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.