There are some types of beers I definitely am not well versed in. I think that is one of my favorite reasons for writing this blog. My goals when looking for beers is to find something I’ve never seen before, trying things I’ve wanted to try for a really long time, or learning the finer points of different styles of beer. This is basically one of those instances. Of course, I do have to give credit to my source for this particular bottle: John. If you have been a reader of Lyrics, Libations, and Life for a while, then you know John did some reviewing on the past Battle of the Trippels. He saw this one and new it would be perfect for a “Triple L” review. (Man I’m a loser)
There isn’t a whole lot of information I have found about Smuttynose. They seem to be a pretty low-key brewery. They are a brewery out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Having only been around a little over 25 years, they have really developed a pretty strong catalog of beers. They brew 5 beers all year-round, they have a big bottle series (of which this bottle is a member of), and they also have a pretty good seasonal selection as well. Although I have only ever really had their Old Brown Dog Ale, I know these guys brew some pretty good beer.
Bock is a style of beer unto itself. There are many different variations on that initial style. Bocks by themselves are a strong lager of German origin. Being German myself, I am always supportive of all things German. Well, all present things things German anyway. Variations of the bock style are maibock, doppelbock, and eisbock. Maibock is similar to the traditional bock in that it is still a strong German lager; however, it is lighter in color and has a higher hop presence. This essentially is the summer version of the traditional bock.
As for this particular bock, we were surprised to see a cloudy and sandy pour more similar to a hefewieson. There is minimal white head even with a strong pour. We knew going into this one that it would be lighter than a bock, but I think we were expecting a color that might look a little less like it deserved an orange slice. The minimal head that develops isn’t of immediate concern as it does have a slight sticky residue that develops on a nice little swirl. This created a little hope that we didn’t end up with a bad bottle.
The nose has a blend of cinnamon and caramel which you’d expect from a malty beer and the citrus and herb you’d expect from a hoppy beer. The complex nose doesn’t give any hints to the flavor; however, it was surprising to pull some hops out of the nose since most bocks are not heavy on the hops. Since the description only says a higher hop presence, we figured it would be more mellow on the nose. It does leave you with a slight feeling of summer; however, it is clear that is has to be a German summer because an American summer has a much different lighter feel to it. Something that is a little more hops and a little less malt. I think that’s why I hate America in the summer. Well at least the part of America where we live.
Tasting wise, it starts with a very earthy malty feel. This has a a very interesting spicy clove flavor in there for the start as well. It is a really good start to the beer; however, unfortunately it doesn’t all stay that way. Halfway through you do get that more American summer feel. You get that quick citrus hint in there before the hops come in. The hops are a lot stronger than we were expecting. The hops however begin fade into a very bitter taste that is hard to shake. I am not certain if it is the particular hops they use, or if it happens to be something else that is in the recipe, but bitterness lasts for a really long time before finally dissipating into the finish.
The mouth feel of this one is a pretty moderate helping of carbonation. The carbonation isn’t really at the forefront of the taste; however, midway through, about the same time you get the hops, the carbonation is pretty noticeable. The other very noticeable thing is that it has a rather boozy feel. In the end it becomes a battle between the booze and the bitters. I think the bitter may win, which really isn’t a big compliment.
Ultimately we had really high hopes for this one, but it just didn’t seem to pan out the way we thought it would. We saw that Beer Advocate had this one rated between an A and A-, but I don’t think either of us thought it lived up to those standards. I would really like to try another maibock pretty soon to see if I’m not a huge fan of maibocks or if I’m not a huge fan of the Smuttynose version.
John Rating – It’s like when you order Chinese food when your drunk. It seems like a good idea, but in the end, it’s not.
Gary Rating – C