Re-posted from my blog: Malted Musings.
Just in time for late fall/early winter, I have tasting notes on three big (ish) beers from Smuttynose Brewing Company that are packed with taste, yet drink nice and smooth.
I had these three on draught at Eli Cannon's in Middletown during their Smuttynose Brewing Co. night last Tuesday. The choice was rather daunting, they had the following beers on: Big A IPA, Robust Porter, Homunculus, Winter, Old Brown Dog, Summer Weizen, Finestkind IPA, Herbaceous, and Zinneke. I ended up going with the Herbaceous, Zinneke, and the standard Old Brown Dog.
Herbaceous pours out an opaque, deep chestnut brown color, with a light head on top. It smells light and hoppy with a slight clove scent. The taste is initially quite light with sweet carbonation. This gives way to a sweet mid-taste that is then filled with bright, floral notes with an underlying earthiness to the tone. The beer then finishes slightly bitter and very dry: altogether even. This beer starts lighter, but grows very quickly to a hefty medium body. There is a nice sweetness throughout that works with the bitterness to balance out this interesting brew. The name is very fitting as there is a lot of herbal tone to this beer that strikes me as an-almost IPA that has very interesting floral tasting notes that compliment its bitterness nicely.
The Zinneke was up next, and this one was the favorite of the batch. This is a Belgian Stout, half of which is aged in bourbon barrels and then combined to form a very lush, flavorful beer. It pours out an extremely dark reddish brown that's barely translucent with a lively dark brown head. It smells richly of dark coffee, a hint of bitterness, all with a tinge of slightly sweet hops. The taste begins light, sweet, and bright with a hint of bright Belgian hops (sweet, not bitter). This moves to a heavy dark coffee taste that sits on the back of the throat and lingers with a sparkling combination of bitters and bright, floral/sweet bittering. The entire beer finishes bittersweet with a lingering, clingy dark mollasses flavor. Even though the flavors are deep, this beer does not seem gooey on the pallate, it (as with the other Smuttynose beers) finishes nice and neutral and leaves you ready for another sip. This is a medium beer with intensely bright Belgian hopping that is mitigated by dark coffee biterness and deep woody tones. All of this makes for an interesting combination that brings together the easy-drinking brightness of a Belgian pale ale and the punch of a heavy porter. A great combination that will segue you neatly from late fall into the chilly winter.
The last beer I tried was one of Smuttynose Brewing Co.'s top seller: Old Brown Dog. This beer pours out a dark brown (obviously) medium opaque, with a very lively head that took a few minutes to settle down. This beer smells sweet, mild, and light. At first taste this beer is light and mild (much like the scent) and subtly sweet that moves to a medium sweet maltiness. This sweet oakiness continues for a little while and then finishes slightly sweet and very dry with a hint of dry, light citrus (almost grapefruity). This beer is a light to medium smooth, superbly balanced brown ale with a soft dry finish that demands another round! Despite its delicate sweetness, this beer has a hefty underlying oaky body that lends to its 6.7% ABV.
All three beers were interesting in their own way, but the one thing they shared was an easy, dry finish that left you wanting more of the brew. The Herbaceous is great for a hop head looking for a slightly bitter beer that goes in a new direction, the Zinneke is a great all-purpose chilly weather beer, and Old Brown Dog is a great autumn brew that is hefty enough to last the winter, but light enough to drink in the summer.