Beer of the Week: Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Way back in my college days, we were in the early years of the craft beer revolution. I was living in Boston and that generally meant that craft beer was either Sam Adams, Harpoon, Rogue or Red Hook, all beers that were generally from sizeable enough breweries they had at least regional distribution. I remember going into the package store in the mid ’90’s (what is a package store? That is for another post) and seeing a beer from some new brewery in New Hampshire (a whopping 40 miles from Boston) with a harbor seal as its logo. I remember looking in the case and seeing they had 2 beers – Shoals Pale Ale and Old Brown Dog. Since I was on a limited budget, I went with the 6 pack of Old Brown Dog (hey, what can I say, I am a sucker for a good dog picture), thus beginning my long love affair with the beers of Smuttynose Brewing. They have since expanded their brewery and are regionally distributing to most states east of the Mississippi (sadly, not out on the West Coast). When I was back in NJ over the winter, it afforded me an opportunity to pick up a 6 pack of this old friend and bring it back to Seattle with me.

From the Smuttynose website:

Old Brown Dog has been cited as a classic example of the “American Brown Ale” style of beer. Compared to a typical English Brown Ale, Old Brown Dog is fuller-bodied and more strongly hopped.

Old Brown Dog has been around for many years. It was first brewed in 1988 at the Northampton Brewery. In 1989 it won a silver medal in its category (American Brown Ale) at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Color: deep reddish brown

Malt Bill
North American 2-Row, Munich 10L, C-120, Chocolate

Hops
Bittering: Cascade and Galena
Flavoring: Willamette

Starting Extract  15° Plato
Terminal Extract 3.26° Plato

ABV 6.7%

IBU 18

Recommended Food Pairings
Griiled meats, especially sausages, ribs and steak

Silver Medal 1989 Great American Beer Festival

obdsix-2The beer pours medium amber in color with a cream colored head. It shows significant notes of grain and yeast with hints of toffee and caramel supporting. The beer starts out with a light sweetness coupled with hints of toffee followed by pleasant grain middle with just a hint of roast flavor and malt before finishing dry with an ever so slight pleasant bitterness that lingers happily in a semi-long finish. As the beer warms, the deeper roasted and toffee flavors become more prevalent, particularly on the finish where it lingers pleasantly with the light bitterness. Deep and complex, I had no idea this beer was as high on the alcohol content as it is, since it is well balanced without any hints of the alcohol. If you ever get a chance, give Smuttynose Old Brown Dog a shot.

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog comes in from the yard and gnaws on 3 bones out of 5.

On a side note, a few years back, Smuttynose did a one-off, imperial version of this beer called Older Brown Dog. I wanted to try it and I was able to find a single bottle of it on a trip back to Boston. I shipped it back to Seattle, but it, alas, did not survive the trip, and I never got a chance to try the beer.

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