Smuttynose Brewing Co – Really Old Brown Dog

One of the biggest issues with drinking craft beer is the incredible amount of money you can end up spending on it.  I like to try and keep a full fridge, although it has greatly diminished over the last few weeks, but you can end up spending a bunch of money trying to keep up with all the special releases that come out.  I have a bottle of Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout at home that was $25.  I know you can buy a 24 pack of a lot cheaper beer and have a lot more to drink for that kind of money.  Thus, you really do have to have a passion for beer.  It’s no small weight on your wallet to pursue brews that are made in such limited quantities.  Therefore, I really like to look for beers that are craft but cost efficient as well. Not all breweries are trying to make you pay through the nose for craft beer.

Smuttynose is a great example of a really good brewery that tries to not produce beer that makes you take a loan out on your house to purchase.  They have a Big Beer Series that has brews that are more special, and seasonal, releases you can’t typically get from their brewery.  While some breweries try to charge upwards of $10 for these beers they know will be in high demand, Smuttynose seems to distribute an ample amount at a reasonable price to make sure that a significant amount of people can drink the brew.  I think I paid $6 for this bottle, and that is for a 750 ml.  I understand it isn’t exactly on par with a stout that has been aged in bourbon barrels, but it is still is better than picking up a bottle of Miller Lite because it’s cheaper.

I actually didn’t realize what I had purchased when I first got this bottle.  I typically look at what Smutty has available and pick one up that I haven’t seen before.  This is sometimes done without even reading about it.  It’s cheaper and I like them, so I don’t need to really debate about it as much as some other bottles.  I thought this would end up being an aged version of the Old Brown Dog Ale.  That would be a brown ale.  However, the emphasis here is actually on the Old and not the Brown.  This is an old or stock ale.  I’m beginning to become slightly more well versed in the old/stock ale style, so I was interested to see what Smutty’s version would have going for it.

This beer pours out a deep brown color with some hints of amber in it.  There is tons of thick and creamy tannish head that develops on top.  Swirling the glass reveals tons of lacing and you get a lot of stick residue on the side of the glass.  For some reason the bottle didn’t indicate what the ABV of this bottle was, but you can tell it has some really high and sticky alcohol to it.  There is a definite haze to the beer even though it is quite dark.  Despite the dark color you can see a lot of visible carbonation in the glass as well.

The smell is really sweet overall.  You get a lot of brown sugar and molasses aromas coming off the nose.  Beneath the sugary candy aroma you can pull out a lot of the malty fig, raisin, and date smell.  This beer is certainly dominated by an overall malt base, but you can pull out some really light hops as well.  A slight orangey citrus scent lingers with the sugary sweetness, but it doesn’t manage to dominate the aroma profile at all.

The sweet malts invade the palate and dominate much of the taste throughout the entire flavor profile.  These malts have a big fig and raisin quality that pretty much keeps control of the flavors at the start.  Things get mixed up when the ample kick of alcohol comes in.  Following the alcohol burn you get a lot of sweet brown sugar and molasses flavors.  Interestingly, it seems like there is almost a maple syrupy sweetness that is here as well.  There is a slight little kick of hops before the finish.  The beer finishes with a lot of the lingering candy sweetness and residual alcohol burn.

The mouthfeel has a lot of heavy carbonation at the start which is useful to easing into the big malty flavor.  The consistency manages to go big syrup well before the end, which also helps to bring the alcohol in as well.  The alcohol doesn’t manage to burn quite like some beer, but it is certainly there.  The feel finishes with a rather sticky candy feel to it and some of the remaining alcohol burn.  It’s certainly a slightly heavy beer for sure.

Like I said earlier, Smuttynose makes some really good beer for sure.  This is a good solid beer that is another good example of what Smuttynose does right.  Not everyone will be into an old ale, but I know you can find something you’ll like from them, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money trying to do it.

Teacher Grade: B



  1. Perfect assessment of Smuttynose! A solid brewer that doesn’t sell super expensive beer. I really like their regular line-up: Finestkind IPA, Robust Porter, Shoal’s Pale Ale, and Old Brown Dog Ale. I’ve had a few of their big bottle beers, and they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag. The Farmhouse Ale was very good, and the Homunculus was pretty good too. The Really Old Brown Dog Ale sounds interesting. I saw it, but didn’t pick it up. Not sure if it’s summer approporiate though.

    Nice review!


    • Yeah I agree, I didn’t particularly like their Maibock, but I have really enjoyed nearly everything else. Any brewery that makes me look at them every time I’m in the store is doing okay.

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