RATINGS: 152   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.71/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 297   ABV: 9.9%
The Benchmark is our limited-edition, annual release. It is a pale old ale,with a great malt palate, subtle hop presence, and a high gravity (9.9% alc/vol). We brew it once a year, fermenting half with ale yeast and the other with lager yeast. When it’s ready, we blend the two and finish it with Champagne yeast and age it for many months.

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Rastacouere (6177) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAR 13, 2006
Clear light robe established between orange and mahogany. Its head is egg shell coloured, beginning small and becoming a ring rapidly. Surprisingly nutty, roasted malt despite the relatively light shade. Maple/toffee rather typical one-dimensional candied sweetness. Medium hops, mostly supporting and likely having lost their intensity with the time. Earthy, thinly woody and desperately trying to be toasty, but the latter is mostly a failure. The maltiness has grown pretty dull since 2003, the malts are really not that concentrated for a 9.5% American ale and the remaining apricot and floral hop aromatics just aren’t that entertaining. Rather processed, filtered mouthfeel, light bodied and quiet in its effervescence. Not worth aging if you’re still holding on some.

MartinT (9880) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAR 12, 2006
Any first impressions?
-A foam circle looks down on the glowing maple gold.
-Fruity caramel and earthiness may have merged once, but are distant at this point.
-Overall flavors are mild, low in complexity, and sweetness is perhaps the only attainable pleasure for now.
-Mouthfeel is complacent, another sign of its unceremonious aging.

What if you dig deeper?
-Aroma and flavor are fragile, and don’t last long.
-Fruitiness reaches red currants, mild cherries, but cannot gather enough bulk to titillate.
-Alcohol is nicely hidden, barely heating the back of the mouthful.
-A wilted flower still draws emotion, but certainly not one near well-being.

Bottle; 2003 vintage.

winegarner (220) - san diego, California, USA - MAR 2, 2006
Poured a clear amber with a small off-white head. Aroma is of toffee and apricots. It is a sweet, full-bodied beer with delicate fruit flavors hidding behind the maltiness. There is a slight hop bitterness but the malt is dominating. The gentle swet fruit finish is quite enjoyable.

trokini (1025) - San Diego, California, USA - JAN 31, 2006
Why are the ratings so low for this? 2003 bottle. Pours clear amber with a thick, tan head. Aroma of hops, caramel, and fruits. Excellent, well-balance taste. Sweet and hoppy that fades into malt and sugar. There is absolutely no alcohol bite. The mouthfeel is a bit thin for an old ale, but the taste more than makes up for it.

RooftopRogue (423) - Champaign, Illinois, USA - DEC 17, 2005
The aroma is a hearty one consisting of yeast and hops. This beer is a translucent copper color that resides under a good thick head. This beer enters the mouth smoothly and rolls over the palate nicely producing a vigorous taste of yeast that is mildly infused with grapefruit that linger well after the solution has been swallowed.

jsquire (4489) - St. Marys, Ohio, USA - NOV 2, 2005
I shared the 2003 bottle with Drew at the Middle of Nowhere Party (yeah, it’s taken me a long time to make my entry). Amber orange coler with a thin eggshell head and a nose that smelled of dark fruit. Thin, almost juicey flavors with apricot, tangerine and something very winey. I did not feel the 9.9% at all.

Drew (2411) - Kent, Ohio, USA - SEP 8, 2005
2003 bottle at the Middle of Nowhere Party, 9/05. Glowy orange/amber, short ring of head, clear lacing. Fruity with plenty of apricot and some raisins (and grape peel too). Very easy to drink - where is that 9.9% abv?

OldGrowth (3474) - the Containment Area, North Carolina, USA - AUG 27, 2005
Bottle, from John’s Marketplace. Good nose, sweet. Caramel, orange, berry, apricot. Brownish orange color(1st pour was clean, 2cd pour was hazy)small head that faded quickly. . Sweet bitter flavors, like aromas with brown sugar, raisin, whisky, leather also. Medium body, oily/creamy mouthfeel, Sweet dry finish. Still has some warmth to it, Must of been something when young. Nice brew, flirts with barleywine status, bought this when I was in Portland back in Oct 03, so it might be an 02, not sure.

11026 (1772) - Alabama, USA - AUG 9, 2005
Bottle from ’03. Pours a light brown color with more of an orange-red hue when backlight. Light khaki head fades to a ring and leaves light lacing. Medium bodied although it seems like the carbonation bubbles struggle through to make it to the surface. Richly sweet in aroma with lots of molasses and brown sugar notes. Flavor seems to fall short, initially it is sweet with brown sugar and then just dissipates into oblivion. Perhaps a mild hop bitterness towards the tail. Interesting to try but wouldn’t rush out to buy more.

IPFreely (1470) - Sanborn, New York, USA - JUL 19, 2005
Hazy reddish amber in color, beige head that did not last long. Fuller aroma of brown sugar, malt, light spice and some alcohol. Flavor is a touch more fruity but still similar to what the aroma introduces, some hops too. Fuller bodied, a bit hot, slightly dry. Not bad.

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