Beer Profile: Southern Tier’s Manhattan Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman

 I had to write this after I got home, had supper and did several other things, so apologies in advance for anything I missed. The delay immediately caused one snafu: I had thought it was named “Martini,” but with a little research I am sure it was Manhattan Ale. Which makes more sense: only because Martini made no sense at all. Manhattan? Well, the ingredients are similar, but not the same by any means. No problem with that: whatever it takes to make a great quaff. This is what they did and beyond.
 It looks like 10W-40 in a glass: sure as hell doesn’t taste like it. No head, slight carbonation at best: it doesn’t need either. The abv and bourbon barrelling probably took care of that.
 If you’re looking for a high grav sipper with lots of flavor, this is it. Closing in on almost but not quite light brown, this dirty amber brew has great clarity. Nirvana for a high gravity lover. No head: with the barreling, the gravity, the surface tension due to that gravity, I wasn’t expecting much. Light carbonation: doesn’t need much. Heavy carbonation would ruin the experience.
 The aroma is like the flavor: light rum barreling, way in the background caramel, extremely light hopping: so light it’s hard to discern. Perhaps just a hint of herbal, but not enough to label. The flavor follows aroma plus MA finishes confusing. Slight dry and slight sweet at each sip it is complex and exciting, yet demands you do so slowly: which is good because this could really kick you into Never Neverland. Came in an 8oz glass: praise the beer gods because it was my one drink before I popped over the hill to home.
 No Munich, maybe a hint of Maris Otter and caramel malt(s), otherwise this is pure pale and a hell of a lot of it. Hint sweet. The bourbon barrel is more evident in flavor than aroma, but that’s not all that hefty either. It’s a supporting actor to the star of the “heft:” malt. Any malt not pale stays mostly off stage. Maybe a hint of pilsner? Aftertaste/finish is, of course, sweet malt, and a hint of bourbon. The cherry, orange peel and coriander are way off stage. They just provide a great background. Coriander close to absent.
 If I had to blindly guess the style: American Strong Ale. If not that: Barleywine: a bit more Brit than American due to low hopping. But I lean more towards a barreled American Strong. (I found out after I typed most of the review I was right.)
 Mouthfeel is full, malty, vinous; like a glass of hefty wort. The alcohol is obviously high but not hot, not intrusive: it lingers like a maid or butler off to the side or to the back of the stage while the basic malt is in the spot light. (At 14.1 that’s brew TALENT!) Hint of caramel at best. I’m wonder if the mash stuck on this one it’s so malty.
 Thanks to Matt and Screamen Eagle for this delightful quaff. I’ve had a lot of great beers at this 50 tap Inlet brew mecca, but this may qualify as one of the best. The highest rating I’ve EVER given a beer, and I’m a somewhat high grav pro having run a high grav mostly competition for 5 years and a beer tasting focusing in on high grav since 2006. BTW, I probably will NEVER give a 5, just like giving a 50 in a competition may never happen. To get there I need to die and go to the perfect afterlife!
 This brew is exquisite.

 90 at Rate Beer, 70 for style. 4.04 out of 5 at Beer Advocate. 3.88 at Untappd. American Strong Ale. 14.1abv. Here is what ST says about it…

 Introducing Manhattan Ale, inspired by the ever timeless cocktail. We brew this ale with cherry juice, orange peel and coriander then age it to perfection in bourbon barrels. It’s a midtown metamorphosis that harmoniously brings our two passions to life in one glass.

4.8

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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