Style: Irish Dry Stout with Rye
From: Portsmouth, NH
The beer pours into my Smuttlabs graduated cylinder/strange glass as a dark, properly chocolate black. Cool glass concept, and thank goodness Smuttlabs is pumping out kolschs…? A small head of pebble-like bubbles the color of dark, wet sand forms above the beer and slowly withers away, leaving slick and slimy sheets of lacing. In body, the beer is murky, dark, and impenetrable. On the nose, the beer smells like a stout. Semisweet chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, touches of cocoa and cereal grains, and perhaps just a wisp of spicy rye, but that’s when I dig for it. On the tongue, the beer tastes, again, like a stout. Healthy roasted bitters mingle with slightly sweet chocolate, slowly divulging into an astringent bitter finish that has hints of hops. Mild acidity can be felt in the middle of the sip, reminiscent of dark fruit character, and the roast does take some slightly earthy tinges towards the finish, briefly touching metallic. In flavor, the beer tastes of coffee, dark chocolate, a touch of cocoa, a touch of metal, a touch of milk chocolate. Perhaps also a touch of cereal grains, though I think the rye is just too delicate of a flavor alongside the roasted stout qualities of this beer. The rye doesn’t really shine through at all. The finish of the beer is smooth chocolate with just a touch of spice, hops, and coffee. The aftertaste is of herbal hops. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a lackluster carb that leaves the beer feeling creamy, yet soft and slightly watery on the tongue. When the beer leaves, the tongue and cheeks are left slightly astringent as a sheen of spittle settles over everything. Overall, this is a really nice, easy drinking stout. I don’t think that this should be sold in a corked and caged, 375 ml bottle for $6+, however. This would be an awesome beer to see in a four-pack, a six-pack, or perhaps as a one-off to feature in a pub with food. It’s a Guinness-like beer in style, but I’d say it beats the snot out of Guinness in terms of complexity, and how enjoyable it is to sip, I just don’t think the asking price is right. Smuttlabs is making some neat little experiments that stroll off the ‘traditional Smuttynose path,’ but they’re asking price is a little too steep. For beers like Hugs N’Rainbows, Brett & I, Brandy Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, and Barrel-Aged Tripel the steep price and fancy format works superbly, but for something like an easy drinking stout, a white IPA, or a hoppy hefeweizen, I feel like a different format and price range is more ideal. They’re doing a great job, I just wish they’d throw a bone to their loyal fans, and maybe loosen up too encourage the beer geeks to give Smuttlabs more of a try. In summation, this is a good beer that is not worth its price, simply because there are enough comparable beers for far less money. Smuttlabs has been great so far, but I think they need to rethink how they are putting those beers on the market. As far as experimental beers go, this beer sucks, as it is mundane. As far as stouts go, however, it’s great, easy drinking, and deserving of a six-pack for sure. I could drink this all day.