Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

One of the nice things about All Viewer Request Month is it's been getting me to go back to a lot of breweries I haven't reviewed in a long time - like today's beer: Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale. I used to review Smuttynose all the time the first few seasons, but then never got back to them until now. This beer is, as its name implies, a brown ale. I know a lot of people hate or are indifferent to this style but I've always dug it (Newcastle played a key role in getting me into craft beer). I haven't had a good American brown ale in a long time - would this be one I enjoy?

Thanks to for requesting this one.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - SEP 14, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a Newcastle "Geordie Schooner" glass.

Appearance: Pretty shade of maroon/brown/ruby red/mahogany. Dark, but translucent. Forms a good sized light brown soapy head which retains and laces well.

Smell: Mild nose of lightly toasted malts and a mild confectionery sweetness.

Taste: If I listed all the flavors I detect in Old Brown Dog Ale you’d probably assume it was a complex, robust, delectable beer. And while it certainly does taste good to me, the intensity of these flavors are quite low: caramel, toffee, nuts, toast, and a dash of milk chocolate. The brown ale style is an old fashioned pub style of beer meant for sessioning, not so much for food pairing or binging. Smuttynose’s entry into this style definitely satisfies these requirements, but perhaps a little too well. I’m inclined to believe a British publican would enjoy this much more than an American craft beer enthusiast.

Sure, the confectionery notes are quite pleasant. The sweetness of caramel and toffee and the more bitter notes of toasted bread and nuts are very well balanced and pleasing. But as much as this might sound like a liquid Snickers candy bar, the truth is it’s a pub ale with more flavor and less bitterness when compared to something like a bitter, ESB, or pale ale. Tasty yes. Robust no.

Mouthfeel: Extremely soft and comfortable - it’s the chinchilla of beer!

Drinkability: While Old Brown Dog Ale might not have as much energy as I’d prefer, it definitely has the friendliness of a loyal pet. Very smooth in all aspects with a mostly clean aftertaste make this a drinker’s delight. I’m astonished that this is 6.5% ABV, as it drinks like something half the size. This is an ideal beer to introduce newbies to craft beer because of its genuine (but mild) palate and easy drinkability.

Overall, this is a good beer and a good example of the traditional Brown Ale style. I just wish Old Brown Dog Ale had a little more bark and bite.

Grade: 7/10

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