Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boxcar Original

Boxcar Original

Brewed by:
Boxcar Brewing Co.
West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

American Pale Ale (APA)

5.00% ABV

Commercial Description:
Original Ale is Boxcar’s first beer. This light bodied ale offers a pleasant hop flavor balanced with a mild malt taste and a hint of citrus. Two different types of unroasted base malts and whole leaf cluster hops are dry hopped with whole leaf cascade hops to provide the rich flavor to this very pale ale. The finish is satisfying and clean with an alcohol by volume of 5%.
Original Ale Ingredients:
A moderately hopped transitional ale that is unfiltered and bottle conditioned. Our flagship ale that we made to keep our craft drinking friends happy and help bring our noncraft drinking friends over to hand crafted beers.
Color: Golden
ABV: 5%
Hops: Cluster (bittering) / Cascade (dry)
Malt: Pilsner (base)
Available: Year round in 12 oz. bottles and draft.

General Pricing:
12oz bottles: ~$30.00 case

I contacted Jamie Robinson at Boxcar about a charitable craft beer event that we are having at Holy Saviour Parish. One thing led to another and I ended up helping out at the brewery one afternoon for bottling day. I was very impressed with the brewery and the beer. Everything is done well and old school. There is no forced carbonation, everything is bottle and keg conditioned. At the end of the afternoon Jamie gave me a few samples. I was very impressed with this beer at the brewery and now I can’t wait to give it a full review.

The beer pours a hazy light golden almost straw color orange hues and a bright white head.

The nose is delightful with light pilsner type malts and floral hops with sweet citrus notes. This may be the most inviting nose ever. I can’t wait to dive into it.

Wow, no really WOW! It may be hard for some to get excited about a simple pale ale but not me. This is fantastic; it truly is “Simple Elegance”. I have not had such a refreshing beer in a long time. I can see this being my stable beer this summer. Move over Leffe Blond there’s a new Boxcar in town. I’m getting ahead of myself and that’s all from the first sip. Let’s get back to this review.

The taste starts out with sweet light malts up front then a nice clean and refreshing effervescence over the tongue through the middle of the sip. The back-end is extremely easy drinking with an effortless and still quite refreshing swallow. The finish is just amazing; clean, and refreshing with just enough hops to dry without bittering. There is also a very nice citrus note to the finish that adds to the refreshing aspect of this beer. There is very little to no final aftertaste just some slight lingering yeasty and citrusy notes.

This has got to be the most refreshing beer ever. Unlike those macro light beers this is refreshing with good flavor. And I’m not worried about the headache either.
This is so refreshing and going down so easily the glass is almost empty. My only real regret here is that I only chilled one to review.

I have set this aside for a while to warm up a little before I can continue.

OK, we are now at 65 degrees.

Man, this is really impressive. We are just about to room temperature and this beer is every bit as good as it was when cold. Actually it is smoother and slightly richer now. Even with most of the carbonation gone this is still a very refreshing beer. The other really impressive thing is that this beer did not pick up any off flavors whatsoever. This beer is clean and refreshing to the last warm drop.

This is a solid A maybe even an A+. Not really by style but for style. What I mean by that is this will get low marks by a lot of craft beer reviewers because it’s not the typical overly hopped American Pale Ale. But for the overall experience, you can’t beet this beer. It really is the perfect easy drinking ale for any season. Personally I think it’s a bold move by Boxcar not to go bold and to create such a unique and refreshing lighter ale; especially for their first offering.

I highly recommend this beer. It’s a tremendously refreshing beer; light in body with the most enjoyable floral hops and citrus note finish. It has a nice earthiness to it that drinks more like an English Session Ale than an APA. It’s clean and refreshing to the very end. Any beer drinker will love this new beer.

Final Thoughts
This one lives up to its name, Original. This is the most original Pale Ale that I’ve ever had. When I saw that Beer Advocate had this classified as an American Pale Ale I was expecting the typical over hopped American style Pale. Boy was I pleasantly surprised to find such a refreshing ale. For my palate this has more of an English twist to it. It really does drink like an English Session.

This beer (and the brown that I’ll do next) is not going to excite or impress most of the existing craft beer reviewers. And I don’t think it was meant to. It did however impress the heck out of me for several reasons. As part of my enthusiasm for craft beer I like to spread the love, as it were. I always try to find the right beer for the right person. Every party I attend I bring beer that I think would be suitable to those attending. I am always looking for that good “Convert Beer”. You know, something that will bring the drinker over to drinking better craft beer instead of the Macro Lagers. I usually have a lot of luck with a lighter style Belgian Wit. But now it’s going to be Boxcar Original. I don’t know if Convert Beer is a term or a Johnism but this beer will certainly “Convert” any beer drinker into a craft beer drinker.

The other thing that impressed me was the simple elegance and the old school technique. This is truly about the beer. Simple all grain ingredients well crafted to produce a great drinkable beer. In my book you can’t get any better than that. Then to take that a step further and bottle condition everything was just amazing to me. There is no trap here of having things perfectly filtered so it’s crystal clear etc. Personally I think that there are great characteristics in a beer that get processed out with filtration. Plus there is a character that gets added in with bottle conditioning that cannot be duplicated by forced carbonation. 

Boxcar is doing it simply and doing it right while producing amazingly well crafted ales. Hat’s off to Jamie and Jason at Boxcar. It was so encouraging to see these guys at work in their brewery. Just keep producing simple well crafted product and you can’t go wrong. You got me sold and I’m doing my best to spread the love.


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