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

very good
386 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: 386 | Ratings: 631
Photo of JoKo
3.87/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Half an inch thick white head that dissipated quickly. The beer is cloudy and dark copper in color.

Smell: Piney hop smell up front, rather pleasant.

Taste: Very crisp, citrus, pine. The malt sweetness comes out more in the aftertaste. The hops are robust, but they aren't as prominent as in an IPA

Mouth feel: Bold, full-bodied, the carbonation is moderate.

Drink ability: Being full bodied, this beer probably would be very filling after 2 or more. Although it is filling, this beer is most definitely enjoyable. I thought that the balance between malts and hops was well done.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with a good sized head although it doesn't leave much for lacing.

Smell is pretty much all caramel malt with some muted spiciness.

Taste is a kick, strong caramel malt front, slight spiciness, a fair amount of heat coming from this beer but not enough to distract.

I've had this on-tap and in bottle form, on-tap kicks the bottles rear, but I went with a bottle review since that is how most people will get to experience HSA.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a stubby 12-ounce bottle into a Pig's Eye Pub pint glass.

A: Pours a very rich copper color with ruby and brown highlights when held to the light. Very sparse carbonation bubbles beneath the one-finger head of sudsy foam.

S: Smell is fruity, malty and not without it's hints of alcohol. A light berry and citrus aroma rises together with caramel and ethyl alcohol.

T: Taste is smooth, bitter and slightly sweet. The slightly creamy blend contains well blended, roasted caramel malts, orange peel and a bit of grape skin with an herbal hop resin to it. Of course, that ringwood lurks beneath the whole brew, hidings in its alcoholic shadows.

M: Mouthfeel is quite full and mildly creamy.

D: A very heavy brew to session, but 2 or 3 is likely the max for one session. A full array of flavors, an ABV of 7% and some mysterious ingredients make this a tasty and dangerously drinkable brew.

I had this last night and have quite the headbanger today. Must be the higher ABV, but I think that ringwood came back to bite me in the ass. Drinker's beware, when Geary's says special, they really mean "special." A very good beer.

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Photo of oldhippie247
3.36/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper hue with a slightly off-white head. Though head is nice and fluffy and lingers, no lacing is left on the glass.

Even at just below room temperature the nose is quite muted. Malty sweetness with a lightly funky earthiness is noticeable with a little effort.

Mouthfeel is nice and rich, but flavors fall a little flat. I think I was expecting something a little closer to a barleywine, while it drinks more like a slightly-above-average-strength amber.

Despite an overall non-impressive nose and a less than stellar palate, this is a good beer for those looking for something easy to drink but with a little more alcohol.

Easy to drink and well-priced are it's big attributes to me.

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Photo of Yeastcakes
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving notes: Hefe glass, cellar temp
Aroma: Dark fruit-hop-spice notes.
Appearance: Nice inch head, dissipates to quarter inch. Clear amber in color.
Mouthfeel: Nice full mouthfeel, light carbonation.
Taste: Alcohol, raisins, grapefruit (I may be reaching on that one). Nice complexity of flavors that makes swirling it around worthwhile.
Drinkability: While not a session beer, I could easily have two of these and would get this one as a beer for a cold winter night.

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Photo of DIM
3.87/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a: This was a slightly hazy, ruddy orange color. I couldn't coax much of a head out of this one.

s: Sweet toffee along with a little caramel. A little dark fruits like raisins perhaps and a surprising hit of floral, spicy heat.

t: That sweet toffee dominates here as well. I also got some raisins and spices (coriander?). As this warmed I got some nice warmth for such a low abv.

m: This felt under carbonated and a bit thin.

d: I'd never heard of this until a buddy handed me one. Very nice stuff.

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Photo of ShrLSU
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep copper with a thin white rim of foam. Settling left a slight bit of lacing around the glass. The nose is very malty. A little bit of breadiness and some hop sweetness. The taste is very malty, with some caramel sweetness. There is a definite bread taste as well. Overall this was an interesting beer and worth a shot.

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Photo of ryrust5301
3.56/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Golden orange in color. Very thin but ample head with a moderate amount of lacing.

Smell - Deep sweet malt with a faint fruitiness. Besides that I couldn't really pick up much else.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Wow is this one sweet! Huge malt and honey sweetness give it a deep body. Apple accounts for some of the fruit flavor, but can't quite put my finger on the others. Very creamy and full in the mouthfeel, making it very easy to drink.

Drinkability - A little to sweet for my taste, but a very good stab at the strong ale style. Quite a nice offering.

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Photo of matty
3.59/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber colored beer with rapidly fading head.Aroma is dark fruit.Taste is dark fruit,caramel and toffee.This is one of the most aromatic beers I've had in awhile.Taste and smooth,you cannot tell this beer is 7% from just taste alone.I would recommend and purcahse again!!

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Geary's- Hampshire Special Ale

A- Deep clear amber with a huge frothy head. Good chunky lacing.
S- Sweet buttery toffee with hints of vanilla and oak?
T- Big buttery toffee malt with a creamy vanilla touch. Chewy bready malt dominates with slight earthy woodsy tones in the back half.
M- Thick and buttery. Huge malt with a slight metallic alc. tinge.

Overall- Big buttery and sweet make this a bit cloying. alc., eventually, smoothes out.

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Photo of JayNH
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep clear copper. Not much of a head.

S-Bready, slightly sweet and fruity. Mild alcohol scent and a hint of the sour green apple.

T- Starts a little sweet and finishes with a nice hoppiness. Very well balanced.

M-Moderately carbonated, smooth and full bodied.

D- excellent, a very nice offering from Geary's.

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Photo of BDIMike
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a copper color with a brown tint in a darker light. There is a slight bit of carbonation that creates a thin lace of a white head.
Smell is really nice for an English strong ale. Normally the smell is not as pronounced for this style. However, there are good strong malts of toffee and also a strong hop hit of fresh citrus.
Taste is one of the best I have had of this style. There is an unbelievable balance of malt and hops. The hop taste starts strong with really nice citrus tastes. It balances with a good caramel and toffee malt. There is also a bit of alcohol taste that comes through, but it is a nice amount.
Mouthfeel is very nice and smooth. Great thickness, but incredibly smooth.
Drinkability is excellent on this beer. For all of the strong tastes and flavors in this beer, they all balance very nicely and compliment each other. So smooth and drinkable this is a great beer for the style, probably the best I have ever had.

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Photo of bbothen
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper like color with a bubbly 2 finger deep off white head.

Smells of sweet malts, slight spiciness, fruity.

Smeet caramel maltiness, fruitiness, raisin, tartness, hoppy bitterness, warming alcohol.

Smooth, moderate carbonation, medium bodied.

Nice cold weather warmer. Good flavor. Enjoyable brew. Wish I had access to this & others from Geary's.

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Photo of daliandragon
4.07/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's always nice to try a new English strong ale just because you don't see that many of them, at least not down here in Carolina. This one pours a handsome dark copper color with crystal clarity and a thin off white cap. The nose is very heavy on the caramel malt with some light fruit, maybe pears in the background.

The caramel malt carries this one but there is a little bit of balance in the sip and in the finish. There is a toasted, buttery note to this and despite the abv, not a wisp of alcohol. There are some fruit elements here as well, although it's not exactly a Belgian or a barleywine.

This has a high drinkability, especially considering the 7% factor. This might be my favorite of Geary's thusfar.

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Photo of mynie
4.19/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

English Strong and American Old are two of the most underrated ales in the American beer scene, in my humble opinion. They share a lot of traits. Lots of intense maltiness--just as impressive, complex, and hard on the novices as intense malt profiles. We like hop bombs and things that taste like bourbon. Any other kind of intensity is not our cup of tea.

Pours limply, according to my low-malt prejudices. Maybe in another world, a world where Hello means Goodbye and Cheeri-o is a greeting, this is what a great pour looks like. Here, it's just kinda pretty but headless.

Smells like a wonderful potpourri of wood and malt and furniture polish and burny chemical yeast. Canned flowers are in there. Nice smells of synthetic nature. If Eraserhead was a beer it would smell like this.

Tastes much like it smells. Big, giantic caramel starts things off. This moves into a woodier back, generic fruit and flowers, and this swings pretty quickly back into caramel with some nuts and then a sweet aftertaste of burny alcohol.

Nice. Not everybody's cup of tea, but nice.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautifully clear reddish amber with a frothy off white head that dissipates quickly. Smells of alcohol and a bit of floral and perfume, some sweet malt in there bread and biscuit. Really great nose. Taste is sweet malt up front some toffee and caramel. With some alcohol and hop bitterness mid to finish. Some raisins or dried fruits in there too. Medium to thick body. A syrupy oily mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Great Strong ale, if not a touch sweet. Not cloying, but a little sweet.

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Photo of thryn
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours a very clear amber with about a finger of creamy head that settles to a couple millimeters of creamy foam atop the ale.

Smell is biscuity malt and a noticeable floral hops presence. Some alcohol, a bit of fruit -- plum, maybe, and the vaguest hint of banana? I want to dive right in.

I take a sip -- oh, hey, this has some alcohol in it! There's also that bready character, and the hops offer a bittering finish that's nice, but there's less going on here on the palate than in the nose. The alcohol is bit too dominant against flavors that are actually fairly subtle. As it warms, this improves, with the biscuity and fruity flavors emerging a bit more.

Mouthfeel is clean but not too light, with a low carbonation but not flat.

Drinkability improves, with taste, as it warms.

I expected more of this beer and while I am not usually turned off by a strong alcohol presence, it's somehow a bit too much in this beer. If I was freezing my tuchus off in Maine, I might have a different opinion ...

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Photo of prototypic
3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I believe this bottle came from ampzilla. Thanks, Andrew.

Appearance: It pours a clear, darker copper color. It's topped with a vanilla colored head that stands about a finger and a half tall. It receded relatively quickly and left a decent coat of lace behind.

Smell: The nose is good, but a little lacking in strength. It's malty and sweet initially. There's a healthy bit of dark fruits in there. It smells like plum and a bit of prune. Smells like a little orange peel and perhaps some other spices are present. There's some hops in there. They're mostly floral and earthy. It's actually a little complex, but it's just a little weak. It's definitely enough to intrigue me.

Taste: The nose is surprisingly fruity and sweet. There's some apple and pear flavors initially. They're equally as strong as the plum and prune flavors that follow, if not moreso. It's definitely got a nice caramel/toffee malt base. There's some orange peel and various other spices at the secondary level. They add some depth, character, and are a nice addition to the flavor profile. Hops are earthy and floral. They're not overly strong, but add some bitter zeal to the mix. Finishes sweet and fruity.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It features a medium body and has a decent, smooth feel. Carbonation's a little and prevents it from from reaching the next level in terms of smoothness. But, it's not bad. Drinkability is pretty. This is going down pretty easy and is an enjoyable beer overall.

Geary's has come up with a pretty impressive English Strong Ale here. I actually had somewhat low expectations and walk away surprised and impressed. I think dialing down the carbonation would smooth it out and improve it to a degree. But, other than that, it's alright. Definitely worth a try.

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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 Bowdoinbeerboy
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Presented with a mild copper colored body and a finger of head that just lasted all night.

Smell- A fairly hoppy smell with some sweeter undertones.

Taste- Initially spicy with lots of hoppiness but with a definitive sweet malty under character.

Mouthfeel- Coats the entire mouth and fills the entire palate.

Drinkability-Exceptional definitely a must have!

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.96/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to charlesw for this one via Beer Powerball Week 4.

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a PC (Thats Presbyterian College, THE Hose) inscribed mug of sorts. Beer is a dark copper color with a beautiful, brownish-whitw head of nice density. Tons of lacing and the head is continually replesnished by the cavalcade of bubbles racing skyward.

Aroma was okay. Nothing extraordinary. A little alcohol, a little sweetness, some caramel, a touch of hops, and a solid bready aroma.

Fairly complex in the flavor. Fruity as the beverage first hits the tongue then turns slightlty alcoholic and is rounded out with a nice hop bite. Plenty of caramel and toast to go around.

Full and creamy on the tongue. A little too much carbonation or this would be a 5. A really god beer. Seems sessionable as the alcohol is pretty well hidden, but at 7%, this beer is testing the boundaries of sessionability. A good, solid beer.

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Photo of markskar
4.57/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my "go-to" beer. It's brewed just up the road in Portland so it's always fresh around here. I'll give anyone who rates this at less than a B+ the benefit of the doubt and assume their sample may not have been as its peak freshness. Nice abv at 7.0 and very drinkable--perhaps too much so (at least that's what my wife says).

A: Clear dark amber. Nice head with consistently good lacing.

S: Oak and a complex fruitiness that I can't quite put my finger on.

T: The perfect balance of malt and hops. Not too sweet, not too bitter, and while the alcohol taste is there, it isn't overpowering. Touch of caramel, bit of toffee. As with all English-style ales, it has the standard oakiness to it, but that too is just right and doesn't overpower the other complex flavors.

M: Not too thick and not over-carbonated. Keeps me coming back for more. Day after day.

D: Already stated above, but perhaps a bit too drinkable. Some reviewers seemed to feel that it's too heavy for summer-time drinking, but I think it's refreshing any time of year.

Personal favorite, can't say enough good things about it. We're blessed with the availability of a great assortment of great beers in Portsmouth (including our hometown favorite, the illustrious Smutty!), but this one will always have a special place in my heart.

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Photo of Avryle
3.52/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2001-2002 bottle from The shady bevy purchased in July 2008... it'll be interesting to see how/if this held up.

A- hazy orange-brown in color. Very small cap o' foam on vigorous pour.

S- Malt & apples. Malt is much more predominant. Fortunately it does not smell like the shady bevy. (Cigarettes & dog)

T- There's some oxidation. Very malty. Surprised to get booze presence. Tea-like qualities with tannin finish.

M- Carbonation held up well. Medium to full bodied. There's a slight sticky-sweetness on the tounge.

D- Not too bad. The oxidization takes it down a notch, but the flavors are very mellow and are improving as it warms.

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Photo of aerozeppl
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2000-2001.
Geary's does hold a special place in my heart.

A: Fairly clear copper color with minimal white head. Some lacing which is nice due to the age on the bottle.

S: Very tight nose. Hints of malts and some apples.

T: This has evolved into a massive malt bomb. Little bit of oxidation creeping through but it hasen't killed the taste yet. This would be a good time to crack them all open.

M: Medium body. Low carbonation.

D: While probably past it's prime glad I tried it. Totally different fresh. Don't hold on to one for more than 3 years tops.

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Photo of avalon07
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: When poured from a bottle to a pint glass, this beer had a rust color and a big, foamy head. Good lacing.

S: Smells of caramel, malt and some indeterminate spices. Pretty complex aroma.

T: Very malty, with some traces of hops and and caramel. It's a rich taste, with a fairly high alcohol content (more than I expected at any rate).

M: A high level of carbonation and smooth finish here. Full-bodied.

D: Overall, this is a drinkable beer - if you're into the style. It has a complex character on the whole that's a little bracing at first. Still, a solid brew.

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Geary's Hampshire Special Ale from D.L. Geary Brewing Company
3.93 out of 5 based on 631 ratings.
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