Mystic Seaport Pale Ale

Mystic Seaport Pale Ale
1 12 oz bottle, $1.79, ?% ABV

Purchased at Liquor Depot, New Britain

The Mystic Seaport is awesome. I know that word has sort of fallen out of favor for writers who care because it has become so over- and mis- used. “Pinkberry is opening at Westfarms Mall! Awesome!” And, “My new haircut is pretty awesome!” Those things aren’t “awesome,” they’re simply cool. Except you new haircut; it’s ugly.

But the Seaport is huge and beautiful and historically enchanting and takes a full day to appreciate and is therefore, pretty darn awesome. It’s basically about 20 museums all in one place. And since it’s the rare attraction in Connecticut that almost requires many hours of walking around, it stands to reason they have themed restaurants and yes, branded beer.

When I stumbled upon a bottle of this American pale ale in a remainder bin, I immediately knew it wasn’t actually brewed at the Seaport. Although, imagine if they incorporated a historically accurate 18th or 19th century brewery there? I’d enjoy that. Anyway, this beer is made up in Maine at Shipyard Brewing Company.

Which is fine. Shipyard makes the effort to host events down in Mystic every so often that incorporate the history of brewing and shipping and, well, let’s be honest; Shipyard is certainly a cheeky choice of a brewery to brew beer for what is essentially a historic shipyard. Clever.

(I mentioned in the intro that there is a contract brewer just a few miles from the Seaport at Cottrell in Pawcatuck, but now that I think about it, I like the deal with Shipyard. It almost makes too much sense.)

The bottle’s label is also well thought-out as it features a picture of a ship’s figurehead. The Seaport has a huge and beautiful collection of these things and if I remember correctly, it’s one of the largest and most important such collections in the world.

The Seaport says : “The most romantic and mysterious of all artifacts from the age of sail, these figureheads billetheads and catheads also demonstrate the extraordinary skill of their craftsmen.

In ancient times, figureheads frequently depicted supernatural beasts and deities adopted from popular mythology. This tradition persisted into the nineteenth century, when patriotic figures and national heroes were also introduced. Modern vessels, for the most part, carry little if any decorative carving, as hull design and traditions have changed.

Oh, if you’re curious about my visit to the Seaport, you can read about it here, but I warn you, it does not do the place justice. Not even close.

It was with all this rich history and fondness for the Seaport in my mind as I popped the cap and began drinking the pale ale. I lost my excitement almost immediately.

Shipyard Brewing says:


I couldn’t find anything about the beer on either of Shipyard’s (rather terrible) websites. Which doesn’t surprise me, as it’s a single label contract brew. No matter.

I continued drinking the beer, wistfully reminiscing about Connecticut’s shipbuilding and whaling and seafaring past. Still… not excited.

I gazed at the label and placed myself in the Captain’s quarters of the Charles Morgan, slicing through a brisk north Atlantic storm while keeping watch on the rigging and my crew. Nope… nothing.

The neck label states, “Masterfully microbrewed with the artistry and authenticity you’d expect from the world’s greatest maritime museum. Mystic Seaport Pale Ale is a rich and majestic taste of the golden age of sale.” Or not.

I finished the beer and wondered why Shipyard made such a pedestrian pale ale, devoid of any hop character or zing of any sort. This is made exclusively for one of New England’s premier tourist attractions, damnit!” I muttered, It should be great!

But it’s not. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t live up to the name on the label. It’s bland and boring and I guess it’s made with the typical Seaport tourist in mind: Make a beer that will have mass appeal, will not offend anyone, including the lager-loving Europeans and will be a nice beer on a steamy July day.

In that light, the beer makes sense. On my couch on a Friday night in September wanting to be wowed by an interestingly branded beer? Notsomuch.

Overall Rating: C-
Rating vs. Similar style: D-

Beer Advocate’s Reviews of Mystic Seaport Pale Ale
Shipyard Brewing Company
Back to CTMQ’s Connecticut Beer Page
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