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Geary's Hampshire Special Ale | D.L. Geary Brewing Company

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385 Reviews
Geary's Hampshire Special AleGeary's Hampshire Special Ale

Brewed by:
D.L. Geary Brewing Company
Maine, United States

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Once Maine’s legendary seasonal specialty, Hampshire is now available year round. Hampshire has a huge toasted malt flavor balanced by assertive hoppiness. The finish is long and lingering with the malt and hop notes blending with alcohol warmth. Original gravity - 1070; alcohol by volume - 7%; two row English malts (pale, crystal and chocolate); Cascade, Mt. Hood and East Kent Golding hops.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-30-2001

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Reviews: 385 | Ratings: 629
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spying this in Richmond for the first time in Richmond, I immediately thought of JohnnyP and his raves about this beer. The BA whose name is on the BA.com shirt sings the praises of this beer? How can I go wrong? A 6-pack was thus purchased...

Presentation: 12oz. squat amber bottle with a plain label and no freshness dating.

Appearance: Poured a crystal-clear deep orangish-copper in color with a thick and pasty white lace that distinctly rings the glass.

Smell: Wow...this is one complex beer. All sorts of scents tip-toe across the nose. Lots of spices, fruits, alcohol, caramel, surgary-sweetness. The neat thing with this one is that nothing dominates the profile. Very well-balanced.

Taste: Again, the emphasis is on "balanced". Complex? You betcha. But, like the smell, nothing jumps out at you. Instead, each flavor takes its turn at center-stage, standing in the spotlight for a moment then fading into the background. Malty sweetness, granny smith apples, caramelized brown sugar, a bit of alcohol, bitterness, all combine nicely to provide a great-tasting beer.

Mouthfeel: Decent carbonation. Full body. Creamy smooth on the palate.

Drinkability: JohnnyP was right. A very nice beer for the holidays. Let it snow! I have some set aside to age and can't wait to see what happens to this beer over time.

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Photo of beyah
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12oz. bottle into a Britsh pint glass.

A - Deep copper color, about 1 finger of white head, excellent lacing.

S - Biscuity, Ringwood Yeast, eastery.

T - Hops bitterness, Ringwood Yeast, slight alcohol warmth, very well balanced.

M - Buttery Smooth, light carbonation, very drinkable.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Into a pint glass:

A: dark brown colored body with a big beautiful one inch white foamy head that wants to spill over the pint glass no matter how careful you try to pour it, decent lacing

S: dominating pale malts, hops remain in the background

T: previously mentioned flavors with darker malts coming through, slight yeastiness

M: medium to heavy, borderline sessionable, noticeable coating of the tongue, sticky malty aftertaste and finish

O: always love this one by Geary's, good for the style and good for me.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

This pours from 12oz bottle a clear medium gold with a 2 finger head of foam.

The smell is very malty and very nice. I also get a fruity nose that makes it a pleasure to sniff.

The taste has big caramel malt, dark fruit, some grain, and a surprisingly ample but not overpowering hop presence in the background that adds just the right touch to somewhat balance it out but to tell you the truth, I'm enjoying the hell out of the malt. Nice bit of bready notes here as well and the alcohol is completely hidden, asaic. Lovely drop!
It has a fairly thick mouthfeel(yeah!), the carbonation is medium light, and it finishes malty semi sweet. Again...lovely drop! Oh, and the foam hangs around like forever. I'm *really* impressed with this English Strong Ale and I'd seek it out again.

Thanks again, John!

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Photo of nkersten
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Great color, dark orange/amber with an off white head that sticks around, decent lacing too.
S- Smell is toffee malts, bread, some spice, and a bit of fruity hops.
T- Good malt flavor, not too sweet, some clove and banana probably from the yeast and hop bitterness to back it all up. Hardly any alcohol in the taste.
M- Light carbonation and medium body, coats my mouth a little bit.
D- Very drinkable beer. I am not terribly familiar with the style, but this is easy to drink and very tasty.

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Photo of ghostwalker
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Body is copperish brown. Huge frothy head with great retention.

Nose is biscuity malt, yeasty with a touch of butteriness.

Flavor is really tasty. Much like a bitters or ESB, but with much more flavor than most. Biscuit malt forms the solid backbone. Tangy hops on the finish. The huge head, that has yet to subside, is distinctly sweet. There is even a hint, perhaps, of some citrus.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy.

Drinkability is tops. I love the British style brews, and this one is a new favorite.

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Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bwst beer hands down for me while in Maine,pours a rich golden color with a slight red tint,not much head to it but what there was left some real nice lace.Rich is the word I use to describe this beer in color,aroma,and mostly flavor very malty and whiskyish and of dried fruit for a malt maven or whatever u wanna call it this to me is a perfect or near perfect beer,rich and warming a great winter beer.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on November 1, 2013.

The color is mahogany brown with a little gold glistening around the edge of the glass. Moderate, lingering cream colored head.

The aroma is lovely with its full roasted caramel malts, molasses notes, yeast, butterscotch, nuttiness, and finishing off with a mild earthy hop.

The body is medium to full.

The taste has an upfront roasted malt and caramel sweetness and a wonderfully lingering dry finish. Only 7% yeah, but some Strong Ales still have a boozy feel but not this one. Geary's has hit the mark on the style. It really feels like I'm drinking it at a British pub rather than at m y computer in New Hampshire USA.

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Photo of MattyRobots
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a beautiful pour. With the yellow label I was not expecting the dark amber pour. head was creamy eggshell, 3/4 inch. Dissipated quickly, but not quickly enough to keep me from getting that great creamy first sip through it. Soft grass and citrus in the nose, with definite caramel maltiness. velvety mouth feel and orange peel flavor fade into a delicious fresh grass and faint alcohol on the exhale. My favorite Geary's for sure.

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Photo of scarletfire79
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

one of the most drinkable beers i've ever had. i don't want to put it down. pours dark amber brown with a frothy white head. great staying power, decent lacing. definitly picking up some fruity notes in the nose, sweet like honey. the taste is balanced, mellow, malty, hoppy, i could go on. just very nice. i'm sorry i didn't pick this up sooner. kind of like a barleywine junior. good beer.

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Photo of direwolf00
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picking the the dozen or so Maine beers I've tasted in last 2 weeks, Geary Hampshire Special & Allagash Monmouth Red were the best.

Very pleasantly surprised at the uniqueness of this beer. Next time I'll buy a 6 pack.

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Photo of yelterdow
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served at just over fridge temperature in an imperial pint glass. Big thanks to Andy's in Bogota for hosting Geary's debut in NJ, this tasting was shared with EPseja the next day.

Appearance- Pours a fiery copper red, the head even carries with it an orange luminescence. A tornado effect is happening inside the glass... great action. The crown settles from about two fingers down to a finger that stays throughout. Bubbles are tightly packed, a real nice looking beer.

Smell- Wow... perfumy fruits and malts right off the bat, conceding to a sweet, bubble gum character that may be a result of the Belgian candi sugar aromas. Is it peaches, or some other tree fruit I'm getting here? It's not quite tropical, but it's luscious and full. Eric mentioned honeysuckle, and I realize that's exactly the description I was looking for.

Taste- Big fruitiness, amazing biscuity malts, and a dry hop bitterness that really dazzles... the English character with its crisp, mineraly elements does wonders for this beer. The alcohol briefly appears towards the center/back of the tongue, disappearing just in time for the swallow.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- It's tingly in the beginning, but at the same time it's soapy and slick. Great body, and the drinkability is... well, "dangerous" as Michael Jackson once said. At 7%, this is superbly crafted and round.

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Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz semi-fat brown with a gold foil twisty. Winter 01-02 on bottle to denote what year it was brewed for.

Appearance: Rich copper colour with light brownish highlights, a healthy off white lace wraps the inside of the glass with ample stickiness.

Smell: Soft caramel and toasted malt biscuit and bread with a dash of buttery toffee. Honey and a currant and berry mix for fruitiness. Light twinge of ester alcohol in the nose.

Taste: Smooth upfront with a light to moderate carbonation. Certainly full in body with a vague polished buttery feeling. Large and jam-packed with malt flavours of toasted and caramel. Diacetyl is significant yet not to the point of being out of balance. The warming alcohol brings forth fruitiness and esters to round this big profile out. Hints of dark honey and light berry fruit add to the complexity. Hop bitterness drops a great leveling flavour and oily herbal character. Caramel and grain in the finish with overtones of diacetyl.

Notes: Year after year this one is a sure thing for winter seasonals, bitterness seems a step up this year which is fine considering all of the malt flavour to deal with.

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Photo of caddybuyer
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle with no date into a Chimay Chalice.

A-Beautiful copper color with filtered clarity. Eggshell head that settles fairly rapidly. If this could sustain a head it would be one of the most attractive beers I have sampled lately.

S-This smells nearly Belgian. Dark fruits, yeast and caramel malt, a heady aroma indeed, and it still is pretty cold from the fridge.

T-Sweet figs, plums, raisins, brown sugar and malts start the palate, which is a slightly buttery full bodied flavor with detectable alcohol present. Hops kick in mid palate, and finish with a bitter end note that lasts forever. This is an amazingly complex beer and reminds me a bit of Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA. What a brew.

M-Ample carbonation rounds out a perfect, slightly sticky mouthfeel.

D-I'd say this is a pretty drinkable beer, it tastes "bigger" than the stated ABV, and that makes it much more managable. Gee, I'm done, and I'm really wanting another.

This, hands down, is the best beer I have tried from Geary's. It reminds me of a Chimay Red combined with a Sierra Nevada wet hop ale. Just super, and a bargain to boot, for what it is.

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Photo of hyuga
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark orange brew with a whitish head that goes down quickly to a thin ring. Leaves a small amount of lace behind.

Aroma of sweetened toast and gingerbread maltiness. Hints of caramel sweetness. Sweet, but with just enough hops to say "I'm crisp! Drink me!"

I must say, I'm very impressed with the malt character in this beer! Just perfect! Caramel maltiness with bready undertones. Definitely buttery. Spicy hops kick around to liven things up a bit. Bitterness creates an amazing crispness. Alcohol makes the tongue tingle and warms you.

Crisp, crisp, crisp! Crisp and clean mouthfeel from the great combination of malt and hop.

Wow, amazingly drinkable. I think this is my favorite of the Geary's beers. I think this would be my perfect session beer. Its maltiness is kind of reminiscent of an Oktoberfest beer's. I love it! Can't wait to get more!

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Photo of jdmorgan
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This strong English ale poured an amber brown into an English pint glass.

The smell was light, with some slight malt aroma. There were some notes of fruitiness as well as some balanced hop flavor. I found the taste to begin with a sweet maltiness with a pleasant hop flavor. The two blended very well and finished with a full body and medium hop bitterness. The consistency was medium and so was the carbonation.

This ale surprised me, and I found it to be full of flavor, excellent in balance, and very drinkable. This would make a good session ale, despite it's high ABV. I'll be buying this again.

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Photo of Darkale
4.48/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark copper clear body with a thick, bone-colored head that is rocky and resilient. Very good lacing.

Yeasty and sweet mix in the aroma. Faint but pleasant.

Taste is smooth, maple syrupy, with a slight, almost English-ale-like sourness at the end. Chewy and sweet in the mouth. Delicious.

This is a very sweet, full, rich, and ungodly drinkable beer. I put away four of these on a Sunday afternoon before I knew what I was doing. A special ale, certainly, and a new favorite for me.

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

They still sell it in Shaw's (local supermarket)!! I picked it up last night and brought it home. Cracked one while cooking dinner. Nice white head. I tasted those great hops with the first sip. Then the bitterness. This is the best seasonal beer. I anticipate "when the weather sucks" so I can drink it. I have been known to hold on to six packs of this into August.

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Photo of edchicma
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mmmmmmm...Beautifully rounded brew...Hoppy and malt aromas invite you to savor this brew. A beautiful dark copper with a small head...color alone suggests rounded balance. Taste is nice and hoppy but with enough of a malt reminder to round out the mouthfeel. Slight aftertaste reminds you it is 7% ABV. Extremely drinkable...the only worry I have is that it is so rounded and smooth that I might be tempted to drink too many, but is that really a problem?

Note: I tried this off the shelf in August 2003...As it is a seasonal brew, I have to add that it certainly held its character beyond the March date mentioned on the brewer's website. By the way, there was no date on my bottle.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper color with steady carbonation. It forms a creamy off-white head that leaves sheets of lacing. The aroma is of sweet caramel malts, with a honey and breadiness. It has a slight bit of alcohol is the aroma too, kinda like a bit of rum cake.

The flavor is of caramel malts and honey as well. It has a slight toastiness and breadiness too. There is slight hop spiciness, but the caramel malt play through more. It is sweet at first, but then immediately turns drying for the remainder of the sip.

It is smooth and almost creamy, but drying as well. An interesting feel. It masks the 7% well. I wish I had another....I would love to try this fresh. Very nice. Thanks Paulie.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper color with streams of carbonation surfacing at a nice clip. Thin muddy looking brown head adorns the top and dwindles down to a collaring within a minute. Lacing is spotty, but nice. The aroma is quite nice. A thick malt presence blends with some sweet fruity tones. Toffee and caramel apple. And then there's also some nuttiness, wood and a little smoke. Nice blend. Some alcohol hits my palate first. A bit of a sting, but not out of character in the context of this beer. It blends nicely with the wooden barrel character and slight smoke I find in this beer. The malts make their presence known with caramel, toffee, biscuit and a little toasted character. I like the sweet aspect of this beer. Candied apple comes to mind. Not cloying in the least. Just delicious.

I do not know if there is a bigger advocate of one beer than JohnnyP and this one. I thank my lucky stars (and JohnnyP) I had a chance to try it (and cellar one).

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Photo of Lupe
4.52/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich copper topped with a healthy off white head. Great retention and lots of sticky lace left behind lace.

Hoppy aroma with citrus and spice. Sweetness enters the nose after the hops, adding caramel, honey, and biscuit malt.

Starts off spicy with lots of hops - herbal with some citrus and spice. Malt sweetness kicks in some caramel and toffee, honey, toasted bread, and a distinct fruitness. Alcohol does not show at all. Awesome combination of hops and malt. At times very hoppy and then bursting with malty goodness, with a seamless transition. Delicious.

Full bodied, smooth and rich. Mild carbonation fits the beer well. Great drinkability - really leaves you wanting more. A top notch beer.

Big thanks to charlesw for sending this my way in Beer Powerball.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.54/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to SheepNutz for providing me this beer in a trade. It pours a deep amber to slightly deep red in color. The head starts about a finger high, but falls to just ring the top with sparse cover. What a nose. I love malt and I love hops. This give me the best of both worlds. The malt is giving me caramel with a rich toffee, almost buttery tone as well. The hops blend really well into the malt, but I get some citrusy notes from those. Very rich flavor, like a super rich caramel floods my taste buds. There is a fantastic hop bitterness dncing on my tongue after swallowing the beer. Good good and good. The beer is thick, but not as thick as I would have expected. This is a trade-off in my book, as it increases the drinkability. For the full flavor, this beer is very drinkable. Just a good beer.

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.55/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a clear medium amber with ruby in the center and orange around the fringe. Head was a good two fingers of thick foam but dissipated quickly to a large bubbled froth. As always with Geary's and other similar breweries out of Portland I get no lacing, no remaining head, and a dead looking ale after a while. It ends up looking like I'm drinking iced tea. I would have to say the body/color puts it above "okay" but the liveliness or lack thereof really affects it and makes it dull.

S - Deep nutty aroma, with toffee and caramel malt notes, lots of fruity-ness as well as diacetyl, butter, biscuit, slight metallic character, and slight warming alcohol. No discernible hops, smells on par with the style and very approachable.

T - Taste is a complex deep nutty toffee malt character, loads of toasty bread and biscuit. Lots of buttery/diacetyl/ringwood yeast flavor dominates the finish, however is balanced well with the malt character and compliments it instead of overpower it. Good bite of bitter hops with lingering butter and toffee notes finish it off. To me the taste is perfect for the style.

M - Thick with low carb, a little hot at the end, slightly rough. This to me is a slow sipper, one to savor the nuances of the malt character that is deep and delicious.

O - Very English and very Portland. No matter how many newer more inventive breweries pop up in this state, the old school open fermented "Yorkshire" inspired ales with ringwood yeast in my opinion are sort of the foundation of Maine brewing, and Gear's HSA to me is some sort of the Pièce de résistance. A decadent deluge of English inspired flavor done in the old world style.

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Photo of StevieW
4.56/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Shiny clear, copper color, rich golden tinged bubbly foam filled beige head. Fills an American pint glass perfectly with an full 2 inch head. A beauty to behold, a visually striking beer.
Rich full aromos of candied apples, carmel, and rum soaked cherries. Very fresh and seasonal. First taste combines the seasonal sweetness with a sharp bitter hop snap. Bitterness is super smooth and well matched with the fruit filled finish. Clean and crisp flavor combinations nothing lingers, except an urge to have another sip. Hints of butterscotch are noticed, but not in a negative way at all. This beer is medium bodied, lighter than I expected. I have it as a cross between a Geary's Halloween Ale, A Celebration Ale, and maybe the perfect ESB, but it is listed as a Strong/Old Ale. This beer grabs your attention and keeps it. Incredibly easy to drink, I am shocked my glass is already finished. I expected this to be along the lines of an Anchor OSA, but it is more toward a Celebration Ale in body without the fresh piney hop presence. But make no mistake this is a taste all it's own and very much worth seeking out. I need to get more of this, somebody please visit Florida with a suitcase full of it. Cheers to JohnnyP for the sample, I can see how he raves about this one. This is no mere beer, this one recieves my highest compliment...
Magic in a glass !

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Geary's Hampshire Special Ale from D.L. Geary Brewing Company
3.93 out of 5 based on 629 ratings.
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