Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Smuttynose - Really Old Brown Dog

As of late, I've been really pleased with Smuttynose's "BIG BEER" Series.  They've all been phenomenal and I've yet to taste one that I don't like.  That said, I'm really looking forward to today's review.  I've tasted their "Older Brown Dog" and was pleased, so I can't wait to see what this one has in store.  Let's pour!

Aroma 9/12
This is a nice spiced and sweet mixture!  It immediately reminds me of date bread with its dark molasses malts, cinnamon, anise/clove, and a sweet, dark bready smell.  Not the bread you get at the supermarket.  I'm talking homemade, delicious bread that is heavy in your hand and isn't properly served unless it's a one inch thick slice.  There is also a noticeable warmth and lots of dark fruits (I wasn't lying about the dates!).  As the beer settles, an ever-so-slight hop citrus adds its two cents to the bouquet.  Never threatening to take over at all, just adding another layer.  None of this is a "bowl you over" strong type of smell mind you.  It is all present and ready to be taken in at your leisure.

Appearance 3/3
The color on this beer is most intriguing.  I tried to capture it in photos and feel that I have failed.  It appears at first to be this dark, walnut brown, but upon closer inspection is really quite a handsome mixture of brown and red.  When held to the light, it even resembles stained cherry wood (one of my favorites).  Hiding in this dark brown brew are rubies and shades of scarlet if you take time to find them.  It is all topped with a head barely bigger than a finger that is beige in color, lingers for quite some time, but leaves little lacing - not surprising with the alcohol detected in the aroma.

It looks pretty dark, right?

This pic shows the colors inside, though it is not truly this light either.

Flavor 19/20
The mouth is instantly awash with intense flavors from every angle.  I'm taken aback a bit and don't know where to focus first!  I suppose my initial sensation is the prickle of spices and tiny carbonation toward the tip of my tongue.  The alcohol is also much stronger than in the aroma and is a primary character in this flavor profile.  The warmth mixes fantastically with the dark fruits (dates, raisins, figs) and makes one think of a cordial (like say, blackberry brandy), but without the candy-like sweetness.  The fruits can't be separated though from the spices and the date bread reference returns.  Well, date bread with a lot of booze in it.  The finish is a dark bitter that is reached by the fruits slowly continuing to descend and becoming more and more dark until only the bitter remains.  It's a very neat sensation.  The aftertaste is bitter and the shell of alcohol warmth.  Is there port in this?  Yum.

Mouthfeel 5/5
The body on this is relatively light considering the huge flavor and abundant warmth.  Overall, it is just over medium-heavy, but one expects a much heavier beer given the trees that make up this forest.  The carbonation is initially prickly, but it compliments the spices and then goes away, so I won't fault it for that.  The warmth is certainly a dominant player, but is surrounded by complimentary flavors!  Key word: complimentary.  So many make the mistake of having a higher ABV in a brew where the alcohol takes over and beats the other flavors to death with their own severed limbs.  This dominant ABV is not only appropriate, but welcome.

Overall Impression 10/10
This is a damn big beer.  The aroma was a bit underwhelming, but this beer made me feel like a fool for underestimating it in the early goings.  The flavor is IMMENSE (enough to warrant CAPS LOCK usage), the warmth is in-your-face, and the appearance is equally deceptive.  Again, I was definitely surprised by the mouthfeel on this one, but not in an unpleasant way.  If this beer had the body that I assume it should have, it would have been a sipper beyond belief.  Good work to Smuttynose for cramming this much flavor into as little body as possible.

Total 46/50
Nice work Smuttymose!  Your "BIG BEER" Series has not let me down yet.  Even my wife liked this one!  Based on the smell, I thought, "Awww... just like a really old brown dog it's going to be subdued and kind of relaxed."  Then I saw the color and thought, "Awww... they really love their old mascot Olive.  This shade of brown must've been the color of her coat.  How pretty."  Then I tasted it and found out that the really old brown dog still had a TON of spunk in her yet.  The flavors are not only big, they're complimentary, and very, very tasty.  Plus, the fact that this 1 pt, 6 oz bottle is priced under $6 is an insane bargain!  Go buy this!  For that matter, buy the other Smuttynose BIG BEER Series with confidence.  I have yet to have a bad one and for the price, you can afford to be a little adventurous.  Now get to it!

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