Smuttynose Old Brown Ale is a fantastic American Brown Ale that was inspired by Olive, the dog that graces the label. Unfortunately, Olive died on March 15, 2007, just a month after the release of Really Old Brown Dog Ale. If you are a dog person, the label image will just about bring you to tears.
Really Old Brown Dog Ale is part of Smuttynose Brewing Company’s impressive Big Beer Series. It is bottle conditioned–I cellared this one for about 4 months, but I have another that I am going to save until next year.
For those of you not from New England, Smuttynose is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The name comes from an island on the Maine/New Hampshire border. The label states: "Olive, iconic mascot and spirit guide of our brewery, first appeared on our Old Brown Dog label and has returned 13 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 and age gracefully."
This beer has a rich garnet brown color that pours to a thin, tight head with decent Belgian lace. It has a very pleasant raisin and currant aroma with a touch of milk chocolate. The Really Old Brown Dog is medium-bodied with a nice, light carbonation, and it finishes with a tea-like dryness. Actually it is much drier than I had expected. Hop flavors develop more and more with each sip and help balance off the rich malt sweetness. It is pretty complex, with tastes of pear, plum, candy sugar, chocolate, caramel, pepper, and even the faintest touch of espresso at finish. This beer is 7.0% abv and I find it very smooth and drinkable.
While it is very good, I am anticipating that my second bottle with taste even better after an additional year. I am toasting Olive while I drink this one. My little beagle is curled up against my leg as I type--there really is nothing better in life than a great dog.
Here's to Olive.