Generally, I’m a fan of the beers that Long Trail crafts, (especially their Brewmaster Series) but I’ll say it up front that I did not enjoy Long Trail Harvest Ale one bit. At least until I powered through the whole six pack over the course of a week! Who says persistence doesn’t pay off?
I’m still not thrilled though. Despite my gut telling me “don’t do it, stupid” I went and had my Wife bring back a six-pack of it from Vermont, and then later I ended up seeing it at my local Total Wine here in Jersey for less than it cost to buy where it is brewed up in Vermont. Yeah. Duh.
OK, so what’s the problem. The problem, I think, is Brown Ale. I can’t say for sure, but Newcastle Brown had set the bar quite low for this style initially, but now it seems, I just do not like the style all that much.
It just seems watery, too dry and so middle-of-the-road that I can’t put a finger on any redeeming qualities of this beer style.
While you drink it, you don’t find yourself spontaneously vomiting (involuntarily, of course) but as soon as you are done, you’ve just about forgotten what beer you’ve just consumed. “Oh, a brown ale. Sweet. I had forgotton.”
“So, what’s up with the Long Trail Harvest” I hear you thinking. (I know, I know, I am that good!) Well, lets start by why I bought it in the first place. Well, I love Autumn, and I love the beers produced this time of the year. Oktoberfests, Pumpkin Ales, Candy Corn Beer, all of it! (Well, not the Candy Corn beer, I made that up silly!)
So, Long Trail makes this Harvest stuff, which is supposedly made with Vermont ingredients and get this, maple syrup. OK, I can dig the local Vermont ingredients, but maple syrup? I’m in! (Disclaimer – I LOVE maple syrup. B grade especially.)
So, once I tried Harvest, and could not detect even the slightest essence of maple syrup, I was PISSED! When I saw it in my local beer shop for less, I was even more pissed! (To clarify, I was ‘pissed’ in the American sense, not the British sense in both pissed instances.)
So, here I have a six pack of this unremarkable brown ale, totally lacking the one ingredient that swayed me to disobey my gut in the first place. What to do? Drink it of course! I took my time and tried to find what it is that makes Long Trail brew this beer year after year, and why so many other people are happy with it. And?
I have no idea.
Yes, the beer is drinkable. Yes, as it warmed a bit, the beer became slightly more interesting, but for the life of me I do not understand the appeal. While it looked nice and Autumnal in the glass, that was about it. I noted some nuttyness, mild roastyness, and a touch of sweet like caramel (not maple dammit) in the aroma as well as the taste. None of these seemingly enjoyable flavors stood out enough either individually, or as a whole to make the beer interesting in the least. To top it off, the beer seemed watery and thin.
So, I’m disappointed that I bought this beer, especially a whole six-pack. I would have been happy with a single, and had I waited a little bit, I would have just had the one bottle to complain about an not 5+1. Oh well. It didn’t do anything for me especially because the maple that is mentioned on the label is not the least bit detectable, which totally sucks.
You can’t win ’em all, and it would be silly to think I’d like every beer that Long Trail brews, or any brewer’s total lineup for that matter. I’ll just put Harvest in the ‘don’t buy again’ list along with their Blackbeary Wheat and focus on the rest of their stuff which is very good.