While they may take some heat for some of their styles, I have long been a fan of Long Trail Brewing. Their flagship Long Trail Ale was new to me 20 years ago. Back then I didn’t know it was a German altbier, nor did I know what an altbier was. At times I forget how much I always liked this beer. I recently picked up a mix pack which included the Ale, Pale Ale, Hibernator, and the “Hit the Trail” English brown.
Hibernator is supposedly a Scotch ale. And I really have never cared for Scotch ales. But, this one tends to be bit on the mild side. Not getting any of the peaty, smokey attributes I associate with Scotch ales. From what I understand, the smoke and peat flavors do not come from smoked or peated malts, but from the traditional yeast strain and/or the local Scottish brewery water. It’s entirely possible that American craft breweries may used smoked or peated malts, however, to play up these traditional attributes.
The Hit the Trail English brown is mild on what would be considered the styles key characteristics. I get hints of the nut brown flavors, but it’s subtle. The subtle flavor profiles of the Hibernator and Hit the Trail due offer an entry into the styles that may be a bit more accessible to the average beer drinker. Enough flavor to provide something new, but still nothing over the top or too strong to scare anyone away. They are all quite drinkable.
The Pale Ale took me a couple bottles to appreciate. It’s very citrusy, in flavor and aroma. Very crisp and clean as well. Not the best pale I’ve had, but again, a decent entry into the style.
My favorite remains their flagship Long Trail Ale. This took 1st place in the German Altbier category at the Great International Beer Festival. Moderate bitterness and balanced malt flavor. Only 4.6% abv, crisp and clean like a lager, altbier is considered a hybrid in which it used an ale yeast that works at below typical ale ferment temps, and when stored cold (lagering) it cleans up very well. This is a great session beer. One can toss down several without high ABV, it’s refreshing, but still offers nice flavor.