Style: Red Brett Aged in Oak Whiskey Barrels
Malt: North American 2-Row, Aromatic, Caramunich 2, Brown Malt
Other Ingredients: Dark Candi Syrup, Oak Barrels
Bottle #703 of 848
Brewery’s Note: “Hugs ‘n Rainbows joins Brett & I and our two Short Weiss beers in the ‘non-traditionally fermented” category. This red beer began in stainless steel tanks where it was fermented exclusively with Brettanomyces, a non-traditional brewer’s yeast that does excellent things to beer and makes winemakers quake in their boots. After fermentation ended, we moved the beer in whiskey barrels for eight months of aging, to be sure we got the beer we wanted: tart, yet fruity with a subtle malty note in the finish to keep the beer from drying out your mouth. We look forward to bringin’ more sour beers to you in the future, as we grow Smuttlabs plans.”
[Full Disclosure: I have taken a job as a brewery host for Smuttynose and am thus, no longer an unbiased reviewer in terms of their beer (if I ever was an unbiased reviewer of any beer…). As with all of my reviews, please take this one with a grain of salt and know that these are my personal, flawed opinions, as such, they are not the end all be all on this beer. Reviewing any digestible product is a subjective art. Just keep all of that in mind. Cheers.]
The beer pours a hazy, fiery orange, and sits in the glass as a candied maroon. A smaller head of creamy, yellowing bubbles forms above the glass with slight retention. When splashed against the glass, the beer leaves a thin, drizzly lacing. In body, the beer is a dark and hazy murk with total opacity. I detect no particles floating in this glass. On the nose, the beer is a beautiful funk. Think: caramelly whiskey, tart cherry pie, barnyard funk, pineapple, and oak. There’s a smooth toffee and vanilla note running underneath the other scents. Cherry funk and caramel sweet whiskey are the two big players, though the whiskey has no booziness at all in the scent. This beer has got a killer nose, reminiscent of Cerise Cassee from Cambridge Brewing Company, only less boozy. As it opens up in the glass I start to get leather notes and more barnyard funk. Subtle horse blanket even tickles the nostrils, but is instantly mellowed by the sweet tail-end of this beer’s scent. On the tongue, the beer doesn’t quite deliver the promises of the nose. It begins oddly muted in flavor before opening into more expected flavors. As it warms, the beer opens nicely and loses much of that muted note. It tastes smoothly tart, moving into a fruity sweetness and a tannic bitter at the finish. Soft earthiness from the barrel is dying to come out to play, but is kept soft by the sweetness of the beer. In flavor, the beer begins as tart cherries, moving into cherry pie surrounded by tannic oak with a soft roast to it. Subtle pineapple sneaks in, as well as a touch of salinity, but sweet cherry seems to be the big flavor here. On the finish there is just the ghost of the succulent toffee and vanilla that was in the smell. The finish also carries the strongest blast of barnyard funk and barrel character. The aftertaste is of earthy oak and soft cherry. In body, the beer is on the light side of medium with a decided thinness to the beginning. The end of the sip carries some oomf but the beginning seems a little thin too me. Carbonation is middling with a small snap on the palate. Mouthfeel is slightly gelling, but also a little lifeless. After the beer leaves, the cheeks are coated with saliva while the tongue is left sticky and tannic. Overall, the beer is quite tasty, but it lacks the supreme complexity that the nose offered. I actually think a late dose of lacto would help to spice things up a little. This beer has some wonderful flavors and complexity, though, and should age in the bottle supremely. It opens into a more coherent sip as it sits in the glass, making it an ideal canidate for decanting. Hugs N’ Rainbows is a great picture of the things to come from Smuttlabs, and has good tartness for a brett only fermentation. There is a nice balance, though it could use a little drier of an overall character. Age will probably do just that.