Smuttynose Brewing was founded by Peter Egelson in 1994 in the city of Portland, New Hampshire, and has since become one of the giants of the New England craft brewing scene, quickly surpassing the maximum output to be considered a "microbrewery." It now is able to ship its brews in various markets on the Eastern Seaboard, including - of course - Florida. The brewery is named after nearby Smuttynose Island, one of the Isles of Shoals located a few miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. The island itself is home to pods of Common Harbor Seals, which are the inspiration for the company's logo. The brewery has long called the city of Portland its home, but for most of the past decade it has been attempting to move its facilities elsewhere. Credit of course to the brewmaster, whose brews have been so popular that the brewery's output has skyrocketed to over 300,000 cases a year, and the old brewhouse is simply too small. After two unsuccessful attempts to move its operations, Smuttynose has finally chosen a location for its new home. The location is just south of Portland in the town of Hampton, and the property is an old farmhouse. The farmhouse itself was in a less than ideal location, and so as part of the brewery's plans for moving into the lot, the house needed to be moved. You can see the process of moving the house here. It looks like the brewery's new digs will be operational by the end of this year - I wish them the best of luck in getting some quality brewing underway!
Beer: Smuttynose Imperial Stout
Type: Russian Imperial Stout
Poured into a small conic glass. This brew, like most RIS's is inky black, with only the faintest hint of chestnut around the edges. The head is a sturdy mocha cap, and it leaves a hefty amount of lacing around the glass.
Truly, this is one tasty stout. The combination of chocolate and rich coffee does not disappoint, as this brew is both sweet and bitter, rich and smooth, and an absolute pleasure to drink. A light grape flavor lingers in the back, which is augmented by a touch of smoke. Finishes dry and roasty. Superb stuff. Silky mouthfeel, with only a slight booze character to the tongue. Medium low carbonation, coats the tongue well. Long dry finish.
Gotta hand it to the dude at Knightly for setting me up with this brew - very impressive. Again, there's a lot to be said for doing something that's been done, but doing it extremely well, and Smutty has certainly delivered on that front. (Grade: A)
Beer: Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale
Type: American Barleywine (i.e., uses American hops)
A brew shrouded in mystery. In addition to not really understanding the bottle label, I'm not sure why this brew is called a Barleywine "Style Ale", as if barleywine was one of those Eurozone protected names like Cognac and Stilton. It's listed on BA as being a barleywine, and it really tastes like one. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck, I guess. But rest assured, unless there's a technical reason for the naming, I can say to Smuttynose that there is no need for this lack of confidence - this is very much a barleywine, and a damned good one at that. Name it with pride!
The nose is quite inviting, with notes of caramel, toffee, malt, doughy bread, peach, a touch of booze and citrus from the hops. Like the imperial stout, Smutty's Barleywine smells very much like you'd expect a barleywine to do so, but it really hits the mark well.
An excellent barleywine - flavorful and complex. The citrus hops added a nice counterpart to the sweet malty blast that opens this brew. A dry grain flavour to the finish. Subtle notes of peach, apricot, and white wine. Nice chewy mouthfeel, medium bodied, excellent carbonation.
A stellar barleywine that is far bolder than the innocent farmer girl on the label suggested that it would be. Highly recommended! (Grade: A)
Two solid brews from Smutty, which gives me all the more reason to want to explore the rocky shores of the Granite State. Glad to see the brewery's upgrade going well - hopefully a new brewery means greater output and greater chance of seeing some of these excellent brews Ontario-way!
Next up - a sampler from Bell's Brewery of Michigan!