Prohibition Ale | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

very good
343 Reviews
Prohibition AleProhibition Ale

Brewed by:
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Prohibition Ale is the first beer we bootlegged back in 1997. Anything but traditional and now a GABF winning brew (2013–American Amber/Red Category), Prohibition pours a deep reddish amber hue, with a fluffy tan head that leaves a beautiful lacing on the glass. A lush, complex aroma teases the senses with juicy grapefruit, citrus, pine, spice and candied caramel malts. Mouth-feel is creamy, with a silky, medium body and modest carbonation.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-27-2002

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Reviews: 343 | Ratings: 964
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, CA.

Pours a clear copper with a foamy tan head that fades to nothing. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, citrus zest, and herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a malty finish. There is a medium herbal hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

nice relatively hoppy amber. the pour is deep brick red, clear though, with an inch of khaki head, foamy and lasting. it smells like dryer, but still semi sweet red malts, ale yeast, and a good dose of American west coast hops. the taste matches, yeasty for a red, and the best of both red worlds here, dry and clean, also sweet and rich, its a contrast but a good one. carbonated well, and very easy drinking, I would have guessed 4.5% abv, this is easy going. medium body and a hint of smoke. I don't know what is prohibition about this, it makes me want another. good not great, but aren't most of them? my first brew from speakeasy is good enough to make me want another, so good on them. on tap at renegade publik house.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this back in 2007 and haven't tried it since. From the recent reviews I'm seeing I may not try this one again since a lot of people seem displeased with some of the possible recipe changes. I suppose I should be glad I had it a while ago then I guess. The beer poured out as a nice looking amber color with a pretty decent head on top too. The smell of the beer was a little on the light side, there were some hop aromas and sweet malts in the mix also. The taste was pretty nicely balanced between the hops and the malts. The mouthfeel was drinkable and overall I thought it was a pretty good brew.

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Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high beige head that never completely faded away and left lacy patterns down the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderate aromas of citrus and pine resin hops in the nose; the pine resin stands out in particular.
T: As you would expect from the smell, there is a moderate amount of hop bitterness in the taste, which has flavors of caramel, grapefruit and orange. There are also some notes of malty sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and crisp on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is easy to drink and the taste is particularly well balanced as the malty sweetness helps to keep the hop bitterness in check.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer being my first introduction to the brewery. It is easy to expect an old-world type beer because of the name, but this proves to be a current-style Amber Ale, with only an old-school name. The beer pours a more-viscous-than-normal pint with tan head formation, laces well and retains well. Dark amber / ruby in color takes on the look of a winter warmer. Aromas of strong hops and malts swirl together, delivering caramel barley notes and citrus / pine character from the hops. Estery and spicy compliment the heavier malts and sharp hop flavor. A touch of toast, roasted grain, and chesnut flavors help to round out the sweetness. The beer feels heavy against the toung with more residual sweetness than needed, but not cloying. Finishes with a heavy malt / hop lingering. Good beer, but better attenuation would really have helped the beer.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle. There seems to be a spate of Prohibition-themed brews available of late - at least it looks like these guys have been doing it for a long while.

This beer pours a clear, dark red-brick amber hue, with three fat fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and bubbly beige head, which leaves some decent dispersing cloud pattern lace around the glass as it slowly sinks away.

It smells of biscuity, crackery, and toasted bready caramel malt, orange and grapefruit rind, musty pine needles, a dry oily nuttiness, and the suggestion of some burbling alcohol underneath it all. The taste is more grainy, toasty caramel malt, rather dry citrus peel notes - grapefruit, orange, and kiwi - pithy nuts, subtle pine forest floor detritus, and a certain flinty, almost metallic alcohol edge.

The carbonation is moderate in its goings-on, if a bit tightly frothy at times, the body punching in at a sturdy middleweight, and mostly smooth, but for a bit of stoney flintiness, one that I can no longer attribute to the booze. It finishes with a strong drying kick, the roasted character of the malt starting to show its collusion with the wets, er, I mean, the encroaching bitterness of the general public's wanton desire for all things hoppy.

A pleasant enough amber ale, the hops certainly doing their thing, and doing it well. Far be it from me, an avowed hop-head, to complain, but, ok, I'm also a fan of balance, and the way the malt showed up here, shook its frilly bits and bobs, and then left with the first goomba with a big, um bankroll, kind of bugs me. Stay and fight the good fight, ya coward! Anyways, a tasty affair, just somewhat underwhelming, right where it shouldn't be, y'know?

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Photo of kojevergas
2.49/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Served on-draught into a plastic cup at Speakeasy's decrepit warehouse - I mean brewpub. Reviewed from notes. Why does a brewery see fit to serve their beer into plastic cups? I may never know.

A: Pours a one finger head of fair cream and thickness, and okay retention. Colour is a dark copper.

Sm: Amber hops and other bittering hops. Perhaps too many hops for the balance? A decent aroma.

T: Amber hops and weak cream - that's it. It's simple garbage. Imbalanced and weak.

Mf: Smooth and wet. It suits the flavour okay, I guess. No real depth, layering, or complexity. It doesn't seem as though they tailored the texture to the taste at all.

Dr: Drinkable but low quality, and expensive at that. I wouldn't try it again if I had to pay for it. A disappointment from Speakeasy. As a side note, beer probably did taste this crappy during prohibition due to limited brewing methods.

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Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red-amber into a pilsner glass, leaving lots of irregular foam and lacing. There's a glossy, creme brulée sheen on the surface of the foam, which resembles whipped cream.

Smells like strong, fresh hops...grassy, piney, and citrusy.

This carries into the taste, which is accompanied by a toasted malt, that has a roasty, bitter finish. It's well hopped, but not overdone. Fairly approachable, seems like it would appeal to most palates, while remaining a creatively crafted ale.

Mouthfeel is smooth, carries a sense of round fullness that isn't heavy or thick. Would be easy to have several, it's a shame I only have one single.

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Photo of largadeer
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber in color, dark but beautifully clear, topped by an off-white head that retains at a half-inch cap for the duration of my glass.

The aroma is leafy, floral, faintly herbal - the hop character strikes me as a mix of noble and Northwestern varieties. Hard swirling brings out a touch of toasted malt, pine and a hint of caramel. The balance is right where I like it for amber ales; hop-forward and dry with a solid but understated malt foundation.

The taste lives up to the aroma, opening with an assertive but balanced hop flavor. Leafy, earthy, faintly floral hops support more subtle malt flavors of biscuit and caramel. There's a touch of sweetness mid-palate, but this is dry on the whole, and impressively balanced - it's flavorful in a rounded, nuanced way, with no single characteristic dominating the palate. Toast and a hint of coffee come out in the finish before the hops take over again, leading into a mild and pleasantly bitter finish.

It took me a while to get around to trying this, a few years in fact, but I'm glad I did. This is one of the better West Coast amber ales I can recall having.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Piscator34: Poured a clear deep amber color ale with a medium size foamy head with great retention and perfect lacing. Aroma of bitter hops is dominating with little malt discernable. Taste is also dominated by some deep bitter hops with a dry finish. I could not detect a lot of caramel malt as the label suggested. Body is quite full with some great carbonation.

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Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have enjoyed the other offerings I have had from Speakeasy for the most part Iam glad I have the chance to try this.Poured a clear deep bronze with a well formed craterous white head that left patches of lace behind as it settled,grapefruit rind really sticks out at first notice in the nose with some toastiness and caramel.An aggressive hop profile shows itself in this amber and thats nice but it doesnt have the nice complex malt base that the Lagutinas Tocaloma I just drank had the caramel is there but just not alot of character.A solid beer no doubt and I wouldnt turn it down by any means but there are better.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear with a very nice color - truly reddish with copper highlights; like a rich oiled mahogany. The beautiful body is topped by a foamy light-tan colored head that holds very well and leaves some really good lace. The aroma is bold: full of bright, citrusy, Pacific Northwest hops and some fruitiness; well-backed by a dark caramel maltiness. The body is medium light and the carbonation level is moderate. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy. The flavors starts with a bold hoppiness, then wrestles across the tongue with some gentle caramel malt, and eventually fades smoothly into a gently lingering malty & hoppy finish. At first I felt the mouthfeel could have been fuller, but with further thought I feel that the limited body helps to keep the flavors from becoming too full, and allows for a smooth finish without the hops getting hung-up in the throat. A very well done beer that probably deserves more recognition than it gets.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A: The beer is a light reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, roasted nuts, citrus and a decent amount of hops.

T: The taste is malty and sweet up front with flavors of caramel & citrus and a touch of smokiness. There's a nice complimentary hops presence that provides a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this a nice beer with some substance that is worth pounding for a while.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Good Beer in New York, NY

A: Pours a clear medium amber in color with moderate amounts of visible carbonation and some light ruby red highlights. The beer has a finger tall foamy beige head that slowly reduces to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a couple of small thicker patches and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of citrus/grapefruit pith and pine hops over a moderate caramel malt body.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramel malts with light to moderate amounts of sweetness. That is followed by light to moderate flavors of citrus/grapefruit pith, citrus/orange, and pine hops which contribute a moderate amount of bitterness which lingers.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Crisp.

O: Fairly well balanced between the sweetness of the malts and the bitterness of the hops so that neither really dominates the palate. Pretty easy to drink and enjoyable.

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Photo of mactrail
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Coppery amber in the tall chalice. The taste is a surprise-- there's so much of it. Best feature is the rich nutty taste, like browned hazelnuts. The hops are big and aromatic, and play nicely with they malt. Kind of a Pilsener sharp, hoppy flavor with a rich dose of that nutty malt.

Fairly coarse carbonation. Watery body. Lots of hops and a bitter aftertaste. Big pleasant quaff and a flavor-filled mouthful. 22 oz bottle from Mega Liquors in Hemet, Calif.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dusky amberish orange, clear as a bell. Perhaps the slightest suggestion of red when backlit with morning sunlight. The ecru head has a sticky consistency and deposits a fair amount of lace in broken sheets. The aroma is of lemon and grapefruit with an undercurrent of fresh pine. This is my kind of nose, I just hope the flavor follows suit.

It's a little thinner in the mouth than expected and is a little less of a flavor bomb. I have to remind myself that it's 'only' an APA, despite what the appearance and aroma would have me believe. There's a lightly toasted pale maltiness, but citric hops rule the roost. They impart quite a bit of flavor with little actual bitterness. Decent body for a pale ale, but just a bit too fizzy. I was hoping that the bubbles would settle down by the bottom of the bottle, but they haven't.

Prohibition Ale is a solid version and is my slight preference over this brewery's Untouchable Pale Ale. A calmer mouthfeel would be welcome, but it's good beer all the same. I always like to see silk-screened bottles and Speakeasy's are usually well done.

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Photo of smcolw
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very clear with a dark amber (dirty copper) color. Modest head but it leaves nice head on the glass.

Creamy with some mid-colored malt aroma. Mild hop in the background providing some balance.

Far more hoppy than the aroma would indicate. Solid malt base providing a rich body. Neutral carbonation. The hop is bitingly bitter without the typical spicy notes. The aftertaste is long-lasting and lip-smackingly dry.

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Photo of Jason
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Presentation: 12 oz brown long neck bottle with a silk-screen painted on label, devious eyes are on the neck and a shady looking couple are looking for a real "Speakeasy". No freshness date to be found.

Appearance: Very deep and dark reddish amber hue, a well observed clarity shows that the beer has some carbonation left after a semi-vigorous pouring that left an unwavering light tan cake like head in its wake.

Smell: Intense hop aroma with a bold caramel malt to keep it in check. Oily hop of fresh pine, tree bark and grapefruit rind in the nose, straight-up sweet malt aroma pokes through with hints of dark caramel and toasted biscuits. Handful of fruity esters gives off a mild fig and raisin aroma.

Taste: Muscular medium body, crisp flavor with a smooth mouth feel. Carbonation is at a moderate level, hops circle around the malt as it plays around with the flavor. Suggestions of pumpernickel, caramel and toasted biscuit show how deep the complexity can get with this ale. Fruitiness is fresh and is doubled with a mild warming alcohol, tastes of pears and raisins. Pungent hops stay dominant but do not strangle the malt in anyway, the pungency varies from pine and spruce to grapefruit and peppery herbal flavors. The actual hop bitterness is sizable and puckers the palate. Caramel seems to push to the finish as well as the toasted flavor which shows a borderline roasted character, the hop bitterness is everlasting.

Notes: An elaborate multi-leveled complexity that jumps from hops to malt several times and touches upon the fruity esters as well, beefy in the hops and a perfectly level malt that leaves everything in balance to a point. A must try, this is what beer is about.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark amber color, almost brown, with beige head. Aroma is mostly caramel and malts but there is some earthy hop character too. More hops on the taste, mostly earthy and piney. Some caramel sweetness too but on the finish and aftertaste it gets quite bitter. Body is soft but has an abrasive carbonation. Overall it's a well made, classic style amber ale.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was inspired, yesterday, on a Snow Day at the high school where I teach English/ Communications Arts, to drink the Speakeasy oeuvre and imagine myself as writing the reviews during Prohibition. I am currently reading "Chicago Noir", which serves as further inspiration and this is really the beer that I should have started with, but I will make sure that it all blends seamlessly into a cohesive narrative. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, allow me to journey on a flight of fancy, courtesy of Speakeasy Ales & Lagers and my local speakeasy, The Fridge, to the misguided period of U. S. history known as Prohibition.

From the bottle: "Legit Since 1997"; "Demand Prohibition"; "Hand Crafted Amber Ale"; "Prohibition Ale is a boldly hopped amber ale that strikes a perfect balance between caramel maltiness and its aggressive hopping."; "Independently owned & operated".

The Old Lady and I rolled up to the door, marked with a blindfolded tiger, rapped twice, and when the peephole slid open to reveal two inquisitive eyes, I whispered the day's password, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and the door swung open to allow us to enter. I sauntered up to the bar with The Doll on my arm, slinky and feline as ever. Bottles were proffered and accepted so I popped the caps and began the pour for us. My aggro pour really bothers The Old Lady for some reason, but since it was my tab, it was my call. Prohibition never looked so good! There was a pseudo-cascade, followed by the creation of slightly better than two fingers of dense, light-tan head with great retention. Color was a deep reddish-orange (SRM = > 22, < 27) with NE-quality clarity, but we were in PA, so it was almost time to wet our whistles. Nose evinced an interesting admixture of grapefruit and caramel and my mouth was beginning to water. The Old Lady was tugging at my sleeve, anxious to get started, as she always seems to be. Mouthfeel was very soft, almost as if it were flat (which it definitely was NOT), but it really allowed the hops and malt to shine. The citrus hops feinted and jabbed and then the malt hit with a nice 1-2 punch on the tongue. This led to a cool finish, semi-dry as the hops asserted themselves, especially on the extreme finish. If this was Prohibition, I know that I will be staying for a while!

My original, on-tap review was dtd 06-24-2010 with scores of 4; 3.5; 4.5; 3.5 and 4 follows:

Ah, the benefits of being back in The City ... They are legion, but being able to find Speakeasy beers on draft has to rank among them. From notes, taken July 2009.

This arrived with a finger of off-white head with decent retention. Nose was slightly caramel-ish. Color was a deep copper with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium with a malty, caramel taste on the tongue. Finish was mild, not sweet at all. AmeriCAN Amber/Red Ale?!? This was much more like a classic English Pale Ale, IMHO. Well done and totally unexpected!

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Photo of vfgccp
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A – Maple amber with a nice red hue. Low off-white head. Low lace.

S – Thin but surprisingly complex. Medium roast malt and hazelnut. Nutmeg. Brown sugar / molasses sweetness.

T – Hazelnut throughout the profile. Sweet toffee, caramel and toast. Soft bitterness in the background.

M – Medium body is thin in the middle. Caramel finish.

O – Nice nutty character.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Red Rocks in Alexandria, Virginia. Split with hobbie100.

This beer appears dark brown with tinges of crimson. This ale is quite malt forward, with pleasant fruit notes. The beer tastes like it is bigger than 6.1% abv, but not necessarily in a negative way. The feel is medium-bodied, with healthy level of carbonation. It goes down pretty smoothly. I could see myself having this again.

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Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, no freshness indication given. Pours orangy medium amber, moderate light tan head and leaves respectable and stringy lacing. Nose is honey maple malty. This is a fairly dry APA, nice mouthfeel, coating, medium bodied and smooth over the tongue. Balance is in evidence here, as this is an easy drinking ale. No complaints.Nothing special, just a better then average, pleasant to quaff, BA worthy brew

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Photo of GClarkage
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12/05/05- Purchased at Piazza's Market in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 12oz cool lithographed bottle. No freshness info though. Poured into my Englander pint glass.

Appearance- Darker amber colored pour, nice 3/4 inch head which a nice light ring remains throughout. Spotty lace abounds.

Smell- Floral and piney hops are everywhere. Also a darker caramel malt scent is present.

Taste- One of the darkest malt tastes I've had in a pale ale. Not quite smokey, but has some burnt characteristics. Very bitter hops smack you in the face as well. All pine flavored. Very dry and bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Almost feels a bit watery with the dry malt and dry hop taste. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability- A touch too bitter for me, not really anything to carry the flavor. Kinda thin.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours a medium to dark reddish amber with a half finger off-white head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of bready malt and the citrus and floral influence of Centennial and Cascade hops. Flavor of citrus and floral hops, neutral malt and light citrus rind. Finishes with citrus bitterness. Nice medium creamy body. A nicely made red ale that seemed a hair balanced towards the hops than malt, but the creamy body made up for it. Lingering citrus hop bitterness. Enjoyable, but somehow I think prohibition ales weren't quite this tasty.

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Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
3.84 out of 5 based on 964 ratings.
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