May 2, 2012

Starr Hill Monticello Reserve Ale

I’d seen Starr Hill’s Monticello Reserve Ale on the shelves over the past year or so, but never felt the urge to purchase a bottle. I couldn’t tell you why, there just wasn’t a spark there. Perhaps it was the “official beer of…” disclaimer on it. I didn’t want to get sucked into buying a brew more meant as a tourist trap than anything else.

At any rate, I finally took the plunge the other day and, thankfully, the beer turned out to actually be pretty darn tasty — for a pale wheat ale. The 5.5% ABV brew is crafted with the aforementioned wheat and corn. The result is a beer that has an earthy character and a welcome sweetness in the finish. Oh, and apparently the thing won a silver medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival in the “Indigenous Beer” category. So there you go.


Reserve Ale pours a light straw in color with a slowly falling white head that left residual lacing on the glass.


The nose is very light with hints of wheat, lemon zest, subtle spices and herbal hop notes. I don’t pick up any corn though there is a bit of a sweetness to the aroma.


I mostly pick up the wheat as the primary driving factor in the flavor while lightly toasted bread, a subtle sweetness and herbal hop notes develop as the beer warms in the glass. The brew has an earthy character that is nicely complimented by the subtle sweetness in the clean finish. Light bodied and softly carbonated, the beer drinks smoothly with a hint of hop bitterness late.


Monticello Reserve Ale is a pretty tasty brew. It’s got a delicate though earthy flavor profile that, if served too chilled would probably go down like a macro adjunct brew. But the longer the beer sat in the glass, the more it opened up. The wheat is subtle (just the right level for my own personal preference) and the corn adds an earthiness and sweetness that is appropriate for a beer of this style.