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)
280 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 280 |  Reviews: 92
Reviews by ruckus232:
Photo of ruckus232
3/5  rDev -9.1%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Beginner2
3.89/5  rDev +17.9%
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 BrewMaven
3.41/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Not bad for a $2.29 bomber..Tastes like a bock with some hops added.

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Photo of Guppy314
3.42/5  rDev +3.6%
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 goodsuds
3.82/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

If someone poured this sight unseen they'd probably think it just a moderately hopped brown ale. I suspect the ABV is the only reason it is listed as a strong ale. Overall I've enjoyed this beer, especially for the money. If this were a $10 sixer I'd say it was okay but probably not buy it again. But for $5 this stuff is great and I'll be buying it again for sure.

L - Poured from the can into a nonic. No discernable date code. "18 004 17" printed on the bottom. Pours a reddish brown hue with a one finger head that dissipates quickly.

A - smells of dark fruits, sweet malt, earthy hops. The nose reminds me of a subdued dopplebock.

T - Sweet malt, caramel, dark fruit, slight spicy hop note followed by a pronounced long bitter finish. Alcohol is well hidden. Yum. I would say this is well balanced but the finish is mostly hop bitterness and it lingers.

M -. Not watery like others have commented, but definitely thinner than I would prefer. Carbonation is high. If they mashed this at slightly higher temp to get a bit more mouthfeel and slightly less ABV it'd be even better. But for the money I'm not splitting hairs.

O - This is a good beer. It gets even better as it warms. I think I'd call this a strong brown ale. It doesn't fit well in the same category with Arrogant Bastard. I know American Strong Ale is kind of a catch all category but this beer is more delicate and approachable than any beer I've ever had in the category. I'll buy it again for sure. There is nothing offensive or of putting about it at all and I find it to be quite enjoyable. For the money it is a steal.

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Photo of burntoutphilosopher
3.8/5  rDev +15.2%
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.

 1,111 characters

Photo of Jaredkylemccann
3.2/5  rDev -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 UCLABrewN84
2.6/5  rDev -21.2%
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.

 713 characters

Photo of BeerDreadz
3/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of SolaceBrewing
2.84/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

22 oz bottle from Trader Joe's

Appearance - dark red/brown; head disappears in about a minute; clear

Aroma - slightly malty; no detectable hop aroma

Flavor - sweet, light toasted malt, and light-medium hop bitterness; slight alcohol burn in the finish; little to no hop flavor

Mouthfeel - good carbonation level; balanced and smooth on the tongue

Overall - about what I would expect for a $2 beer; a decent strong brown ale; nothing noteworthy but nothing horrible; after drinking a bottle of this, the lasting bitterness and alochol bite in absence of anything else means I wouldn't buy it again

 601 characters

Photo of Jpinoniemi
3.25/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of G_Shoe
3.7/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mctizzz
1.75/5  rDev -47%

Photo of ryancl
2.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of BCborn
3.48/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of jondeelee
3.36/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heavy Lift Vessel opens to a malty, grainy nose that focuses mainly on grains, with a few sugars thrown in for balance. The grain notes feature toast crust, biscuit, Grape Nuts cereal, wet wheat, and bits of floury baguette. The sugars bring light touches of brown sugar, as well as a smattering of orange, apricot, and berry fruit esters, though the sugars are fairly light as a whole. Bits of vanilla and caramel add additional texture, as does a touch of toasted nut. The overall aroma is also fairly light, dissipating quickly, until what is left is largely a grain husk and table sugar remnant, leaving the beer smelling weak and somewhat watery.

On the tongue, the beer proves to have a bit more punch than the nose let on, the first flavors being a fairly nice mixture of grains and fruity sugars, the former adding toast crust, brown bread, wet wheat, bits of grass, and Grape Nuts cereal, and the latter bringing in some orange, apricot, and berry fruit esters. Hops add a bit of lemon and a smidgen of grapefruit, deepening the citrusy complexity. Small touches of vanilla and caramel, as well as toasted nut, add more texture. In subsequent sips much of the nuance is lost, and the hops seem to take over, bringing a larger grapefruit rind presence that gives the beer a bitter overtone that clashes with the sweet berries. The aftertaste features a stronger bitter hop presence, as well as a continuation of the bread and sugar notes, though these fade rather quickly, until what is left on the tongue is mainly grapefruit rind. Mouthfeel is medium-light, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, for the price ($2.50 a 1 pt 6 oz bottle at Trader Joe’s), this is not a bad beer, and the 7% ABV does add a nice layer of complexity and flavor. However, the beer is somewhat weak and watery, and largely overpowered by grapefruit rind, so that the entire experience is overly bitter, masking the nice sugars underneath.

 1,927 characters

Photo of EBurg052
3.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of chinchill
3.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a Samuel Smith becker. No beer style indicated on the label other than "ale", but the IBU (80) and O.G. (17.35) are provided, as well as the accurate description of "dark brown".

Even with a vigorous pour, only a 1 finger sudsy head was raised, and this settled to a top coat rather soon. pours dark brown where bright light passes through. Modest beige head, but it lasts. There's modest temporary lace on the glass.

Smell: mildly boozy; medium/dark malts; hints of dark bread, vanilla and vague spices.

The flavor is nicely rich, although it takes a moment to develop. Plenty of dark malt flavors, with s bit of spicy hops, hints of smoke, dark fruits, vanilla and expresso. Long lasting, malty aftertaste.

M: overly thin body; very good carbonation. Both creamy and mildly (barely) harsh.

Overall: a respectable and interesting ASA with some nice resemblance to a Belgian Strong Ale. Excellent for price point. Improved a bit with warming.

 973 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.43/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in the snifter)
A- This beer pours a deep dense opaque brown with a rocky light tan head that last a good bit and a gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The soft dry woody hops note gives way to a black malt hint and some cream in the finish.

T- The pine resin hops leads to some dark caramel notes with a dry roasted malt hint mixed in. There is a soft sweetness in the finish that leads to a bitterness that lingers and becomes more pungent as the beer opens.

M- The medium mouthfeel has no alcohol heat and a tight little fizz.

O- There are some nice soft malt flavors but the bitterness overpowers it and makes it a bit tough to finish.

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Photo of AnEscapedMind
4.51/5  rDev +36.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of LXIXME
3.48/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A medium or slightly larger light brown to tan head dies into a big lacing above a clear dark reddish to off brown colored beer.

Light alcohol seems to undermine dark roasted malts, light darker spices, maybe raisins or dates, and an earthy grain aroma.

Watery dark fruits seem to overpower the lighter dark roasted grains coming through in the taste of this H.L.V.

A slightly wet aftertaste with a light dry wine taste lingering on with this mediumish bodied 7% alcohol beer.

A few different tastes coming through with this beer, at the price per 22 ounce bottle of this stuff its a very worthy try, although I don't think I'll make this my regular drink.

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Photo of Brenden
3.06/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

 796 characters

Photo of alesaram
4/5  rDev +21.2%

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a dark, rusty amber brown with a 2 finger head, excellent retention, and results in a lace that's thick and sticky.

Smell - Not a whole lot in the way of smell; somewhat earthy, with hints of copper.

Taste - Follows up with the smell. Very little flavor. What is there is metallic, with a dull copper character and a sharp bitterness that peaks well into the aftertaste. If there's any caramel character, it's very subtle, and only when the beer is near room temperature does the slightest hint peak through.

Mouthfeel - Despite the lack of flavor, the mouthfeel is solid. Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Fairly silky and smooth going down.

Overall - I really don't know what to say about this beer. It's drinkable, in the least. There's nothing much in terms of flavor to look forward to, so it's probably not going on my 'buy again' list.

 872 characters

Photo of BamfBacon
3/5  rDev -9.1%

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Boatswain H.L.V. Ale (Heavy Lift Vessel) from Rhinelander Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.3 out of 5 with 280 ratings