Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smutty Saturday

I had a Smutty saturday yesterday. I've been curious about Smuttynose for ages - ever since I saw their label in 'Beer' by Michael Jackson years ago. There's something quintessentially American about that cute little Seal-and-Mountain device that just makes me smile. So, imagine my joy when their wares showed up on these shores. I think the labels are brilliant - simple to the point of absurdity, and almost Lynchian in the way they depict small-town Americana.

The Beer? Oh yeah. The Beer. Well, first up was their famous Old Brown Dog (6.5%abv). It pours a lovely shade of Auburn, and there's a familiar plummy aroma that turns out to be the first thing you taste on the sip. The body is full and rounded, with some cinnamon-cakiness (yes, that's an official term), raisin, and an ever-so-slight touch of smoke hanging around in the background. The hop attack is only gentle and noble at that, which is good because OBD has a light, lovely balance between sweet and dry. It's a lovely, lovely beer and fans of sweeter English browns such as Worthington's Celebration or Theakston's Old Peculiar should give this a go.

South Island Single (5.8%) really hit the spot with the sun streaming down as it did yesterday. Belgian - Pale Hybrids are an idea that I really like, and this one is different to the sweeter ones I've had in the past, but successful. There's distinctly Hefe notes on the nose; coriander seed, lemon zest and an estery note that you'd want to be there. The aroma actually builds the beer up to much more complex than it actually is; what you get on the sip is a refreshing blonde with a dry finish and that lightness that seems to be a Smutty trademark. Good job too; I could probably drink quite a few of these.

The Final beer in this trio is pure and simple IPA (6.9%abv). Light amber in colour, there's lemon and lychee on the nose, finishing with a hit of Pine - as you'd expect from a Simcoe-hopped beer. The body is certainly big and sweet; juicy malt to balance the hops. Again, even a little Pine comes through in the taste, as the bitterness builds up to a fresh, clean, citrus finish. In many ways the IPA is personification of what I perceive the Smutty style to be - big on flavour but surprisingly light and drinkable on the sip. The two guys on the label, chilling on their lawn with some beer, is an apt image to use.


Anonymous said...

Nice review Leigh, in fact you have rekindled my excitement in the Smutty I have chilling in the fridge at the mo. I tried the Old Brown Dog the other night & wasn't that impressed, I think though that it might just have been a good beer at the wrong time as normally I love brown ales...

I have the Big IPA so I'll let you know how it goes

Ian Cann said...

Good stuff indeed Sir, the brown ale was pleasant, a bit thinner perhaps than the full glory of Theakstons OP but eminently drinkable.

The Star Island Single though was a delight, one of the most interesting and surprising beers i've had in a while. The labels as you say have a fantastic americana feel to them.

Mark said...

Not tried any of these yet, but I love the labelling. Like you say, it's just great.


Anonymous said...

As I live in New Hampshire, Smutty IPA (sometimes called "Finestkind", for the quote on the label) is my "go-to" beer. If I can find the Robust Porter, all the better.

Great review!

Paul Haigh

Sid Boggle said...

Was lucky enough to visit the brewery some years back. Big A and their Robust Porter are always enjoyable, and it's great to see them in this country.

Barry M said...

Only had the pleasure of the OBD, and that was brought back from the US in a suitcase :D Nice you can get this locally!

Leigh said...

Thanks guys !