the 20oz glass, with heavy foamy lacing. Aroma is lightly of fruitiness and pale malts, kind of generic. Taste starts with light pale malt, then moves onto some soft bitterness with a touch of fruitiness. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both okay. This beer just seems a bit too sedate for me, but I enjoyed this serving style better than the on-tap awhile back.

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Photo of porterman66
3.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of msondel
4/5  rDev +26.6%

Photo of jlindros
2.56/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've been waiting for a new head brewer to overhaul their beers (again but this time for good and not bad), before I went back to try these again. After having the new bourbon barrel porter I'm excited to try these again.

Pours a light fizzy head covering over super hazy yeast chunked amber orange-rosy copper red color.

Nose of... well yeast. Loaded with yeast as if they used a Belgian yeast. I literally just bought this off the shelf at the brewery store 2 days ago so this is a little worrisome. Behind the overwhelming yeast is hints of some malts, slight toasty malt sweetness. I get just the faintest hint of hops in there somewhere, with a mild grassy tone, but not much else.

Taste is a little better at least. Comes with an ESB bitterness, some earthy U.K. style hops with a fairly herbal hop flavor. The bitterness adds a slight mineral flavor to it as well. Then comes light malts, a little bit of a rustic toasted malts. There is still plenty of yeast as well, not as overwhelming as the nose, but it does have some iffy yeast. A slight astringency as well. The finish comes with some more of the mineral and astringent earthy herbal bittern hops, and some light sweetness, and lots more yeast. It has a slight watery taste to it too somehow through all that.

The mouth is lighter bodied with very little carbonation, which is sad since there is so much yeast in it. It's somewhat watery too.

Drinkability is not so great, with all the lingering yeast taste, as well as astringent hops.

1 down, 4 more to go in my test of the new beers, this one not very good at all.

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Photo of jdhilt
2.73/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

With a heavy pour got a four-fingered white head that fades quickly leaving some lace. Cloudy amber color. Slight caramel nose. Light carbonation and light-medium bodied. Slight sweet start more hops at the finish. Lingering hoppy aftertaste. $1.75 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits, Acton, Ma.

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Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I obviously thought more highly of this beer than my fellow Advocates. Perhaps this was because I had it after a couple of weaker offerings. I stand by the review--here are my notes:

Very nice egg-shell white head that leaves very nice lace on the glass side.

The aroma is surprisingly sweet. It's not that I cannot detect the hop; it's just in the backround behind the malt.

I like the balance of this beer. It starts with a round malt flavor that subtly gives way to the hop. The body is moderate, but the carbonation is a bit on the high side.

This beer is not overly bitter nor is the aftertaste paticularly long lasting. Again, for me, this is Nashoba's best regular entry.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.82/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle purchased at the brewery/winery, poured into a perfect pint glass. Comes out a bright orange color, very hazy. It has a small white head that fades quickly, no lacing.

Smell is good, herbal and tea-like with some floral notes to it. Citrus hoppiness jumps out at you yet slightly sweat aromas as well. Malted barley and bready, a touch of Belgian yeast.

Taste is really good too. It tastes bitter, but bitter sweet. Citrus hoppiness again with some Belgian yeast to tie in with the malts. It's certainly a unique ESB. The hops are a bit sharper than several ESB's I've had. It's like a slightly weaker Southern Tier Harvest ale mixed with a belgian IPA, slightly sour. Unique, but good.

Mouthfeel is a slight step down, a bit too lite. Slightly complex with a bitter finish, slightly dry at the end. Drinkability is good.

I like this beer I'd get it again, truly unique beer.

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Photo of FirstMan
2.62/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Trying new things, trying new things...

This looks more like a golden ale than anything else - that's my first impression. Light and honey-colored, golden straw tones when held up to the light. A fairly persistant head that laces nicely up the sides of the glass. Still - the lightness makes me suspicious. Plus there are little floaters of yeast settling down at the bottom, which always puts me off just a bit. That's fine in an IPA or something with more kick, but a pale just doesn't need that.

Smell is pretty good. Very sweet and honey-laced. Hops come through with a slightly acrid, somewhat vegetable edge that may be the result of poor storage. That said, fairly well balanced in the nose tending toward sweet grains and honey.

Taste is less appealing. Again sweetness predominates, with a tanginess that just shouldn't be there. A somewhat earthy tone comes through with the hops that balances out the sweetness.

Carbination gives this a sharp, crisp mouthfeel.

Overall not a pale I would recommend, but not one I would turn down either.

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Photo of taez555
3.06/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a clear orange/yellow body, with tons of rising bubbled carbonation and pillowy white head.

Nose is very fruity with only hints of caramel and soft breezy malt. Actually smells like the winery a bit, touches of apples and raspberries even. Maybe my nose is off. :-)

Taste is rather bitter at first, with a medium body. Lots of sharp bitter hop attacks. There's a natural funk yeast flavor that shines through, almost as if some of Nashoba valley's wine yeast made its way into the brew. Lots of toasted brown bread and caramel flavors, almost like burnt toast. Very woody and earthy hops, with vague hints of citrus. Again, very bitter and a bit over the top for the malt base. Ends with a lingering funky wine yeast and odd hop bitterness taste on the pallate.

The more Nashoba beers, and wines, I try, the more I see a pattern with their beers. They all have this very distinct yeast strain flavor(wine's and beers). It's interesting. Very new england sour apple sort of, funky natural yeast flavor. This beer is definitely an ESB, not an APA. Very hoppy and very in your face, but not quite as much as their IPA. Overall, it's a decent beer, but just has this weird flavor about it.

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Photo of hga2009
4.5/5  rDev +42.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

had this one on tap during a tasting at the brewery. The smell was pretty average, here goes. Wow, excellent hop character, must be lost of dry hoping in here. Thus one can use a more substantial body, but the hops drove this one. Try it, It is easy drinking and a good hop fix for the hop heads out there. Solid beer

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Photo of Dicers
3.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of mschofield
3.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a yellow-amber, topped with a one finger sudsy white head, leaves webs of lacing. The best head and lacing I've seen from a Nashoba beer yet.
Caramel and apple cider aroma, butterscotch note.
Caramel, butterscotch, tea and herb taste, some citrus zest and pith in the back.
Light to medium bodied.

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Photo of beernut7
2.31/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked this bottle up at the source off of a warm shelf. Listed as an American Pale Ale, I found this to much more to the British style. The hop character is fair and decently citrusy with an overall crispness, but other flavors weigh down what could be a nice beer.

Either the yeast strain produces so much diacetyl that the yeast cannot uptake it all, or the beer was rushed out of the fermenter and onto the shelf. The severe buttery aroma and flavor really detracts from the drinkability and overall balance of this brew. I noticed this also in the New English Cider. I have had the IPA once and do not recall this characteristic. I could sit down and finish quite a few of these if it were cleaner.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.69/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

I visited the Nashoba Valley brewery and when I saw they had a stout on hand, I was hoping to score a six pack. But, they ran out. Must be good. So they had 3 styles left, and the heron ale was the best I tried from their tasting bar (holy cow that octoberfest was a disappointing). So I brought a sixer of the heron ale home.

The head is non-existent on this brew, even after pouring it right down the center, what head tries to develop fades away quickly.

Color is a foggy bronze, but not opaque.

I smelled more malts than hops, and some fruity notes. And I actually smelled some significant booziness, which is surprising for something that's not supposed to be boozy.

I tasted more hops than I noticed in the aroma. There are caramel malts and a bitter finish.

The brew is on the fence of being noticeably flat, as the carbonation is fairly low.

Overall, I didn't mind this beer at all, and enjoyed the 6 pack over the course of a week.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.38/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer is a hazy, tawny gold, capped with a collared, striated misty head. Good head retention, not much lace to speak of. The aroma is dominated by toasted malt, a hint of caramel and buttery diacetyl, along with soft pear fruitiness. Just a faint lick of citric hops. Grainy, toasted malt starts off the sip, a brush of soft pear and peach fruitiness riding atop, mild buttery diacetyl creeping through into the finish. The hopping is prominent in the end, my guess is american hops, with a piney, citric bite. A touch of peppery flavor, as well. I'd say the beer is balanced slightly towards hoppy, although the malt keeps pace easily, finishing with a slightly husky roughness. Piney hops linger in the aftertaste, with a bit of barley husk. Medium bodied, with a slightly rough-hewn mouthfeel.
Considerably better than their lager, I could see myself trying this again. Nothing really special about this pale ale, but it's solid enough. Worth a shot.

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Photo of Shellynix
2.35/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.17/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked a bottle up at the winery during the Oktoberfest on 10/16/05.

Poured a woody brown. Kind of shiny. Extremely carbonated. Big fluffly head that dwindled down to a thin film. Some stringy lace.

Nose is malty and a bit woody.

Not much in the way of hops in this beer. A bit of souring and floral hops towards the end of each sip. Malts are a bit sweet and kind of prune-ish. Some wood as well.

Mouthfeel is a bit watery. Some oiliness going on.

Alright for a session beer but a bit too sour to have an uncorrupted palate after a while.

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Photo of Resuin
3.5/5  rDev +10.8%

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Heron Ale from Nashoba Valley Brewery
Beer rating: 3.16 out of 5 with 36 ratings