I am a big fan of Smuttynose’s Big Beer Series. Some of the very best high ABV beers so I try to grab them whenever I see a new one. This one is their Wheat Wine Ale which combines the barleywine and wheat ale styles.
The last ABV reported on the Smuttynose website was 12% in 2010. This was a bottle from 2012 and I have to assume it was in that area. Appearance is a deep orange with a very thick white head. It took some time to get the glass this full. Aroma has lots of caramel malts and a fair amount of booze.
Taste has a bit of everything with those big malts coming through with some vanilla and a bitter and boozy finish. This sounds like it would be a bad combination but it works as there are a lot of things happening in this beer. I have yet to be disappointed with anything from their Big Beer Series. If you haven’t tried them, find them.
Pros: Complex and high ABV
Cons: Boozy might not be for everyone
Alcohol Content: 12% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Brewers Website: Smuttynose
Brewers Description: Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale is a unique hybridization of two well-known beer styles, combining the rich, voluptuous taste of a traditional barleywine with the subtle, tart flavors of an American wheat ale, topped off with a healthy dose of crisp, herbaceous hops.
For more information about this style, please consult the Brewers Association Style Guidelines.
The much-anticipated debut edition of Smuttynose Wheat Wine, brewed and bottled early in 2005, was delayed for nearly a year due to problems stemming from the federal label approval process. The Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly ATF) rejected our original label approval application, claiming that use of the word wine in a beer name would confuse and mislead consumers and retailers. We didn’t agree (barleywine, anyone?) and appealed their rejection. Ours is the first, but definitely not the last, wheat wine application the federal government has seen, so they had to create new guidelines regarding the use of this name. We did prevail, at last, and the issue has been put to rest, and although there are several outstanding examples of this style offered at brewpubs, we are pleased to say that Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale was the first commercially bottled Wheat Wine on the market.
Black IPA is still a style that I don’t really understand. I have had a few and the only two that are memorable are Ted Bissell’s homebrew and Foster from Hill Farmstead. The rest are not all that memorable and the Noonan Black IPA falls into that category. This is a nice beer and a good example of the style but nothing to get too excited about.
Color is black with a thin tan head, aroma has more roasted malt, coffee, chocolate than hops but there is some piney/citrus hops in there. Taste is about the same with plenty of hops to start and then the chocolate, roasted malts take over. Still seems an odd combination of flavors for me.
Overall this is a fairly easy drinking black IPA but it is not a style I would drink on a regular basis.
Alcohol Content: 5.7% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Brewers Website: Smuttynose Brewing
Brewers Description: Black IPA doesn’t quite seem to make sense, does it? How can something that’s black also be described as pale?
Noonan is our interpretation of a New England original, the Black IPA. Dark like a porter, but hoppy like an IPA, this seemingly contradictory beer style originated in 1994, in Burlington, Vermont by brewer Glenn Walters and under the watchful eye of Greg Noonan. Greg was many things, a brewing pioneer and author, founder of three brewpubs, 2005 Russell Scherer award winner and genealogist. When Greg passed away suddenly, Smuttynose’s brewing team wanted to brew a beer in his memory and this was the result. We hope you find it a worthy tribute as well.
Noonan (the beer) looks like an ordinary porter or stout, until you get the pint up to your nose. You can’t avoid the big whiff of piney, herbal and citrusy American hops, but there’s virtually no roasted character. Ponderous, huh? When you take a sip, you’ll notice that the beer doesn’t taste a lot like a porter either. Instead of the expected astringency imparted by dark grains, you’ll find a depth of caramel malts and more American hops. Don’t worry that’s by design; it’s also what we love about the beer.
I really enjoy Smuttynose’s Big Beer Series and liked the Old Brown Dog when I reviewed it almost a year ago so it is no surprise that this one scored well with me. What did surprise me was the alcohol content of this one. I had this while cooking dinner on the grill and beer just goes down to quickly when you are cooking meat on a grill and I didn’t really pay attention to the ABV before starting. By the time the burgers were done so was I as finished most of the 22 oz bomber while cooking and was walking a little crooked when I came back in the house.
Beer pours a deep brown with a nice two finger off white head. Aroma is sweet malt and dark fruit and very inviting. Taste follows the aroma with lots of sweet malts, dark fruit, molasses and maybe a touch of alcohol. Mouthfeel is very smooth and goes down far too easy for a 10.9% ABV beer.
Even if you usually do not enjoy brown ales you should give this one a try as it is a wonderful beer that will leave you happy.
Pros: Alcohol is well masked
Cons: Hits harder than it tastes
Alcohol Content: 10.9% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 20
Brewers Website: Smuttynose
Brewers Description: Old Ale (also known as “Stock” Ale), is a full-bodied beer with high levels of dextrins. In times past, this beer was typically laid up to mature, hence the name. The color varies from rich, dark amber to a very dark brown. This style features fruity, vinuous & deep, malty flavors, giving it an almost port-like qualities. Sight acidity is not uncommon.
Olive, iconic mascot & spirit guide of our brewery, first appeared on our Old Brown Dog label in 1994 & returned, thirteen years later, to pose for our Really Old Brown Dog, a luscious, malt-rich, full bodied “old ale” featuring deep notes of complex fruit. Much like our beloved Olive, this beer will mellow & age gracefully.
Another stop on my afternoon/evening in Portsmouth and Hampton, New Hampshire was the bottle release of Strawberry Short Weiss at Smuttynose Brewing. This brewery is about 10 minutes from Throwback and located in an industrial park. The building looks a little tired as you can tell from the photos but that is soon to be remedied as Smuttynose is building a brand new facility in Hampton. The new facility will include the brewery and a 95 seat restaurant/pub. From what I saw during the bottle release the brew area is very cramped. The release started at 5:00 and I arrived about 20 minutes after the start.
The line was out the door when I arrived and I waited about 20 minutes to get to the front and get my 4 bottles of Strawberry Short Weiss. Bottles were $15 per and I will be exchanging 3 with some other beer drinkers in the coming weeks. I also purchased a bottle of their Farmhouse Ale from their Big Beer Series as I missed this one when it was released in stores. The employees were pouring samples of the Short Weiss as well as the other beers they had on tap. I only had a sample of the Short Weiss as I was on my way out for the day.
The sample I had was very good and I will do a full review when I open the bottle in the coming weeks. This was a very straight forward bottle release unlike some I have attended by Allagash and others. Their goal was to get the beer out the door and I am pretty sure they were going to sell out of the Short Weiss that evening.
Location: 225 Heritage Ave – Portsmouth, NH
Hours: Thursday & Friday 4 – 7 / Saturday 1 – 4
Tours: Friday 5:30 / Saturday 11:00 & 1:00 – you must register online for tours.
Packaging: A bit of everything
Distribution: Most states east of the Mississippi