Boatswain H.L.V. Ale (Heavy Lift Vessel) | Rhinelander Brewing Company

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Boatswain H.L.V. Ale (Heavy Lift Vessel)Boatswain H.L.V. Ale (Heavy Lift Vessel)

Brewed by:
Rhinelander Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by smcolw on 12-17-2011

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Reviews: 86 | Ratings: 266
Photo of Beginner2
3.89/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I may not comment on BA average ratings any more after this one.....
But Boatswain HLV is a way, way better ale than its 3.3 average indicates.
(I won't go through the 4 criteria because it might make some people mad... and why get in a fight over beer?)
But, I think Trader Joe beers get slammed because TJ is a big distribution behemoth. But, the facts are that they have a great way of making beer: they develop great recipes, then seek out the best mid-sized brewers who can handle TJ's capacity, and a much bigger market buys great beer at an absolutely great value... and craft brewing is the better for it.
TJ is our friend.
Be nice to your friends.

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Photo of dmcbeerington
4.75/5  rDev +43.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I have tried boatswain's other stout and it's not bad, so when I saw 6 packs of these ale in 355ML can for about $5 in Trader Joe in their name, then I ask myself why not give it a try, and It just blow me. This is definitely the best beer in an aluminum can that I have ever tasted. The taste for this ale is very similar to Anchor Steam amber ale, maybe slightly more sweet and less bitter at the same time, but in my opinion this beer is more balanced, while Anchor Steam beer is more in the bitter side. The Color for this ale is beautiful; it is slight dark golden, not very clear, probably not filtered, which is a good thing. It tastes sweet first, and gives me a slight sweet after taste, and a whole lot of beer malty goodness in between. This beer to some people could mean less complexity, but to me, it's so drinkable and tasty. As always, I only drink beer when eating something, thus, this beer can be paired with most food in my opinion. And for those who only want to get drunk, well, this beer is 7%, higher than normal, so it's pretty much equivalent to a common 12 oz glass bottle with 4-5% ABV. This is my go to beer for now. Cheap, premium, and tasty.

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Photo of Guppy314
3.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From a can, pours as deep gold with a two finger frothy head. Aroma of hops, caramel and indistinct spice. Taste is fully roasted sweet malt followed by bitter hops and maybe dry fruit. Decent carbonation and some creaminess, but also a "hollowness" that's not quite watery.

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Photo of Jaredkylemccann
3.2/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I got his beer from Trader Joe's. Which I'm sure everybody knows, because that's where you get this beer. Without going into too much detail I will say that this is a very good beer for the price. It is a go to cheapy.

Color golden brown
Taste tasty hops and malt well balanced
Refreshing lightly carbonated just pin pricks on the tongue.

Over all: well-balanced refreshing beer that is about five dollars a sixpack. I get it in the cans for some reason and is my go to cheapie

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Photo of nausicaa-taos
3.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Gorgeous color. Brooding yet not imposing.

Taste. Very malty. A bit heavy feel wise for the alcohol content (seven per cent).

Probably best as an only beer for the day. And kinda wanted a cigar.

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Photo of TheStoutLord
3.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L: Dark golden color, quite hazy. Some debris floating in it. Looks like an ale with some heft. Head disappears almost immediately.

S: Malty and boozy. Some spice.

T: A very surprising crisp start, nearly reminds me of apples. Quickly followed by the boozy/malt taste, which is less surprising due to the 7% ABV. The booze isn't overwhelming though and it has a somewhat spicy finish. The whole thing reminds me of apples and raisins for some reason.

F: Heavy. Cannot quickly drink this beer. The booze feeling leaves quickly, but the thickness stays.

O: Not a great ale in my opinion, but its good for drinking a decent bomber and getting a nice buzz.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.78/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz, bought at the beginning of the year (so I am assuming it is about a year old). I intentionally cellared this to see what it would do to it. Pours somewhat like a brown ale, showing up as clear and light-caramel in color, with a nice amount of beige head that lasts. Aroma is of medium roast malts, and a bit of sweetness. It tastes of malts and a lot and sweetness (almost, but not quite, too much so) mid-pallet, with a moderate amount of hops and carbonation. The mouth-feel is where this beer stands out: it is full and almost chewy, with a satisfying finish.

This beer has lots of similarities to Stone's Arrogant Bastard, but, if I remember correctly, it is not quite as good. I have had this beer before, over a year ago, so it's hard to say if cellaring has helped it, but it certainly hasn't hurt it. For $2.30 a 22 oz bomber at Trader Joe's, this beer is a bargain.

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Photo of constantine_272
3.34/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured with a beautiful huge head and a clear dark brown. Smells of corn, graphite and carbon dioxide. Tastes similarly with corn and graphite mineral and a richer leathery finish. Tastes watery through the middle like it's missing something. Pine resin bitterness finishes the beer. A medium dryness finishes and build with the bitter finish. The flavorless midsection of the taste just was disappointing and overshadowed all of the good parts of this beer. Bummer.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This doesn't smell half-bad at all - it's a bit adjuncty, but it also features some floral hops and a touch of caramel malts. Tastes pretty decent, too: I get nice notes of caramel and chocolate, with the hops balancing it on the finish. Cereal grain is restrained, as it should be. Malt sweetness is high in terms of feel, but it has a nice and dry finish. I know I've given Minhas tons of shit, but this isn't half bad at all. As far as cheap Trader Joe's house beer is concerned, this is solid.

3.18/5: I've had FAR worse, that's for sure

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Photo of Brenden
3.06/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I don't know where this came from, but here it is...

It's a very dark brown but some light comes in and a bit of red-orange lingers in the body. The head is a sizeable creamy tan one that shows pretty good retention and some good volume on the fairly sticky lace.
There's a caramel / toffee sweetness but also roast. There's lots of dark fruits, some almost nutty character, dried bread crust, and some fusel alcohol. The flavor is much the same but with some artificial creamy sweetness, a little bit of burnt woods, overcooked brown sugar, and a sort of earthiness.
The feel is this beer's worst aspect. It's not clean, though it starts fairly smooth. It gains a roughness and astringency. It ends with lots of graininess, and it can't quite seem to figure out whether it's sweet or dry.

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Photo of Tripel_Threat
2.92/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2.29 bomber from Trader Joe's, one of a triplet I brought home (along with Chocolate Stout and Double I.P.A.). It's been two strikes for Minhas so far, let's see how HLV stacks up.

Pours a dark, dark brown into pilsner glass, with tons of carbonation, like the Chocolate Stout. Looks more like soda pop than beer, except for the large, thick, creamy head. Pretty awesome retention. I let it warm for a bit. No lacing. The carbonation settles, letting an orange/brown color shine through. Dozens of small bubbles slowly make their way upwards through the brew. If anything, HLV is pretty attractive looking. Looks thick.

Smell is malt. Sweet.

Taste is, yep, sweet malt, some booze, and a hop bite on the back end. Mouthfeel is thick, much thicker than their stout.

Finally a winner from Minhas. Not earth-shaking, and not something I'm going to go around singing the praises of, but 2.29 gets you a damn fine ale here.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.6/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours an almost opaque super dark orange-brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, citrus fruit, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, brown sugar, candied citrus zest, and intense metallic flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a poor beer with a surprisingly nice aroma, but the metallic flavors I am getting are really odd and pretty much ruin the drinkability for me.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of RDB51
3.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I like this beer. The price is right and the taste was much better than I expected.

The color of the H.L.V. was dark brown with a light red tint seen when held to the light.
The smell was a very soft sent of malt. The taste had a strong malt flavor that hides the hops until the finish. The carbonation was light. This beer is fairly sweet and the taste lingers.

I would buy it again.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.06/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Boatswain H.L.V. Ale has a thick, spongy, cream-colored head, a dark brown, bubbly, opaque appearance, and a little bit of lacing left behind. The aroma is of sweet, syrupy, dark-roasted barley malt or brown bread crust, and the flavor is of that element, with strong, straight-forward bitterness and sugar. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy, and Boatswain H.L.V. Ale finishes rich, sweet, and semi-wet. Overall, this one is surprisingly good. I recommend it! RJT

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Photo of jimmah120
3.36/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle with no date. $2 CHEAP

Dark brown/amber, mocha cap with some sticky lace on the glass. It has the traditional Minhas big beer scent (burnt band-aids and rubbing alcohol) with some caramel and english hops. big buttery sweetness, bitter english (floral, slight pine) hops, an alcohol infused finish. Malts are generic; sweet, dark, mixing with the hops into an oak bitterness. getting those dry leaves, man...

budget strong ale

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Photo of burntoutphilosopher
3.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650 Ml Bottle for 2$ !

This beer is dark, as it should be. Roasted malts dominate and virtually no light gets through.


I can’t believe how good this was for it’s price point. It’s not omegang, or Unibrou, but for 2$ a bottle you get a beer that is really great.
A malt heavy sweet beer with a great bitter aftertaste. Balanced, and runs a perfect range of flavors. I really wish I’d bought more than four.
lightly carbonated. maybe too lightly.

Thick and lingering. Maybe a little too lingering. Has the aftertaste of your average stout

Very impressed. At the price point it’s fair to compare it to amber bock or some other generic canned beer. Far Cheaper by ounce than new belgiums 1554.
And what you get is… a well-balanced beer, on Lees, with complex tastes, long finish, deep, smokey, and just the right amount of bitter to not taste sweet. I wanted to guzzle it, but it also tasted great in small sips. I could enjoy many of these.
At 2$ for a 650Ml bottle, you can’t find any beer on lees at this price, and this one holds its own.

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Photo of SerialTicker
2.83/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Offered this out of a bomber. Not sure of the price... no bottling date on the bottle either. Alrighty then. Poured into a shaker pint.

Appearance: The highlight. I was told this was an IPA, but I figured that was wrong just by looking at it. This is a dark brown beer with a nice beige head on it. Lacing is really nice. Looks to have great clarity. The highlight of HLV, no doubt.

Smell: Ugh. A mess, to be honest. Malts, stale (best way I can describe it) hops, and... soy sauce? Not God awful, but not exactly pleasant. Strange, to say the least.

Taste/feel: Safe bet that this beer is insanely old, I think. I'm not sure of the date (like I said), but I don't think I was drinking the same thing as others here... then again, maybe I was? I doubt it though. There's virtually no balance. It has a weird, strong metallic sort of bitterness, with malts trying to balance it out -- but it doesn't work. It's a weird mesh of bitter and sweet, and it's just not working right. The flavor itself isn't very good either -- tragically unbalanced with a pretty strong presence of alcohol. I know that this is a "Strong Ale", but the alcohol is ridiculously prevalent here. The feel is medium... relatively thin. Not very carbonated.

A third time -- I'm pretty confident this beer is well past its prime, though I'll never know. Based on this experience, I wouldn't want to try HLV again, but it's probably not normally this unpleasant.

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Photo of LA_Hue24
3.95/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Trader Joe's offers this beer for $2 and some change that already makes it a great bargain. Nice head good retention good roasty malt taste with hints of chocolate and 7% ABV for $2 perfect for when Im broke and want a quality beer. If the price was ever raised to twice that amount, I would probably still buy it

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Photo of Mavigo
3.44/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bought from Trader Joe's, served in a pint.

A: Pours a rich, dark mahogany, amber color, with a short beige head that dissapears fast leaving a few dots of lacing, not much.

S: Smells of wheat, grains, grass, malts, barley, hops, smell is faint, have to inhale deeply.

T: Tastes a bit bland, hints of wheat, grass, grains, malts initially, followed by some mild hops, but overall hard to pick up on flavors.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation, flavors lack

O: Overall, it was only two bucks, which is well worth the price, its not outstanding or anything, but if the price is right, the price is right.

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Photo of Bockrules
3.26/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured from the bomber into a pint glass

A - Pours a deep used motor oil black that turns dark amber when held to the light. Plenty of carbonation rises in streams to the rocky, three-finger, tan head. Head stays firmly in place all the way down the glass. Leaves a few small splotches of lacing near the top of the glass and a wall of lacing on the bottom third.

S - If I didn't know any better, I would swear this is some imperial version of miller high life upon opening the bottle and taking a whiff. A bit disappointing with sweet cereal adjuncts and light malt reaching the nose. Things open up a tad in the glass, and molasses notes come into play.

T - Luckily I can tell from first sip that the taste doesn't follow the nose. Big chocolate and molasses upfront. The body is robust with a fair amount of hop bitterness to tame the truckloads of lightly toasted chocolate and caramel malt. Molasses notes come through strong as the beer passes over the back of the tongue and leads to a molasses covered plum finish.

M - On the lighter side of Medium bodied with ample carbonation to give the beer a slight chewiness. Works fine with the flavors but I would prefer a bit more heft.

This is my first go with a strong ale and this particular version was somewhat reminiscent of a weaker stout with a black ale body. The flavors were a bit one dimensional, but passible. However the body was too thin and the smell wasn't much better than a macro. I expected more from this beer (perhaps simply because it comes in a bomber). I think I may have picked this up a Trader Joe's, anyhow I don't foresee myself getting this again unless it is under $2 a bottle. Life is too short to repeatedly buy costly mediocre beers.

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Photo of Offa
3.6/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I hadn't expected much, but this is a pretty good beer, enjoyable if simple.

Deep brown, medium-big tan head slowly shrinks to foamy ring, no lace.

Aroma is caramelised barley, pine bark, musty raisins.

Taste is metallic dried fruit and toasted barley up front, and sweet, with slightly drier spicy finish. Feel is solid and full, not watery, not oily. It is simple but very enjoyable.

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

Enjoyed this bottle out of a pub style beer glass.

A: Pours a brown hue with a decent sized white head that slowly dissipates into a wispy lacy leaving a nice sized trail.

S: Malty alcoholic aroma with a nutty background.

T: Similar to the smell there is a malty alcoholic flavor that is predominately sweet and finishes slightly dry.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Decent brew – good flavors and aromas with enough alcohol to make it interesting.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.58/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

650 ml brown glass bottle with simple straightforward label art and a standard unbranded pry-off cap acquired at a Trader Joe's; I don't remember the exact cost but I'm sure it was value. 7% ABV confirmed. OG: 17.35. 80 IBUs. "Brewed & Bottled by: Rhinelander Brewing Co. LLC. Monroe WI 53566." Do we have this categorized under the wrong brewery? It's not listed on this page either:

Nowhere on the label is it identified as an American Strong Ale, so I'm not reviewing it as such. It does identify as an ale.

Served cold, straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated. Reviewed live. Expectations are low given its current low ratings.

A: Pours a two finger head of khaki colour. Supple. Soft smooth complexion. Nice creaminess. Pretty good (~5+ minute) retention for the highish ABV. Light uneven lacing as the head recedes.

Body colour is a an extremely dark brown, bordering on black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Opaque.

Overall, it's pretty mundane looking. Not unique or special. No overt flaws are noticeable.

Sm: Brown malts, caramalt, biscuit malt. Notable floral hop character. Some nuts. Hints of neutral fruits. Average sweetness. Some apple. Some toffee. Hints of cream. No yeast or alcohol comes through. A generally appealing aroma, though it's not particularly evocactive. Still not sure what style they're going for here; maybe it's an aggressively hopped brown ale?

A mild strength aroma with a definite English character.

T: Hm. Caramalts, brown malts, vienna malts. Way too sweet on the back end, with near-cloying fruit syrup, light vanilla, and cream. Maybe white chocolate too. Some light floral hop character. No real yeasty character. Alcohol does come through. Lightly bready.

Poorly balanced and badly built. Lacks complexity and subtlety. I'm not really enjoying it.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Creamy. Slick. Decent carbonation. Okay thickness. Poor presence on the palate. Sticky. Doesn't suit the flavour profile all that well; it certainly isn't custom-tailored to it. Gets too dry and coarse right on the finish, tanking drinkability.

Dr: Plain, boring, and unremarkable. It could be priced far worse. I won't be getting it again. You could do worse for a value beer. It'll get you drunk. A forgettable brew that isn't worth your time. Trader Joe's has far better brews in this or a better price range. Not recommended. I wouldn't want more than one; it's not very drinkable. In fact, I'm wishing this was a smaller bottle.


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Photo of scootny
3.6/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 22 oz bomber. Clear garnet brown with a very nice head. Good lacing. It may be an American strong ale but it has a decidedly English aroma. Toffee, brown bread, and yeast fruitiness. A hint of alcohol and coffee. Taste follows the nose. Like an English strong ale but hoppier. Still earthy but bigger. Lots of toasty malt with caramel and light fruitiness. Dry finish with lingering notes of gain grains and earth. Feel is soft and supple with a surprising lightness.. A solid tasty beer. At just over two bucks for a bottle it is an outstanding value.

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Photo of Murrhey
2.84/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a standard pressure-cap bomber into a conic pint glass in high elevation Kalispell, Mont. Reviewed live.

A- One finger khaki-colored head with rapid erosion. Walnut-color with little light poking through. Alright looking.

S- Chocolate, slightly boozy, fairly tasty.

T- Grainy, some chocolate malts. Not a lot here.

M- Medium bodied and dry.

O- Mehhh. Nothing stands out. Very plain brew.

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Boatswain H.L.V. Ale (Heavy Lift Vessel) from Rhinelander Brewing Company
3.31 out of 5 based on 266 ratings.
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