Bomb(er) Shelter: McNeill’s Firehouse Ale

Bomb(er) Shelter: McNeill's HighlightI’ve come to realize that I like writing about bomber sampling more than I originally anticipated I would. Every time I place a bomber in my hands I get an overwhelming surge of what normal writers would brush off as simple thoughts.

I consider this surge creativity.

About The Brewery

In this installment, I have the pleasure of highlighting a craft beer from Vermont which I happened to pick up during my latest venture outside of NJ.

The Firehouse Amber Ale comes to us from McNeill’s Brewery in Brattleboro, Vermont.

The mainly local brewery was started by Ray McNeill in 1992. Over the years, Ray’s crafts won the hearts of many including the editors of All About Beer Magazine which described McNeill’s as “The jewel in the crown of Vermont’s many fine beers.”

In addition to the brewery and packaging facility (opened in 2008) which allows Ray to package ten different products plus seasonals, McNeill’s also features an on-site brewpub.

The brewpub is located on Elliot Street in Brattleboro and serves all ten crafts as well as special concoctions not available on store shelves.

About the Craft

The Firehouse Amber Ale is almost exactly what you would expect. It pours a hazy, almost dirty, amber red color with a thick head. Despite the cloudy appearance, it looks appetizing in the glass.

What I found unexpected with this brew were the changes that occurred in the 60 minutes from opening to finishing the bomber. The most obvious change occurred between what my nose interpreted and my tongue expected.

I was surprised that the ale smelled sweet and fruity, but what shocked me even more is how different it tasted. A lot of that standard beer malt flavor and tastes of tartness, like lemons. There was a rather odd alcohol / plastic / odd scent in the after taste.

For no reason other than that I was busy cooking, I let the brew sit for about 15 minutes before coming back to it. When I did pick up my glass again, to my surprise, the ale changed. The malt taste took a back seat as the tartness transformed into a stronger, pleasant sweet and fruity taste I originally smelled.

Bomb(er) Shelter: McNeill's Highlight 2In my opinion, this craft beer won’t make it on many people’s top lists, but it was a fun experience as I tasted the changes with the passage of time.

Bomber Highlight

Style: American Amber Ale ABV: 5.6%
Z-Liner: “Malty and tart ale that transforms into an almost sweet and fruity experience over time.”
Best Consumed: “While watching a baseball game with your best buddy – at the stadium or in your living room.”

McNeill’s Brewery, Brattleboro, Vermont

About bomb(er) shelter
Frequently taken for granted within our industry, this is an ode to my favorite craft beer collecting and dispensing method: the 22oz bomber (for the sake of disambiguation, I am using the term bomber to represent both 22 oz. and 750ml bottles). This mini-feature will highlight various bombers that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. Cheers!

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