Beer Review: New Albion Ale From Boston Beer

The flagship beer of the New Albion

The new Albion Ale.

In 1976, Jack McAuliffe founded New Albion Brewing Company, and ushered in the craft brewing era in the United States. Though he was ahead of his time — the brewery didn’t last more than six years — McAuliffe’s impact rippled through the industry and led the way for the microbrewing boom that followed.

Jim Koch was also a pioneer in the U.S. beer world, but his timing was somewhat better. He’s the founder of Boston Beer Co., better known as the producer of Samuel Adams, the biggest-selling craft beer brand in America. Last summer, Koch and McAuliffe joined forces to resurrect the original flagship label of New Albion.

Best described as an American pale ale, New Albion Ale began showing up in 12-ounce bottles throughout the country this January. Poured into a tulip glass, the gold liquid is slightly darker than a pilsner, with a relatively tight, straw-colored head that pours strong but doesn’t stick around all that long.

The aroma is nothing fancy — the beer smells like malts and yeast, with a slight whiff of grass and apple. The yeast used is of the original strain, which has been carefully preserved at the University of California since 1977.

On first sip, a slight hop flavor comes forward (Cascade hops are used), and the swallow is as refreshing as an ale gets. There’s not a lot of complexity in the taste, but it’s extremely well-balanced. Not too sweet, not too bitter, not too malty, and not too hoppy. Some citrus notes are noticeable as the beer warms and you get used to it, and the 6 percent ABV sneaks up on you, since it drinks as easily as a 4 percent ABV lager might.

New Albion Ale is available throughout the U.S. in six-packs, and occasionally on tap in some markets. In addition to being an easy-drinking beer, the best part about the revived label is its homage to a pioneer. Plus, all proceeds from sales of New Albion Ale are being donated to Jack McAuliffe himself, a fitting tribute. 

— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation

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