This is a fun beer to review. It was released originally as Short Batch #18, and has graduated into a spring seasonal. This is a “durty” brown ale, that’s hopped like a Double IPA. It runs at 8.4% ABV, and 97 IBU.
It pours dark reddish-brown, with a light brown head that doesn’t stick around but does lace well.
The smell is very clean, leaning much more toward hoppy than brown.
The taste is all hops, with the malt sneaking in later. According to Smutty, the hops used are “Bittering-Magnum, Flavor- Nugget, Dry Hop- CTZ and Chinook” while the malt is “North American 2-Row, Munich 10L, Chocolate, C-60, Brown Malt” with White Labs WLP-001 American Ale yeast. This is a very complex taste that you really don’t expect from a brown ale. Everything bounces around, and you get lots of flavors all over the tongue and all throughout the drinking process.
This is a beer that I feel like I really deserved today, after shoveling my driveway out. It started shipping in January (my bottle said best by 6/6/2014). Distribution is obviously limited, so pick one up while you can.
I give this one a 4/5. A very good hop-forward brown ale. The hops are very well-balanced against the malt, and the ABV is very subtle. It definitely mellows out as it warms.
If you’re sensing a Smuttynose theme, that’s because one of our guys works part time at Smutty and brought some stuff he had laying around.
Up next is a beer that very few people have ever tasted. There are only 77 checkins on this beer EVER. It’s a very off the wall beer, purely experimental. While you’ve tasted a witbier, this unconventional witbier gets its swerve from the contributions of Chef Jamie Bissonnette. Instead of the traditional coriander and orange peel, Jamie brought kaffir lime leaves, spruce tips and 25 pounds of grapefruit zest to the brewday.
The biggest taste I noticed was the spruce tips. The grapefruit and lime were definitely evident, as well as the grapefruit zest, it smelled and tasted like walking through a forest. Unfortunately, someone had to mention how they thought it smelled like soap, so that became all the rest of it tasted. THis was a very interesting experiment, and I look forward to whatever comes next from Smuttlabs.
Next came NH’s Smuttynose, from their Short Batch series, Bouncy House. As the implied, this was a limited run, all bottle in November 2013. Smuttynose’s main goal was to make a beer that is low in alcohol, high in flavor, and hoppy. Some might call this a “session IPA” as it is hoppy and runs at 4.9% ABV, but Smuttynose wanted to avoid labels and called it a hoppy ale.
When you taste Bouncy House, you’ll taste a modest malt bill of North American 2-row, British pale ale malt, C-60 and Aromatic malt mashed for a refreshingly light body that leaves plenty of spotlight for a melange of Warrior, Calypso, El Dorado and Citra hops.
This was a very smooth, low ABV IPA with detectable hops, but they weren’t over the top. Malts were definitely there, and while complex, also very light. We enjoyed drinking this beer, and it was a nice slow ramp up to the beers coming later. Another good quality, flavorful, easy drinking beer.