BLC Says: Montauk Driftwood Ale is an ESB, aka Extra Special Bitter, a style that you don’t see too often and see even less frequently in a can. Surprisingly, this is Montauk Brewing Companies Flagship Ale and they have been brewing it since their opening in 2012, though it just made it’s way into cans in March. Though Montauk beers are currently not made on site, you can visit their tasting room to sample their offerings year round. There are plans to build a brewery, so hopefully we will be reporting back with a grand opening date soon. Now, onto the beer. We had previously only tried Driftwood Ale on draft, since that was the only option, and it actually does taste a bit different in the can. It pours a light copper color with golden highlights and a thick, white head that leaves behind lots of lacing should you choose to pour it into a glass. The aroma is heavily lemon scented, with notes of both malt and hops, though neither are overpowering. There is a bit of sweetness and light fruit present, though the citrus is really front and center. Though the malt aroma is in the background, it really comes through in the taste, with lemon still being prevalent as well. Throughout the sip there is a bready, caramel sweetness and it finishes on a bitter, hoppy note. Carbonation is prevalent throughout and the medium body builds to a slick finish followed by a dry aftertaste. We plan on taking the trip out to Montauk soon (while the canned version is still fresh in our heads) to sample the draft version and contrast and compare.
What Alicia Thinks:
Though this is not the beer I expected to be in a summery looking can, once I tasted it I understood. Though the ABV is a little high and the malt is dominant, this is still a beer I could see drinking in, well, Montauk. For me I would say this is a canned alternative to lighter, hoppy beers and would be a good entry into craft beer for people who prefer sweet breadniess over bitterness. The lemon also adds a level of refreshment to it which helps break up the malt. Though this does end on a slightly bitter note, don’t let the name throw you off. It’s probably best that they didn’t opt to put “Extra Special Bitter” on the can, as that probably would have deterred potential customers who just saw the word bitter and walked away.
What Kevin Thinks:
Like the can it comes in Montauk Driftwood Ale is an attractive beer. With a white head and a clear copper body waiting in the glass I was eager for my first sip. The aroma features an abundance of lemon which obscured much of the malt character. Alternately in the taste the malt really builds coming through bolder but still with the hop zing of lemon as well as some fruity esters as accompaniments. Malt notes are sweet, leaning toward caramel with hints of bread crust. There is a crisp mineral quality present as well. I found the finish to be a touch to bitter an issue compounded with multiple sips. Overall this is a good beer that fits many seasons and setting well but I was hoping for more balance. Marketing wise this should hit where it is targeted as it seems to be attempting to be many things in one beer. For me this is a 6.5/10.
ABV: 6% IBU: 49 Color: Light Copper Year: 2014 Brewery: Montauk Brewing Company
The Brewery Says:
Our flagship ale is brewed with American hops that even out of it’s malty base. This well-balanced Extra Special Bitter is enjoyable all year round.