Beer review : Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale contends with the canine as man’s best friend

I go crazy for flavorsome brown ales, so I am totally thrilled to finally have access to Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Old Brown Dog Ale, a recent newcomer to the local market. Hailing from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Smuttynose concocts a variety of excellent beers — a delightfully peaty porter, an IPA bursting with Amarillo hops flavor, a big huge quad, a monster Russian imperial stout, and so on. Today, I turn my attention to their delectable brown ale, which won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Fest.

Old Brown Dog pours looking fizzy and dark rusty brown. A short stack of almond tinted foam quickly reduces to a thin layer of tiny bubbles, leaving only the slightest traces of lacing down the sides of an American pint glass.

The sweet, nutty, bready aromas of malt come across clearly, while an underlying tone of woodsy citrus reveals the presence of domestic hops.

Flavors are toasty malt with a little caramel and a very tiny 15 IBU Cascade and Willamette hops bitterness. The level of carbonation is perfect for a brown ale, really well done to balance the grain bill’s richness — Pale Brewers, Munich, Crystal, and Chocolate malt. The 5.9% ABV is not at all detectable, and the finish is crisp and squeaky clean like a rubber ducky; I could drink this beer all day long.

Old Brown Dog has often been cited as an American style brown ale — even on the Smuttynose website. Although hops are minimally present in the nose and flavor, I find the mouthfeel and dominant malt aspect to be decidedly English. No matter how you choose to categorize it, Old Brown Dog is a damn good beer.

To add a little dog joy to the beer joy experience, check out Old Brown Dog Pinups — a page for viewing and uploading photos of dogs, some examples older and browner than others.

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