Ride The Lion (Clown Shoes)

Style: Wee Heavy/Scotch Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels

11% ABV

From: Ipswich, MA

Brewery Description: “Descended from a notorious clan of Scottish lore, head brewer Dan Lipke channeled the Tartan tapestry encoded in his DNA to create a formidable Wee Heavy. The beer has been aged 100% in fresh bourbon barrels. Ask yourself, ‘Who needs to ride the lion?’”

The beer pours a dark mahogany color, settling into the glass with a small head of off-white/verging-on-tan bubbles that fizzle away to a thin ring. In body, the beer is a hazy murk of opacity, and when it splashes against the glass it leaves a slick pair of legs to show its booze. On the nose, the beer smells of rich bourbon (Buffalo Trace?), oak, and smooth caramel malt, all accentuated by distinct twinges of fusel alcohol. The beer smells hot like bourbon, and lacks the evening character of oak that many bourbon barrel aged beers have, but makes up for that with bourbon nuance. As the beer warms, I start to pick out hints of minty herbal character, as well as subtle scent I can only list as “pork jam” as it has hints of meatiness blended seamlessly in with strawberry jam. This beer is one to leave in a glass and let it open up, as it continues to unfurl layers as it warms. On the tongue, the beer tastes of woody tannin bitters, hot booze, and very smooth yet nearly sickly sweet malt that somehow stays in check. There is even hints of rounding tartness around the edges of the sip, adding further complexity. This beer is hot, but very nicely balanced as a whole. In flavor, the beer begins as hot bourbon that tastes distinctly of Buffalo Trace to me, though I am not well versed in the art of bourbon. Prickly oak wood tangoes beside subtle smoke, corn alcohol, praline, and vanilla, which round into the middle and finish of the sip where it rounds into flavors of almonds, rich caramel, butterscotch, slight cherry pie, and a flavor that I will again describe as “pork jam” for lack of a better word. To say the least, subtle salty pork flavors blend with jammy sweetness to make a bizarrely pleasant finish. As the beer warms, the fusel alcohol notes back off and really let the rest of this beer out to play. In the mouth, the beer feels on the very light side of heavy in body, with a smooth, nearly watery mouthfeel that nearly deceives the tongue from the beers massive flavors and weight. Carbonation is soft and languid, but the rough tannins and booze do well in scrubbing and biting at the tongue and keeping the cloying sweetness at bay. Only once the beer has left the mouth does the tongue feel sticky and dry, much like it feels after a shot of bourbon. The mouth as a whole, is left remarkably clean and crisp, with a sticky dryness that does little to weigh down the palate. Overall, the beer is a lovely sipping Wee Heavy. I have a personal affinity with the style, and always look to them as the days start to turn colder (is it bad to note that they already have?), and this beer is no exception. I appreciate the more ‘straight-bourbon’ take that the barrel aging took with this beer, but I do wish there was little more balancing oak/smoked malt character playing around, if only to ramp up the flavors a touch. As is, the beer is supremely balanced for the boozy behemoth it is, and while definitely hot with booze and bourbon, provides a lovely little sip. Clown Shoes made another nice sipper.

Étoile Du Maine (Oxbow Brewing Company)

Style: American Saison/Farmhouse Ale aged in Oak Barrels

6.0% ABV

From: Newcastle, ME

Brewery’s Note: “Etoile du Maine was brewed with our friend and fellow farmhouse brewer, Daniel Thiriez of Brasserie Thiriez. This rustic blonde saison has been aged in oak and gently dry-hopped in the barrel prior to bottle-conditioning.”

The beer pours from the bottle, and then sits in my glass the color of blond gold. Lime green highlights lurk within the middle of the beer, yet in body the beer is quite clean and clear, if a bit hazy. The beer pours with a quick spritzy head of sudsy white bubbles that do vacate rather quickly. On the nose, the beer smells of smooth American oak, chardonnay must, and then pineapple brett, cider, drying grass, and slight lemon-lime. It’s a complex, yet fresh and crisp smell, especially for a barrel aged farmhouse ale. The oak is superbly built into the nose at just the right level, giving amazing complexity but not weighing down the beer’s fresh, bright character. As the beer warms, the pineapple brett character does start to turn more towards funky horse blanket on the nose, which is totally fine with me. On the tongue, the beer tastes funky and complex, beginning tart with citric acidity that leads into funky sweetness and further acidity, but then is dried out by ample oak tannin and hoppy bitters. The finish is a citric burst of refreshment. In flavor, the beer begins as tart lime and pineapple juice, which gains a touch of tangerine juice, then slight horse blanket brett with lots of mellow oak tannins giving herbal, tea-like characters. The finish is a beautiful burst of lemon-lime juice with just a hint of smoky oak that does not weigh down the sip at all, but further adds to the complexity. As the beer warms, funky horse blanket starts to stretch into the finish and aftertaste of the beer. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body, with a crisp fully attenuated feel. Carbonation is mild, but the acidity and attenuation keep this beer light and extremely drinkable, especially for the oak presence in this beer. Overall, this beer features some of the best oak presence I have ever found in a light, drinkable beer. The balance is incredible, as I am getting lots of the gritty tannin without their normal weight, and I am getting great farmhouse funk and great fresh citrus. This beer hits my funky farmhouse notes nicely, and leaves me satisfied. I’ve got another bottle aging, but honestly, I am wondering if that is a good choice or not… I guess only time shall tell if the bottle lasts.

On a side note. When you type “etoile du maine” into Google, THIS is one of the first page options…

Smuttlabs Brett & I (Smuttynose Brewing Company)

Style: American Wild Ale

8.0% ABV

(Stats below as of original brewing. This is the third brewing and may have changed.)

35 IBU’s

OG - 16° p

Malt: Weyermann Pilsner Malt, Munich, Wheat, Acidulated Malt
Hops: Bittering – Magnum, Flavoring – Liberty, Flavoring – Saaz, Aroma – Santiam

Bottle: #145 of 616

From: Hampton, NH

Brewery’s Notes: “Brett & I is a 6%, barrel-aged, golden beer that takes 13 months to make. After an initial fermentation with our house Trappist ale yeast, the beer is transferred to red wine barrels where it ages with a Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, a yeast first discovered in British beers. “Brett Brux” adds the slightly sour, earthy accent which makes Brett & I such a rare treat.”

The beer pours a gorgeous sun burst orange with golden yellow highlights. The beer pours with a nice small head of eggshell white color that settles into a fat ring around the glass. In body, the beer is a clean haze, that nearly strikes the eye as opaque, but some shadows do work through the beer and glass. When splashed on the glass, the beer does leave slippery, thin lacing that does leave some tendrils on the glass. The beer also leaves a quick set of legs that then evaporate off of the glass. On the nose, the beer smells of beautiful citrus brett with great barrel accents. Clean lemon, tangerine, and orange juice wash across the nose with pineapple accents and hints of spicy barnyard scents. As it warms, I get tart pear juice scents and the barrel character becomes more dominant. Lovely aroma on this beer; delicate, subtle, fruity, and complex. On the tongue, the beer tastes of sweet, fruity funk on the front of the sip, transferring quickly into rich acidity that gives a softly tart character alongside the sweet funk. With the finish, the beer dries out and gives a unique spicy character with a touch of tannic oak. The spice might be booze, but is not harsh, which leads me to thick it is coming off of a cool ester or phenol or something… In flavor, the beer tastes of pineapple juice, slight tangerine citrus, sweet lemonade, peach, apricot, and then pear juice with a touch of dry cider. These flavors meld into lovely slight oak tannin and doughy bread that takes a nuance of sour dough. The finish has spicy pepper, like a nice farmhouse ale, but this mellows as the beer warms, inviting more tart/yeasty lemonade flavors to enter and further add to the complexity of the sip. As it warms even further I get beautiful accents of peach and apricot flesh and lose all the spice, but that is just lovely too. In the mouth, the beer is medium bodied, with a nice medium attenuation. Mouthfeel is smooth, slightly crisp, and with a lighter, soft carb that gets balanced out by a snap of tartness from the beer. As the beer leaves, the mouth is left lightly damp with slight saliva in the cheeks, and a nice neutral/slightly damp feeling in the mouth as well as a subtle astringency from the oak tannin. Overall, this is a damn fine brett ale with slight tart character (I believe from a sour mash…), and lovely balance, allowing for true nuance to be achieved. The beer is refreshing and complex, and would go nice with a light salad or delicate seafood. This is probably my favorite beer from Smuttlabs so far, and I am very excited for future releases, as they are putting out some nice experiments. Great beer.

Dinner (Maine Beer Company)

Style: Double/Imperial India Pale Ale

8.2% ABV

OG: 1.069

Malt: 2-Row, CaraPils, Caramel 40 & Dextrose

Hops: Citra, Falconer’s Flight, Mosaic & Simcoe.

From: Freeport, ME

Bottled On: 7/31/14

Brewery’s Note: “Our first Double IPA – dry, refreshing and hoppy. We really focused on hop flavor and aroma here. To maximize hop character, we dry hopped Dinner twice with over 6 lbs. of hops per barrel. For the best experience, please enjoy fresh as possible.”

The beer pours a gorgeous, golden, orange, settling into the glass with a creamy, off-white head of minuscule bubbles that lasts at a fingers width above the beer. The head leaves sticky fat fluff of lacing when it rescinds. In body, the beer is a nearly opaque murk of tiny particulates and haze. On the nose is where this beer is king. From the moment you pop the bottle you know you are in for a tropical fruit bomb. Even from a foot away, my glass is oozing fruit salad scent across the nose, but when I get my nostrils nicely in the glass’s bulb, I’m met with decadent and complex hop aromas. Pine resin blends with pineapple, mango, soft melon, and fruity caramel. Alcohol does prickle at the edges of the nose, but only if you search for it, and as a whole the nose just comes off smelling like a hugely aromatic fruit salad with accents of pine. This has got one damn fine nose. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet up front, but with definite bitter balance that builds into the middle and finish of the beer wonderfully. Booze makes its presence known towards the finish of the sip, punching through some of the decadent hop notes while acidity is faintly present on the fringes of the tongue. In flavor the beer begins as pineapple juice, moving more towards pine with flashes of medicinal hops, bright grass, lemon citrus, and grapefruit juice. Slight alcohol and caramel hops enter in the middle of the sip, but the finish of the beer is straight ruby red grapefruit juice with just a hint of booze. The aftertaste is of piney/grapefruity hops. In the mouth, the beer feels medium to full bodied, with a middling carb that provides a healthy scrub to the tongue. Mouthfeel is crisp and effervescent, if a touch heavy towards the finish of the sip. Overall, this is a hell of a Double IPA. I’ve already heard it compared to the Headys and Plinys of the world (gasp…) but I think that was a forgone conclusion. MBC makes some damn fine hoppy beer and this is no exception. This beer strikes towards the top of the DIPA list for sure, and is a true work of art in terms of juicy, tropical fruit hops. I do have some quibbles with it, however, as I do with any beers. For starters, I think the booze could be a little better integrated, as it does add a bit too much heat towards the back of the sip. I also feel that the nose far outweighs the taste in terms of overall decadence and hop character, which can be argued as an attribute of DIPA’s, but since we are talking God-Tier DIPA’s I must say that others of this plateau have met that balance more so than Dinner. The nose is where Dinner is a winner, for sure, and she is a damn fine winner. Drink the beer fresh. Enjoy it. Wait in line for three hours if you want to. It’s a nice beer.

Happy IPA Day every one!

Ethereal Gin Barrel Aged – Realization (Beer’d Brewing Company)

Style: Double India Pale Ale aged in Gin Barrels

9.0% ABV

From: Stonington, CT

Brewery’s Note: “Aged for at least six months in a Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ethereal Gin Barrel. Realization, our pine & grapefruit forward DIPA marries with the floral & botanical gin characteristics, creating a concoction sure to please beer & spirit drinkers alike.”

The beer pours a sickly, oranging yellow color, and forms a creamy head of eggshell-white bubbles with decent retention. When splashed against the sides of the glass, the head leaves very slippery lacing that stays as mere spatters of thin tendrils on the glass. In body, the beer is clean and deceptively murky, with a translucent appearance from afar, yet near-opacity from up close. On the nose, the beer smells of sticky caramel malts spiced with herbal mint and grass. Splashes of pepper, peppermint, and basil tingle across the nostrils. As it warms, definite oak sugars and subtle toasted oak waft into the nose. It almost smells like a minty marshmallow soaked in mild alcohol. As it warms further, the minty spiciness occasionally changes to isopropyl alcohol scents with distinctly spearmint and peppermint notes. This is a hugely complex nose from the barrel aging, and really quite fascinating, though I’m not sure if I’m a fan of it or not… On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet up front, with herbal/medicinal bitterness slowly building into a crescendo in the finish, while soft acidity and bitter tannin move in on the finish. Further sips reveal spicy gin-based booze in the middle and finish of the sip. In flavor, the beer begins as mallow, slight nougat, and soft toasted oak flavors. This transitions into a spicy mint flavor with herbal bitterness and splashes of lemon-juice and bitter pine. These flavors continue into the finish where you see an oh-so-faint pop of fusel alcohol alongside further botanical and mallow flavors that have my tongue thinking mint marshmallows. The aftertaste is of gin soaked oak, though the oak is more prevalent than the subtle gin. The taste certainly deepens as the drink warms up. The barrel is really putting some unique character into the beer. In the mouth, the beer feels a bit too full bodied, yet with a slightly thin, structured and luxuriously smooth mouthfeel. Carbonation is weak but present. Once the beer leaves, the tongue is left sticky with resin/oak tannin, while the cheeks only have slight pools of spittle in their far reaches, and everywhere else seems dry. Overall, I am thoroughly intrigued by this beer, and impressed by the barrel integration, but I’m not sure I like it. This is most assuredly a beer to sip slowly and pick apart as it warms, and I personally feel it is dying for a light, spicy cigar to sit beside it. As is, the integration of barrel and beer is quite interesting, if a touch heavy and on the side of the barrel and booze. The beer flavors are unique, but I am admittedly not the biggest gin fan, so I’m not as wild as I could be about them. I do wish for a bit more of the hop bite up front in the sip to help lighten up the drinkability, but in the end this is a well-executed beer. It’s very heavy, and meant to be shared, but it is unique and impressive. Beer’d is putting out some fascinating beers, and is well worth a visit and a sampling.

Midnight Brett (Allagash Brewing Company)

Style: Dark Brett/Brett Stout

7.3% ABV

From: Portland, ME

Brewery’s Note: “Midnight Brett is chocolate brown in color, brewed with 2-Row, Midnight wheat, raw wheat and rye malt. It was hopped with a blend of Perle, Glacier and Simcoe hops. The beer was fermented with our house strain of Brettanomyces in stainless tanks. The finished beer has the aroma and flavor of fresh berries, sour cherries and a slight roasted character. The finish is pleasantly tart and fruity making this beer very drinkable.”

The beer pours a dark maroon with brown sugar highlights, it forms a small head of fizzing lightly yellowed, tan bubbles with mild retention. In body, the beer is a dark, opaque murk. On the nose, the beer smells of bristling tannic oak with raisin and dark cherry accents and a hint of plums and chocolate. Subtle brown sugar softens the edges of the nose, as well. The beer unfurls more and more as it warms in the glass, and is full of quite a few layers of complexity. On the tongue, the beer begins as tart, nearly sour with fruity accents that unfurl and then are coated in thick roasted malt bitters. The finish is lightly dry and bitter. In flavor, the beer begins as tart dark cherry pie coated in dark sugar with hints of plum. These flavors unfurl into dark, caramelly bread with roasted coffee and burnt toast character. Slight bitter, herbal hops and oak tannin enter on the finish to give structure and further complexity to the sip. The aftertaste is of bitter roast and cherries. As the beer warms, the tart cherry flavors begin to blend in with the middle and finish of the sip, which is lovely. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body, with a strong carbonation that scrubs the tongue. Mouthfeel is luxurious and smooth, with a crisp bite from the carbonation. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly dry, but with plenty of saliva on the edges of the tongue, and a slightly bitter stick to the tongue. Overall, this is a lovely dark sour with phenomenal funk and roast. If I had to label it, I would say more sour brown porter than sour stout, but honestly this beer defies modern categories; it’s a new style that needs to be further explored. This is a lovely sipper that could pair superbly with darker meats or chocolate raspberry desserts. This is a beer to try.

Space Cake (Clown Shoes Brewing Company)

Style: Double India Pale Ale

9.0% ABV

From: Ipswich, MA

Brewery’s Note: “Why are Miracle Mike and this dog being chased by many evil laser beam shooting cupcakes and two giant layer cake mother ships? Because we’re straight up lunatic fools? Well, maybe, but with a few brain cells remaining we managed to craft space cake double IPA, utilizing citrusy mosaic hops and an immaculate west coast style malt backbone.”

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The beer pours a dark, caramel-orange-amber with a fat pillowy head of creamy yellow colored, tiny bubbles. The head has some decent retention and leaves fluffy strings of lacing on the glass. In body the beer is crystal clean and clear, but with a darker hue adding a touch of opacity to the overall look. On the nose, this beer is beautifully full of character. Unripe blueberries, strawberry skin, watermelon, mangoes, slight pine needle and dank weed, as well as the edges of catty scents. The malt backbone is subtle and well integrated into the nose, allowing for this beer to be a fruity fiesta of hop scents. Gotta love those mosaic hops. On the tongue, the beer tastes fruity sweet up front, with a delicate bitterness that builds into a nice strong bitter finish. Subtle acidity dances around the edges of the palate, as well. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet strawberry, watermelon, and slight sweet lemon, this blooms into bready caramel dosed in tropical fruit with a strong shiver of mellow bitter pine and grapefruit pith. The finish is of bitter grass and soft aspirin, which nicely balances out the sweeter hop character. The aftertaste is of soft bitter pine with a nice sweet resiny sense and definite caramel coating. As it warms I start to sense sticky, fruity caramel pudding. In the mouth, the beer feels medium plus bodied with superb smoothness, and a middling carbonation fluffs the tongue with a decadent pillow. The mouthfeel is superbly soft and luxurious, gelling across the tongue like a pillow. Overall, I am a fan. This is my first venture into Clown Shoes hoppy offerings (surprisingly) and I really enjoyed it. The mouthfeel is nicely smooth, velvety, and luxurious, and unique for my venture into DIPA’s. A fine beer from Clown Shoes.

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Roads 2 Ruin (Two Roads Brewing Company)

Style: Double India Pale Ale

7.6% ABV

From: Stratford, CT

Brewery’s Note: “A big, hoppy IPA with plenty of bite! Our assertive, hop-centric Double IPA has a lean malt backdrop and is brewed with four American hop varieties – Summit, Palisade, Cascade and Magnum. Piney, citrus, floral, not-for-the-timid!”

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The beer’s label is quirky and interesting. I like the fonts on the Two Roads label, but there seems to be a little too much clutter. Coloring is simple, but the yellow banner and rattlesnake still manage to catch the eye, which is nice. I like the Two Roads logo, though I am not crazy about it. It’s a decent year-round label I suppose. Do with it what you like.

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The beer pours a hazy, sunburst orange with a nice fat head of slightly off-white, creamy bubbles. When splashed against the glass, the head leaves sticky strands of lacing on the sides of the glass with a healthy lasting-time. In body, the beer is slightly hazy, but clean of any particles with some translucence. On the nose, the beer smells of a classic DIPA. Pine needles, sweet citrus, slight mango, distinct spicy booze, dank weed, and even some mellowing caramel malt which is helping to accentuate the tropical fruit notes. It’s a touch boozy in the nose for my tastes, but has some nice classic hop scents. This is not a game changer, but plays to the style well. On the tongue, the beer tastes initially sweet with citrus fruit, tropical fruit, and bready malt. This eventually is balanced out by a healthy shiver of hoppy bitters, which spike high and mellow into a smooth, balanced finish, carried along by a boozy bite that sometimes seems strong and sometimes is perfectly fine. Acidity makes a slight play in the mouth, but only around the edges of the hop notes. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet caramel bread, mango, and other indistinct tropical fruits. This is mellowed by the strong wash of aspirin, pine resin, and lighter dank weed, which roll into the middle of the sip and provide some nice balancing bitter wash. As the sip moves towards a close there is a huge fusel alcohol note that is quickly washed away in the rich hops and malt, but does briefly poke its head a little too far into the flavor. The aftertaste is of sweet pine and mango. As the beer warms I start to sense slight apricot and peach notes on the middle of the sip, along with golden raisins and sticky toffee malt. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a middling carbonation that provides a nice pillow on the tongue. Mouthfeel for this beer is thicker, yet pillowy, which allows for a touch of crispness, and decent drinkability.  When the beer leaves, the mouth is left deceptively dry and resiny, begging for more sips. Overall, this is a DIPA of classic stock. Pine, citrus, and sticky sweet malt play a nice game on the tastebuds, though the booze is a little too pronounced in both the smell and the taste. It’s reminiscent of Donkey Hote from Throwback, for me, but with more booze and citrus, and less pine. A nice DIPA with year-round status, making it ideal to stock up fridges regularly. Easy drinking hop-wash that will not blow you away, but won’t disappoint either.

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Big Beer Series: Frankenlager (Smuttynose Brewing Company)

Style: India Pale Lager

6.1% ABV

60 IBU   

OG: 15° Plato

Malt: North American 2-Row

Hops: Bittering- Magnum, Flavor and Dry Hop- Saphir

Yeast: WLP-920 Old Bavarian Lager

Brewery’s Note: “When you pour Frankenlager into a glass, you’ll be struck by its deep golden color, clarity, a signature grapey aroma and clean malt character./ Our new, automated, German brewhouse gives us excellent controls over mash profiles, so we’ve decoction-mashed this beer, which helps with the extra clarity, but more importantly, adds the unique grape-like character. It’s a traditional German technique for lager brewing and we’re very excited to be able to use it here. A more efficient boil means a cleaner malt taste and a brighter, smoother beer. By automating, we control all the times and temperatures. On a brewhouse like this, it really is all about the recipe. Our new centrifuge spins out residual yeast and solids to the level we choose, which also means that we reduce waste, while cleaning up the visual appearance of our beer, another significant step forward.”

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The beer pours a paler, straw yellow with golden highlights, forming a lovely, eggshell white head above the beer with nice lasting power. When splashed against the sides of the glass, the beer leaves thin, sheet-like strands of lacing on the glass, reminiscent of Smutty’s Farmhouse Ale. In body, the beer is spotlessly clean and clear, with just a touch of haze. On the nose, the beer smells deliciously spicy, with a nice citrus/white grape character balancing out the spicy hops. Bready malt gives further finesse to the smell, lending it a balanced, Germen-esque twist that separates it from other IPL’s I’ve smelt. This beer has plenty of hops, but they are balanced and deliciously delicate. As it warms, I get a scent of nettles and a cool spring meadow. I like the scent. On the tongue, the beer tastes fruity up front, transitioning into a bready sweetness that is balanced by a healthy, herbal bitter bite that eventually dries out the finish. Slight acidity does begin the sip, and puts a vinous pop to the mouth. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet Riesling, swiftly gaining a bready, nearly rye-like spice that then plunges into grassy citrus with nuances of hay, and a faint kick of pale malt. The spice develops peppery hints, moving from green pepper flesh, to white pepper spice as the beer warms. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a crisp-though-heavy mouthfeel and middling carbonation that gives the tongue a nice fluffing, and a slight prickle. When the beer leaves, the tongue is left with a resinous sheen of spittle, while the mouth feels dry and bitter. In all, despite its heavier mouthfeel, the beer goes down bizarrely easy, making it far too easy to drink (I’ve put that to the test…). This is a lovely variation from the IPA’s-with-Lager-Yeast trend that IPL’s have been following as of late, and it actually piques my interest as to continuation of this style. Look at the complexity and subtlety that can be squeezed from milder/non-American hops used in abundance!

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Working for Smutty, I’ve noticed this beer appeasing Hop Heads and Hop Haters alike, which is a pretty neat thing for a beer to do. It’s not something that will knock you out of the park, but it’s a damn fine easy drinker that is borderline day-drinkable, which is dangerous for its alcohol percentage. I think it should at least hit a 4-pack in the future… I suppose we shall wait and see.

(Also check out my food pairing review for this beer with Chicken Ramen here)

Big Beer Series: Farmhouse Ale (Smuttynose Brewing Company)

Style: American Farmhouse Ale brewed with Pineapple Sage

7.2% ABV

15 IBU’s

OG: 13° Plato

Hops: Saaz

Malt: North American 2-Row, Wheat

Yeast: White Labs WLP-565 Belgian Saison Yeast

Other Ingredients: Pineapple Sage

Brewery’s Note: “Our Farmhouse Ale is an homage to traditional European beers brewed for itinerant seasonal farm workers or “Saisonaires.” A unique Belgian Saison yeast is used to impart a mixture of spicy, fruity, & earthy notes along with lipsmacking palatability. We’ve tweaked the recipe for our Farmhouse Ale a little bit this year, adding a small amount of pineapple sage. The result is slightly amplified fruit character, that really adds to the flavor (but don’t be afraid that we’ve completely recreated the beer).

The beer pours a pale, copperish orange with hints of gold. The beer forms a thin head of eggshell-white bubbles that leave a thin, yet solid sheet of lacing on the sides of the glass. In body, the beer is oddly crystal clear. It has a decided transparency and cleanness of body that is odd for the style. On the nose, however, this beer screams farmhouse ale. Rustic toast meets dried hay, meets corn flake, and then meets spicy hops. When you really shove your nose in it, banana and clove enter the nose to add a slight hefe twist. When I dig further, I start to get some overripe pineapple and very faint peach. On the tongue, the beer tastes fruity, and slightly tart acidity, with a soft balancing bitterness that leads into a very dry finish. This bad boy was dried out to a near full attenuation that nicely pops the more rustic aspects. In flavor, the beer begins as peach and pineapple, mixing in with corn flakes and wheat bread crust. Things take a slight twist towards near-lemon fruit tartness in the middle and briefly with the finish, while spicy hops and peppery esters linger into the aftertaste from nearly the beginning of the sip. As it warms, some slightly unpleasant flavors do establish themselves with the finish, jumping from banana to mustier funk that could turn ugly if this aged. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body with lighter carbonation that still keeps the beer crisp on the tongue. In mouthfeel, the beer feels crisp, yet slightly oily with a decidedly dry/sticky finish. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left dry, but with plenty of saliva pouring from the edges. Overall, this is a rustic, funky saison, and my favorite of Smutty’s Farmhouse iterations. It’s got some really nice yeast character, though some things might hint at rougher musty flavors to come. I do wish the hops were a little more prevalent, but that is my personal taste in saison/farmhouse ales. As is, she’s a nice summer drink with plenty of complexity to interest the tongue.