2014 Big Beer Series: Zinneke (Smuttynose Brewing Company)

Style: Belgian Stout

8.7% ABV

50 IBU’s

Malt: North American 2-Row, Carawheat, Munich 10L, C-120, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Brown

Hops: Magnum, Glacier

Yeast: Trappist Ale yeast

Other: Dark #2 Belgian Candi Syrup

FG: 19° Plato

From: Hampton, NH

Brewery’s Note: “Named in honor of the doggy denizens of Brussels, this hybrid beer is a mix of what we love best in a big, roasty stout, but fermented with a Belgian yeast, which brings out a beautiful, fruity nose./ This relatively new sub-style combines Belgian, American and English influences to create a beer whose total is more than equal to the sum of its parts. Here’s how Zinneke breaks down and adds back up. Start with a strong stout. This is the Big Beer Series after all… then “Belgianize” it by altering the grain bill and fermenting the wort with a Trappist yeast strain. We backed off the heavy caramel and roasted malts to create a more complimentary flavor profile for the yeast, which contributes fruity esters and a light body. These parts combine to create a beer with dark color and light body with prevalent flavors of dark fruits, vanilla and toffee, while subtle chocolate flavors appear in the finish.”


The beer pours a chocolate black, like that cake that your aunt brought to the Christmas party this year. The head is a straggly thing of wispy, khaki-colored bubbles that doesn’t stick around. The beer is opaque and impenetrable to the eye, even when brought to the light, which is proper. It reveals chocolate brown edges, but keeps its inner heart as a dark secret. When splashed on the walls of the glass, the beer leaves thin globules of lacing, which slowly slink back to the beer. On the nose, the beer smells of chocolate-dipped dark fruit with a touch of coffee roast. As I linger over the beer, I detect cinnamon and holiday spices (probably the phenols?). The dark fruit also builds, giving the beer a festive tinge (although this isn’t exactly a festive beer…). On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet with a light bitter roast, twinges of dark fruit acidity, and a brief touch of metal. The roast carries touches of earthiness as well, especially on the finish and aftertaste. In flavor, the beer tastes of medium roast coffee with a sweet malt twinge, definite dark fruit, and a nice yeasty spice and funk. There is even a touch of apple juice in the middle and finish. The finish is longer and full of Belgian funk, sort of like a Belgian dark ale or a dubbel, only with the added touch of roast malt. The aftertaste is of light roast coffee, and chocolate-dipped cherries. In the mouth, the beer is medium plus bodied with a smooth, syrupy, and nearly-chewy mouthfeel. Carbonation is negligent, but there is a slight astringency to the tongue that lightens the sip and keeps away the beer’s more cloying notes. It leaves the mouth slightly tight, with a very light sheen of spittle all over, and a slight pool forming in the far cheeks. Overall, this is a nice, mellow Belgian stout. It warms nicely, but does have slight hints of weird funk as the beer warms, similar to the Smutty’s Farmhouse Ale. Strange enough, the weird funk works better with roasted malts. I like this beer, though it doesn’t blow me away.


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