Nature abhors a vacuum, and seeks to strive for equilibrium in all things.
This is why hot air rises to warm cold, why a champagne bottle opens with a
“POP!”, and why you can use an electrical device to suck dirt out of your
carpet. The natural state of things, therefore, is balance, and that
being the case, good old mother nature would be delighted I am sure to sit
down with a foaming glass of Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale.
Balance in beer is a term used to describe the relativity between
ingredients, mainly hops, malt, and yeast. Generally it comes into play in
the finish, where beer can be unbalanced (more bitter or sweet), or balanced
between the two. In the palate, a beer can be balanced between all three
ingredients, meaning that none of them overpower the others and all three
add equally to the brew. Shoals Pale Ale has just such a balanced palate.
Smuttynose has been brewing up delicious beers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
since 1994, with Shoals Pale Ale being the company’s flagship brew. The
brewery is a bit off the beaten path but not too far from Interstate 95, and
is a delightful tour though you will need to make arrangements. When I
visited a few years ago owner Peter Eggleston was only too happy to show me
around, and we enjoyed fresh-as-can-be glasses of Shoal’s Pale Ale in the
tasting room after the tour.
The company takes its name and that of this beer from an archipelago of
islands not far from Portsmouth Harbor, know as the Isles of Shoals. One of
them is named Smuttynose Island, hence the company’s moniker. If you’re in
Portsmouth to see the islands (or for any reason), be sure to stop in at
that Portsmouth Brewery brewpub, sister brewery to Smuttynose, for a
refreshing glass of Shoal’s Pale Ale.
You can find Shoals Pale Ale throughout New England in bottles; the brew
also has a very heavy draft presence in the area too. Distribution is
presently limited to the following states: Connecticut, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale pours to a reddish orange color with a rocky head
formation, and a malty, fruity nose. A touch of fruit (pear?) accents the
malt nicely here, and leads into a slightly citrusy, lingering bitter
finish. The malt body is smooth but firm, standing up to the hops and yeasty
fruitiness nicely. I have enjoyed the beer on tap at the brewery, and quite
frequently at the Mews Tavern in Wakefield, RI. It has been my experience in
the past with the draft product that it is a bit cleaner than the bottled
version, from which the above tasting notes were taken.
Shoals Pale Ale is bottle conditioned and hence has an extended shelf life.
It is brewed with Crystal, Pale, Wheat, and Carastan malts and hopped with
Chinooks and Cascades. Alcohol by volume is about 5%.
This is an exceptionally well-balanced beer from one of New England's
premier microbreweries. The delicate but flavorful nature of the beer makes
it an excellent accompaniment to most dishes, but this is a beer also well
suited to a casual evening's sipping, a great “session beer” if you will.
The smooth character of Shoal’s Pale Ale also makes it a popular beer with
those who do not usually partake of craft-brewed beer. A wonderful
interpretation of a classic English style with a subtle American twist. Not
to be missed.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For
reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.