3.7AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
When we think of American lagers we tend to think of grainy, watery, crispy beer but why should that be the case? The Smuttynose Brewing Company, a craft brewery out of New Hampshire, doesn’t think so either and took a more niche route for their Portsmouth Lager. It’s got all the makings of a craft brew but with the easy drinkability of a macro lager.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
This beer pours to a dark amber body which is fairly clear with very little carbonation noticeable. It does not generate much of a head – only a one-finger, off-white, soapy layer which dissipates rather quickly and leaves minor lacing on the glass. The aroma is much more indicative of an ale than a lager with a sweet scent of caramel and rich maltiness.
The Vienna-style of lager is very similar to a Marzen or Oktoberfest beer with a thick, chewy mouthfeel and a sweet caramel taste. That’s what Smuttynose Portsmouth Lager apparently set out to accomplish and it definitely delivers.
I really liked the sweet flavor here which was tasty, but fairly mild. There is no bitter quality at all since this beer is only 15 IBUs. The caramel and malts combine for a very refreshing palate, which is surprisingly watery in the end. This is a lager I could drink in large amounts and I think most beer drinkers would, too.
It’s rare I encounter a lager with such a tepid and yet rich body as Portsmouth Lager. It seems to be heavier than the average lager, but the soft, gentle mouthfeel creates for high drinkability. There is a bit of a dry aftertaste, but only slightly.
Anything greater than a light body in a lager is rather unusual, but that doesn’t make it bad. Portsmouth Lager is medium bodied and at 5.1% ABV it’s nothing the average drinker or even a lightweight couldn’t handle. I know I definitely wanted more when I was done!
Unfortunately, Smuttynose has decided to retire their Portsmouth Lager, which is a shame considering how solid of a performer it is. I think this is a beer that would appeal to anyone with its tasty flavor and smooth finish. I wish more American lagers were like this!