One Man's Trash...

Brewery and Country of Origin: Allagash Brewing Company of 50 Industrial Way, Portland, ME 04103, USA

Date Reviewed: 12-20-12

Back some months ago, we were writing about the Blue Point Brewery and their history. As it turns out, much of their current equipment was acquired through foreclosure auctions from other breweries which had gone bust. They pre-owned equipment continues to brew good beer today, but under a different brand, different owners, and using different recipes. Allagash has used a somewhat similar approach to this one time limited brew: Old HLT. The HLT stands for Hot Liquor Tank, a piece of equipment used to head up the water used for mashing before fermentation takes place. The water is either heated using electric or gas power sources. Contrary to the name, nothing alcoholic ever goes into the HLT. In fact, the only purpose of an HLT is to heat up water, which means it would probably have been better named HWT. Either way, although it is a cool idea from a marketing standpoint that Allagash is conditioning in an unconventional tank, these are usually made with stainless steel and must be kept extremely clean so as not to infect the mash when the water is introduced to the barley. So essentially, this means that you wouldn't benefit from using an old (retired) HLT over another, conventional cask or tank in terms of flavor or aroma. In theory it would have the opposite effect: a very clean conditioning tank means that no outside or additional flavors are being introduced as the beer ages, such as in the case of a beer conditioned in a bourbon cask, or one aged in an oak cask. What gives this particular beer its unique flavor are two things: the fact that it is conditioned (aged) with fresh cherries for two years, and the fact that it's mostly unfiltered (you won't find any intact cherries in the bottle, of course), leaving you with a good deal of fruit content. But whether you liked the concept or not, we can say there are probably better ways of introducing a little flair to conditioning, especially if you're the conditioning specialists that Allagash are.
Date Sampled: 12-11-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: Wild Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 8.00%
Serving Type: 375 mL Bottle, 16 oz Tumbler Glass
Rating: 3.69


Old HLT has a dark reddish amber color with a very cloudy and hazy, unfiltered appearance. The beer has a large amount of chunky and fine sediment which settles at varying degrees. This beer pours with a fairly smooth flow, and a moderate level of carbonation action gives this beer a thinner, somewhat weak foam head with a lower level of retention. There is almost no lacing on the glass. There is only a dull glow in the light.


The aroma is pretty fruity with a fairly high strength. A small amount of malty sweetness is present, as is an interesting grape like aroma which is similiar to strong grape juice or a red wine. There is a hint of alcohol detectable and no hops known. Surprisingly, no real cherry notes are present here.


This is a medium full bodied beer with a fair bit of viscosity, a matching weight, and a moderate level of carbonation. A wine like dry finish and unclean close ends the profile with a fairly good amount of warming from the relatively high alcoholic content. The finish has a moderate amount of lingering.


As you would imagine, the flavor is dominated with a very strong, almost overpowering fruity taste characterized with grape or cherry like notes, some citrusy bits with a bitter and sour accompaniment, and a very sweet beginning taste overall. There is some sweeter, lighter malt present, as well as a wine like character. This beer has a fruity, dry and bitter aftertaste with an average amount of lingering.

Our Take

This beer was first released on March 31st, 2012 for a one time offering. The two year conditioned ale is a strong, bold, and sometimes overwhelming brew which only a select few are truly going to enjoy. We thought this beer's bold and powerful flavor was a high point, as well as an aromatic experience unmatched by most other beers. Unfortunately, this is also a beer which can only be handled in small doses, so perhaps Allagash made the right decision selling it in individual, small size (375 mL vs 500 or 750 mL) bottles. Aside from this being a one time brew, this was also very hard to find unless you actually visited the brewery (as we did in May when we got this and many other beers from them). Yes, this is a strong and bitey beer which we know, is both an acquired taste, and an acquired taste that even most beer drinkers won't agree with. For whatever reason, we happen to like this one. Sure, we have definitely had much better beers from these guys in Portland, ME, but it's always cool to experience a one time beer when you get your hands on it. So there you go. If this is something that sounds pretty terrible to you, you're in luck, because it really no longer exists. For those of you who may have been a bit excited about this one, might we suggest making a trip up to Maine next time?