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 kunzbrew
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours a amber color with a mild size head that last for a short period of time but leaves one hell of a sexy lace behind.

The aroma of caramel and hops fill the nose with great pleasure. My mouth is watering jsut waiting for the first sip.

The toasted caramel malts are strong to the palatte, I am really liking this one. The hops are just bitter enough, for my liking.

This one is easy drinking and goes down very smooth.


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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 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 proc
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really enjoyed this one. Pours out to a bright and clear copper color in the glass with a slight head. Aroma is that of a light citrus. Taste is excellent and different than I expected. There are times you think you have a pale ale and times think think you have a barleywine. Notes of caramel and pine in the taste with such a fabulous balance that it makes this very drinkable.

It appears some Maine beers are making there way to Michigan and that is fine by me. A very good beer and one I will grab again throughout the winter.

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Photo of avylover
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one courtesy of an TinusTime heads up.
Pours out clear & deep gold with little head to speak of. Aroma has some bready burnt malts, and a decent citousy hop scent. This is one of those scents that singes the nosehairs, with some spices in there to boot. Taste is very unique. Starts off with some sweet maltiness and some spice, then a wallop of floral hops hits you, yet finishing off creamy. Good dry aftertaste. This is one of those beers that wants to breakdance in your mouth..alot going on here.. Heavy carbonation makes for a good strong mouthfeel and dry finish. Drinkability is pretty good, in part due to the creaminess of this brew

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

Pours a reddish/orange hue with a bright clarity, and about and inch of smooth tan head.

Smells rich and malty with hint of alcoholic esters and a touch of sweet fruit.

The taste and mouth are both rich and strong. The mouth is a bit fluffy, full and round. The taste is malty up front with a nice warming alcohol middle and a slight hop finish. The bitterness sticks a bit to the palate, lingering. The taste has warm earthy overtones, the mouth just too damn smooth.

if this is a winter seasonal, I better buy up all I can, this is one fine beer.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Geary's HSA pours out a clear, dark bronze color into my glass, and gives off a thick, bubbly, tan head.
Aroma is mild, soft, sweet, sensual, lightly fruity, more from malt, no hops detected at all.
Taste: bright and sharp are the first adjectives to jump to mind, followed by delicious and divine. This is a devil from the start! Juicy, thick, constant texture, considerable presence on the palate, round, full, fantastic. Rich and malty, with an increasing alcoholic presence, even at a mere 7%.
Just the sort of wickedly delightful brew that sends you into a particular bliss from which you never wish to leave! Long, tasty finish. Quite impressive. I could easily make this a favorite, if it were native to my environs. So good!

Huge thanks to marc77 and Bierman9, who both submitted samples! Prost!

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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 UnionMade
3.72/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours a dark bronze, topped with a thin, yet lasting ivory head. Some blobs of lace cling to the glass. Good clarity. Looking good.
The aroma is dominated by husky dark maltiness. Lots of specialty grain, particularly caramel and probably a good deal of victory or crystal. Some toasted malt and chocolate. An interesting carob aroma. A bit of buttery diacetyl, with noticable alcohol. Slightly phenolic esters, with hints of plum, fig, and apple. The hops are subdued, with a light herbal, hay-like quality.
The flavor starts out with plenty of malt. Slightly husky and grainy. Lots of different malt in here, with noticable caramel, toasted, and a bit of chocolate malt. The chocolate comes through more towards the middle, with an interesting carob flavor lingering throughout the remainder of the sip. Definitely ringwood yeast. Some bittersweet coffee notes, with a diacetyl buttery, nutty flavor and dark fruity esters coming through in the middle. A bit of plum, fig, apple, and a suggestion of green raisin. The malt continues to dominate, with a light hoppy tang in the finish. Mild bitterness, with an interesting herbal, citric, and grassy quality. A rich malty finish, kind of grainy, with that carob flavor really coming into it's own. Unusual. Full bodied, with light carbonation, and a smooth, easy drinking mouthfeel.
Very tasty and complex. Definitely a beer marching to the beat of it's own drum. A bit rough edged with some strange flavors that don't entirely go well together, but as a whole, it's an enjoyable pint. I can certainly notice the alcohol after a couple of these, and it's a bit palate fatiguing, so I didn't think the drinkability was all that high.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001-2002 Edition, given to me by a beer store owner who said that 3 6-packs of this has been sitting on the floor of his store for 2 years. 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep reddish-copper color with one finger of head. There is almost no lacing left on the glass. The smell is slight alcohol and sweet caramel and malt, a fairly full nose. The taste is fairly sweet at first, with little bits of toffee and dates, then finishes with a little hops bitterness and alcohol. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and heavy on the tongue. The drinkability is pretty darn good for a 7% brew. I definately need to go back and pick up the rest of those lonely 6-packs from the beer store floor!

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

Poured a deep amber color with a slighlty thin head. The head slowly receded to the rim of the glass along with some spotty bubbles on the surface. The aroma was sweet, but the alcohol was definitely noticable. The flavor was a great balance of sweetness, spiciness, and bitterness. Very smooth and full bodied. There is a slight malt and alcohol aftertaste. Definitely a tasty ale.

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Photo of jreitman
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002-2003 Fruity/spicy aroma... some nutmeg, apples, all kinds of smells came out. Poured a deep copper with a thick and dense, off white head. Nice visible carbonation. Slight bubblegum note to the nose came out as it warmed. Flavor of sweet fruit with some nice cinnamony spicing coming through. Bitterness was fairly high but fit well with the rest of the beer. After a while aroma and flavor started to remind me of artificial strawberries (think lollipops).

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

Pours a clear bight amber with very little head. Smells of sour alcohol and malt.

Tastes sour and malty. Smoky. Fullk hops aftertaste with an alcohol bite. A complex malty brew but medium bodied.

Had this for the first time last night. Took a six-pack down to Young's Lobster Pound and drank out of the bottle with a lobster dinner. Damn good out of the bottle and even better tonight out of a proper glass.

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Photo of ybnorml
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lovely copper colored ale with a nice but not thick head. An even malty sweet aroma greets you with the first sip and stays throughout the whole glass. The taste is excellently balanced between a gentle maltyness and a smooth hop finish. I'm glad to hear that this is now available year round.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 fluid ounce stubby bottle, from a 6-Pack handed to me by my new BA Brother Sir JohnnyP. The bottle has a silhouette painting of a Maine sunrise/set and has the words ‘Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale’ in gold. A smart looking gold neck label just says ‘Geary’s HSA’.

Appearance: Pours a lucid Copper color with golden-orange hues when backlit. A very smooth looking off-white head forms when poured, which slowly settles to a thin covering, but the head returns when swirled. Light lacing.

Nose: Fruity caramel overtones with an underlying straight from the oven yeasty freshly baked bread odor. Alcohol is perceptible in the latter parts of the nose along with a feint whiff of hops.

Taste: Very smooth introduction, buttery malts with some sweet biscuit caramel, a little fruit mixed with a deep malty backbone that runs throughout the beer. The ending changes with each mouthful, a mixture of Curacao oranges, dark skinned berries, fruity malts, brown sugared pears, and a whole host of other flavors I cannot recognize. Moor-ish, the alcohol sneaks through at the end after being well-hidden for a while.

Mouthfeel: Solid wholesome presence supported by the malts and fruity alcohol.

Drinkability: Easily dispatched. Knowing that I have a few bottles left suppresses the depression associated with the fact that I cannot buy this here in So.Cal. A tasty strong ale, which sits well on the desk and in the mouth, but does not last long in the fridge or glass.

Overall: Brewed in Maine – Imbibed in California.

“Ah seen the promised land” – it’s Maine!!
Praise Be to Preacher Sir JohnnyP for sending some of it to the West Coast.

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Photo of yankeeheel
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice dark amber color with a thin white head which dissipated quickly. The smell is of a pleasent ale, breads and caramel malts. Some of the alcohol comes through to the nose too.

The taste is very balanced. Malts up front, some sweetmess and carbonation in the middle, and a just a tinge of hop at the end. The ABV gives it a little bigger mouthfeel than your average ale.

Very quaffable for such a high ABV. Is it the holy grail of strong ales? Not in my book, but it's pretty darn good.

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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 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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Photo of rastaman
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich barley sweetness at the start, yet quite soft and approachable. Some nice delicate spicyness, with a touch of caramel and toffee, quite a hoppy, bitter-ish finish, quite alright, this was the last of the night, perhaps it didn't benefit as much as it could have because of this very reason, still a nice tasty strong ale.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.37/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very violent pour is the only way to get a lasting head on this puppy. The buttery flavors of the ringwood are strongly dominant and a little bit goes a long way. Malts and hops are diminished because of it. There are some interesting fruity undercurrents, some intriguing spiciness which I think is derived from the alcohol, and the malts (if you can discern them buried underneath all the butterscotch) are sturdy, salty and delicious. I would love a bit more crispness from a more forceful hop presence. Other reviewers have mentioned a fair amount of hoppiness, but I'm not getting any of it. The sweetness and butteriness of this beer gets cloying, especially as it warms; I preferred it at a cold right-out-of-the-fridge temperature, unusual for this style of beer. This is not a bad beer but I think it is overrated. That said, it does grow on you and each bottle tastes better than the last. Perhaps a fresher bottle, or a cask-conditioned pint, or even a more wintery setting would enlighten me as to why this beer basks in universal acclaim.

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

Pours a nice amber color....Nose is very inviting....a bit of whiskey...some bing cherries...and even some leather and mustiness...body is thick and firm but easy drinking....about perfect...feels good in the mouth, like it was meant for me to drink a six-pack of this tonight (although I only have one which is a probably a good thing)...A verynice flavor to match the nose although slightly weaker than the nose.....same elements...sweet fruit/whiskey/leather...finsihes with a nice twang of hops that throws this malty badass into balance.....a very enjoyable of the more drinkable barley wines I've had...A guy could get in trouble with this....a lot of character with this beer, but a high drinkability as well....thanks to Bierman9 for providing this memorable beer..

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

12 oz, brown bottle, capped. No date. Presumed 2002-2003 vintage.

This strong ale poured a clear, iced-tea brown color with creamy, off-white foam that was persistent. The carbonation was lively. The smell was citrusy floral hops and sweet malt (very nice). The taste was sweet caramel malt and strong floral hops with a little biscuit thrown in. The mouthfeel was smooth and creamy and hoppy with medium body. Very nice balance. The drinkability was very good. This was a very tasty ale that left me wanting more.

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Photo of marc77
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

2002 - 2003 edition. Garnet hue with a light chill haze. Almond white, thin, but well retained head leaves loose lace. Mellow, strawberry like esters with a tinge of fig along with smooth, medium lovibond caramel and sweet biscuit. Damply floral, lightly perfumed hop nose. Trace butterscotch and bubblegum esters arise with a swirl. Deeply toasty, borderline tannic, amber - like malt sweetness is perceived at first in flavor, then is ensued by notes of burnt caramel and dry, roasted, sugared pecans. Subdued fruitiness of a berryish, red licorice nature emerges mid palate along with mild diacetyl, lending an odd, yet agreeable buttered and candied fruit impression. A touch shy in residual dextrins and / or over attenuated. Passably smooth in mouthfeel, but no more. Earthy, humus like hop flavor. Finishes with a lingering, cleanly bittersweet toffee and hop bitterness combination. A flavorful, well rounded strong ale, with a pronounced biscuit presence. The slight astringent note upfront prevents Hampshire S.A. from reaching its full potential. Tasty, but not outstanding. The relative high strength goes nearly unnoticed, and aids in the brew's fine dinrkability. Thanks to Mainebeerman for the sample.

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

Hampshire Special Ale – 2002-2003
Village snow scene on label

This beer poured into the glass an amber/cedar wood/ruby color that was clear. The head was thick and creamy, the color that was produced was a French vanilla crème that was fairly sticky and left a sticky lace behind. The aromas that came from the glass were of malts, sweet fruits (berries, slight oranges), caramel, light flowers and I also noticed a very, very, very slight metallic hint at the end, not horrible just there. The flavors that came from the beer were of dark fruits, (berries, plums, and some raisins) caramel, hops, sweet malt, flowers, and a creamy sensation like you get from butter. This beer was surprisingly complex, when the first pour and sip was taken I thought it was fairly simple, but the more I poured and tasted the flavors seemed to arise and become more complex. A good beer, it surprised me from top to bottom of bottle, very well balanced.

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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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