Top Shelf American Ale
22 oz bottle, $5.00, 5% ABV
Purchased at brewery
Oh dear. The poor dears. This beer was awful.
I suppose there’s a little bit of a story here, which is probably only fair to the young men at the brand new Manchester brewery. I stopped by very early in the brewery’s existence and very shortly after they started bottling their stuff. Their first three beers were their flagships – the American, Irish and Belgian ales.
Sure, that may sound “boring,” but hey, if they were good, I’m totally fine with that. A brewery can be super successful only concentrating on a few beers – as long as they are awesome.
I tasted the lineup at the taproom and thought to myself, “Hm. These are okay I guess. Certainly not exciting. But whatever, gimme one of every bottle you’ve got.” The taproom American Ale was drinkable, if a bit run-of-the-mill.
Before we get to the bottled beer, let’s hear what they have to say.
Top Shelf says:
Light colored, medium bodied American style ale with a 2-row pale malt background balanced with smooth hop flavor and aroma.
Revolution, independence, liberty; what does American mean to you? For us, it’s following our passion for all things beer and revolting against the status quo. The right to choose the most flavorful malt and freshest hops for the styles of ale we want to brew. The fredom to stir the mash with our own hands contrary to the rules of efficiency. “land of the free and home of the brave.” WE thought our first flagship ale should be titled accordingly. Cheers!”
Wow. A bit much for me. It’s beer, dude. Not Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Sheesh.
So after reading that, I was fully expecting this beer to make fireworks shoot off above the trees in my backyard, causing me to rise to my feet, place my hand upon my heart and begin reciting the Pledge. While the Blue Angels did a fly-by and Uncle Sam danced the jitterbug to Scott Joplin jazz and a monster truck carried a load of deer-hunting bros with cartons of McRibs and bibles.
No fireworks. No fighter jets. No Scott Joplin. And no McRibs.
I drank some more.
What the serious fuh?
Like I said in the first paragraph, this beer is abysmal. Strong diacetyl. Totally infected. Horrible. I gave some to Hoang to be sure and her reaction was the same.
So if I may quote from the American Ale bottle again: “it’s following our passion for all things beer and revolting.” Yup. Nailed it.
Look, this stuff happens. Beers get infected. Bad batches get brewed. But you know what? Bad batches get dumped. It’s costly and it sucks, but it needs to happen. Period. Selling off crap batches for $5 a bottle is not good business. (Note: Top Shelf is not the only new CT brewery to pull this garbage in 2013. Note 2: My experience and bottle was not unique. Note 3: I tasted the American ale at a later visit and it was certainly what was intended, but still, not much more exciting that a true ‘Murican adjunct lager.)
I spoke with Mike, one of the owners and head brewer during my first visit and he was pleasant enough, but this first experience really soured me. I had three more bottles of their other beers from my first visit and was really hoping for a complete turnaround in the other bottles.
Overall Rating: F
Rating vs. Similar style: F-