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Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale (Big Beer Series) - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale (Big Beer Series)Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale (Big Beer Series)

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very good

550 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 550
Reviews: 310
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 11.03%
Wants: 39
Gots: 37 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  10.10% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
Olive, iconic mascot & spirit guide of our brewery, first appeared on our Old Brown Dog label in 1994 & returned, thirteen years later, to pose for our Really Old Brown Dog, a luscious, malt-rich, full bodied “old ale” featuring deep notes of complex fruit. Much like our beloved Olive, this beer will mellow & age gracefully.

20 IBU

2007 - 7.0%
2008 - 9.3%
2010 - 10.9%

(Beer added by: cbl2 on 03-03-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale (Big Beer Series) Alström Bros
Ratings: 550 | Reviews: 310 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of babaracas


3.8/5  rDev -2.6%

Pours a mostly clear deep ruby with dark orange edges, two finger cream colored head fades to a thin layer leaving a ring of thin lace. Smell: brown sugar, date, a whiff of pumpernickel, apple, greenish hops that seem to fade after a minute. Taste: caramel, unfiltered apple juice, milk chocolate, slightly nutty, earthy hopping, with a sticky, drying and leafy finish. Sweet and boozy, pretty heavy. Fall 2010 bottling.

10-04-2010 05:31:41 | More by babaracas
Photo of BlackBearForge


4/5  rDev +2.6%

Somewhat hazy dark ruby tinged chocolate brown with a tan head that leaves a thick oily lacing that gradually slides back into the glass.

Dark toasted brown malt meets the nose with a faint alcohol backing.

The flavor is really full befitting the Smuttynose Big Beer tradiiton. Big chocolate malts fill the mouth with a distinct alcohol presence that is not too obtrusive however. While big, I do not find a whole lot of complexity, just big brown chocolate malt with just enough hop presence to provide a balancing bitterness. This beer is all about malts and alcohol. warming provides an even more intense chocolate flavor from the malts.

The mouthfeel is full and chewy, improving rapidly as the beer warms. It's on the medium side of heavy, lightly creamy with just enough carbonation to feel lively in the mouth.

I mentioned this beer is not complex, however that does not mean it's boring. Sometimes a focus on a few aspects really allows a particular aspect of a beer to shine through and Really Old Brown Dog is exactly that, a big (and really tasty) brown ale.

09-29-2010 22:46:39 | More by BlackBearForge
Photo of 7ways


4.22/5  rDev +8.2%

Pours a dark russet brown, fairly murky, with a one finger head that became a creeping ring of large and small bubbles.

Chocolate, mocha, almonds and dried dark fruit dominate the aroma with fall spices and old basement wood. This beer smells old and wise.

The chocolate and mocha disappear when it hits the palate, replaced with raisin, caramel, and cookies. A little smokey on the finish, along with the wood and spice. No hop presence, it's like they seasoned this beer with spicy fruit instead. The alcohol is complimentary, and I notice it more as a vapor than a taste. Almost too sweet, but balances well as it warms.

Low-med carbonation and just thick enough.

This is not exactly traditional, but it is exactly what I personally want from an Old Ale. I bet the bottle I'm going to age will become an A+ beer.

09-27-2010 00:56:30 | More by 7ways
Photo of ManVersusBeer


3.78/5  rDev -3.1%

Picked this one up at the brewery itself.
Pours into my goblet a dark brown like a chocolate lab with a short rim of head. Held up to the light it looks as if it could be a candy apple.
Smells like the Scottish soda Irn Bru, with back notes of herbal tea and ginseng. That's followed with the sweetness of southern-style tea and red bull.
The taste is much more complex with raisins, figs, malt, and sweet candy and brown sugars. Vanilla and brandy give it another dimension. This is smooth and creamy with a creme brulee-like custard feel. The 10% can definitely be felt, but the strong hints at the alcohol go on and off while its velvety richness ultimately outlasts the booziness. Like to try this again with some time on it.

09-23-2010 02:38:39 | More by ManVersusBeer
Photo of jlindros


4/5  rDev +2.6%

This beer is about a year and a half old, so really old brown dog is now really really old brown dog. Should be delicious, and believe it or not this is my first taste of ROBD.

Pours a nice decent sized 1.5 finger head but it's very bubbly and airy, with some light fluff, and fades at a medium pace, and leaves hints of lacing. The beer is a dark copper maroon brownish red color.

Nose comes with lots of brown malts, plenty of brown sugar and molasses, toasty malts, reddish malt aromas, a little fruit, a slight nutty aroma, a hint of boose, and some of that aged malt aroma that typically comes with good old ales.

Taste is very sweet! A little too sweet actually, but has a nice taste. Some nice malts, roasty, toasty, and a little red malt flavor. Plenty of brown sugar and molasses, light syrup flavors, and some nutty flavors as well. A very little fruit flavors, not dark fruits or bright fruits, something in between I can't put my finger on, what would typically come from a red ale, also a little raisin. It also has a nice hop flavor, with some light spicy and grassy hops, and a nice mild hop flavor with some bitterness. It finishes even more bitter as the hops really come out on the finish. A slight salt minerality flavor also on the finish, and a lot more of that aged malt flavor lingering.

The mouth is medium bodied with good carbonation, especially for the age.

It has a decent drinkability, drinks much lighter than 10%, but a touch of booze, some lingering malts that are nice, but it adds a hint of salty minerality as well. A nice chewy flavor too.

09-19-2010 02:39:38 | More by jlindros
Photo of beancounter

New Hampshire

3.38/5  rDev -13.3%

Rating the 2010 batch that was bottled in a bomber.

A-Brown color with little head, slow steady carbonation.

S-Carmel and fruity

T-Similar taste to the smell, although a bit more complex. I can definitely taste the alcohol, which for this beer feels rough going down.

M-Medium thickness

D-This beer is a bit harsh, and as others have said, it would probably benefit from aging.

09-18-2010 23:35:58 | More by beancounter
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev 0%

22oz bottle into a Hopus tulip pours a crisp not too dark brown with a nice frothy khaki head that slowly diminishes to a ring and leaves decent lacing on the glass. Aroma is toasted brown malts, brown sugar, mild cocoa and earthy hops. The taste is a nice amount of sweet toasted brown malts, brown sugar and a nice amount of earthy mildly citrus hops providing a nice backbone to this very sweet brew. The beer is a bit on the heavy side, but it certainly seems like it will tone down with age. This is a very enjoyable beer, I plan on picking up a few more bottles to see how it ages.

09-11-2010 00:22:13 | More by atsprings
Photo of detlefchef

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +8.2%

Wow, I was very, very happy with this beer and I think I've identified a new style to add to my favorites. Between this and NCB Old Stock, I can get with some Old Ale when I'm in the mood for something on the sweet side.

Like a nice tawny port (though not as sweet), it had gracious nutty aromas and flavors and nice toffee on the palate. A very generous beer that was certainly not overwhelming.

09-08-2010 21:33:57 | More by detlefchef
Photo of BeerNinja007

New Hampshire

4.22/5  rDev +8.2%

I picked up a bomber of ye Really Auld Brun Dayg this evening for $5.59 at Beverage King in West Lebanon NH. Label notched as Bottle-conditioned in 2010. Served cold in a chilled tulip.

A semi-heavy pour into the middle of the glass gives a great dense head that builds from the very bottom of the glass in an epic upward cascade of carbonation. This partly cloudy brown brew turns mahogany red against a light. The dense stable foam gradually recedes and leaves an unbroken creamy curtain on the glass. Smell is thick with brown sugar and vanilla, semi-sweet, some warming spiciness, raisin, cognac. The first sip leaves a milk mustache on my lip from the super stable creamy sticky layer of foam lingering on the surface of this brew. The feel is thick and creamy, moderately sweet but far from cloying. Carbonation fights to cut through this viscous brew and is aided by a bit of warm boozy alcohol. Taste is warm and rich with vanilla and brown sugar. This is balanced by spicy alcohol which, rather than being stuffed under the rug (as is typically the goal), is allowed to come forward to fill an essential and welcome role. It makes me think of sweet vanilla custard spiked with liqueur, maybe amaretto.

I really like how well the alcohol blends with the other aspects of this beer. This is a brew that proudly wears its 10% ABV on it's sleeve in a unique way and is better off for it. Strong and filling enough that it has to lose a bit on drinkability.

P.S. (a bit later): it has been sitting for a while now and I'm downing the last few sips. With time, temperature, air, etc, it has developed some off metallic and funky/unappealing herbal notes. So I'd suggest not letting it reach this stage, recommend intervention with appropriate methods of keeping it cool and/or more rapid consumption. (No changes made to rating)

09-04-2010 02:26:13 | More by BeerNinja007
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

3.7/5  rDev -5.1%

From the 2010 series. Sampled on Aug. 31, 2010. The pour is a murky, dark brown with a decent fluffy beige head that settles down and leaves lacing along the way. The aroma is a combination of roasted malts, dark fruit esthers, and a minor dose of hops. The body is full. The taste has a little more of an alcohol pungency than in the aroma but overall the result is malts and bitter hops around the edges.

09-01-2010 00:10:02 | More by puboflyons
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.22/5  rDev +8.2%

Pours a dark chestnut with a creamy pancake head. Smells sweet, almost of maple syrup. Tastes big and sweet and of maple syrup, but there is some firm malt and some earthy hops helping to break things up. This is a big, sweet beer, and as such is definitely a sipper. I'd say late fall, on the deck.

08-29-2010 19:58:41 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of salvo


3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Reminicent of New Holland's Dragonsmilk with less sweetness and more tartness, the malts hold Really Old together. I would swear this tap serving ame from a barrel or firkin aging, but Novare Res in Portland, Maine, offers me no details. It has a huge body, creamy and chewy: it certainly tastes barrel conditioned. I enjoyed this bigger beer, and I don't see the connections to the Old Brown Dog brewed by Smuttynose except for the naming. An excellent high-gravity beer that does not represent the purported style, but I could certainly see craving this big beer.

07-19-2010 03:39:46 | More by salvo
Photo of BeerAdvocate


3.4/5  rDev -12.8%

Beer review from BA Mag Sep 2007.

A bumped-up version of Smutty's Old Brown Dog Ale (sort of), this brew is part of their limited Big Beer Series and brewed to honor Olive--the mascot and spirit guide for the brewery who passed away in March 2007. RIP, girl.

Dark amber with bright garnet hues and plenty of carbonation from bottle-conditioning creates a thick, three-finger head. Bready nose, rustic, with herbal and chicory notes, earthy and nutty. Extremely smooth, silky, round and chewy in the mouth. The solid malty base is sweet, brown sugar-esque and complex. Somewhat fruity, with some plum and apple esters. Toasty malts, very bready and nutty, husky at times, with some light chocolate and coffee. Alcohol is warm and spicy. Very thin bitterness beneath it all. Raisiny. Goes dry toward the end, with a lingering peanut skin character.

An interesting American twist on an Old Ale, but it's far from any traditional examples of the style. Smutty hints that this is a good candidate for aging. We agree, as everything still seems a bit too "green" for the style. However, if you can't wait, like us, we recommend allowing this beer to warm and open up before enjoying it.

07-07-2010 00:15:10 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of augustgarage


4.13/5  rDev +5.9%

Courtesy of ShogoKawada (thanks as always!). 2008 vintage. Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter.

Raw sienna and burnt umber liquid, nearly opaque, and dark enough to withhold highlights when held up to a light. Buff colored pearling collar with a faint oily web on the surface. Remote star field of lacing set amongst viscous panes of tears.

Aroma is laden with dark fruit esters and suggests armagnac, with a backing wave of malt. Light oxidation suits the style. Mildly "dusty" or "leafy" as well.

Potent malt on the palate along with what seems like barrel aged notes from the alcohol. The flavors slowly develop into the finish - turkish apricots, rye bread, cocoa, and nuts. Deep malty medium-dry aftertaste with hints of sherry. There is a faint fresh citrus note in there too. Delicious.

Medium-bodied, a bit creamy, with low but substantive carbonation level. ABV makes this warming but not hot.

More age might enhance the vinuous notes, but this is drinking very well at the moment. There are more complex examples of the style, but the flavors in this are wonderful.

06-30-2010 01:17:20 | More by augustgarage
Photo of mikereaser


3.83/5  rDev -1.8%

Poured form a 22 oz. bottle on 12-19-09.

A - pours a deep chestnut brown with ruby highlights when held up to the light, a 1/2 inch of foam slowly disappeared from the glass

S - dark fruits, some malt, cherries and chocolate

T - very malty base, some cherries, plums and a bit of cinnamon

M - smooth and creamy, a bit of an alcohol burn

D - good flavor, a bit hot to drink alot of but very enjoyable to me

05-24-2010 20:20:55 | More by mikereaser
Photo of DefenCorps


3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

I'm making a sincere attempt at drinking down my cellar, and I'm now confronted with a variety of beers that I not only have no idea why I cellared, but also not worthy enough to take to a tasting. Tonight - the first batch of Really Old Brown Dog, bottle conditioned in 2007. RIP, Olive! Smuttynose were my introduction to craft beers with my first wow beer (Portsmouth Lager) and the first DIPA I remember being blown away by (Big A). Cheers, guys, and thank you!

With a light haze, this beer is a deep crimson red witha dense, off-white head with exceptional retention and lacing. Really, is this a 10% old ale?
The nose is decent. Age is evident in the form of a light staleness to the malt character, reminding me of stale bread. However, this hasn't deteriorated significantly, the light plum notes are gently balanced by a little caramel, a moderate nut character and some old leather. Understated for sure, but appealing too. Mildly honey like, reminding me of the jar of wildflower honey I have in my pantry. Solid stuff

The palate is solid. For its age, it's still surprisingly hoppy with a moderate earthy, leafy character. The hop character, coupled with a light to moderate grainy bitterness forms a great backbone upon which the malt character is allowed to shine. Mildly fruity for sure with some prunes, there's also a solid leather character. The flavors and nose make me thing of an amped up nut brown ale. While there's a touch of stale oxidation present, thankfully it isn't too much. Slightly sweet on the finish with a blend of honey and bitterness, this beer is full in body with moderate carbonation. Alcohol is very well hidden too. Drinking an entire 22oz is going to be a bit of a chore, but I've got all night. Unfortunately, though, I never got around to finishing it. Oh well, I still did enjoy the beer.

05-12-2010 01:23:07 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of mikeyv35

New York

3.55/5  rDev -9%

Date: 04/26/2010
Type: 22oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2008
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Ready to test my theory again, that I have never had a "bad beer" from Smuttynose, and the reason they are one of my favorite breweries.

Poured a hazy light brown in color w/ a big 2 finger cream head and heavy lacing. Nose was of toffee, caramel, light tobacco, and slight dark fruit as expected. Taste was basically the nose w/ a hoppy boozy finish. Pretty hot stuff even at 2 years old. Medium bodied. Initially, I thought I could drink this very easily as I loved the flavors, but at the half a glass point, the booziness started to get to me. Drinkability was poor IMO due to the booziness of this. Looking forward to sampling again at the 5 year mark where I feel this will be tremendous.

Overall, my theory remains untainted, this was a good brew! It was just a little to hot for me at this point in time, more age should do it nicely.

05-10-2010 18:13:40 | More by mikeyv35
Photo of TK5150


4.61/5  rDev +18.2%

2008 Bottle.

The 9.3% alc. Port Soaked Oak Chip Conditioned English Barleywine/Old Ale version, not the 7% alc. Brown Porter edition they made in 2007.

A- Pours a beautiful amber/ruby/brown with a nice beige head.

S- At first it appears vinous with various assorted fruits but then a large maltiness kicks in along with honey and general sweetness, a little alcohol peeks out from within.

T- This stuff has aged tremendously, and is massively complex. Malty sweetness with honey, caramel, apple, creamy vanilla and biscuits. A big strawberry component is there as well. Hints of smoke and maple. Some alcohol and spiciness appear. While sweet, this finishes fairly dry. Hints of herbaceousness (which in this case is not a bad thing). The biscuity flavor lingers in the mouth for a while. Almost a little bubble-gum lingering with the biscuits, weird, but good. Totally rounded out and cohesive. All the flavors mesh so well.

M- Full bodied and like damn silk.

D- I am going to polish this bomber off with complete pleasure.

I am kicking myself for not aging more of these. Smuttynose continues to blow me away. This beer has significantly improved with age. I bought three when this beer came out. I drank one fresh and was not entirely impressed, but I saw the aging potential in it, having both high alcohol and having been conditioned on port soaked oak chips. I had my first cellared bottle about 6-7 months after the release and was excited to see it get better, even though it still wasn't at full potential. Now after close to a year and a half, this has really come into its own. I don't know if this is at its peak but for my money I'm saying its close. I hope they make this version of the beer again.

Review of 2012 in early 2013.

T- Big fruity strawberry peach, pear and watermelon, yes, watermelon.. Caramel drizzled on top. Estery. What a unique old ale.

05-01-2010 00:49:16 | More by TK5150
Photo of ClockworkOrange


3.83/5  rDev -1.8%

A 22 ounce bomber bottle. Label states "Bottle conditioned in 2007". Uncapped and poured into a standard shaker glass. The ale appears a hazed honey chestnut color with barely a fingers worth of off white foam. Nose and flavors consist of molasses, light brown sugar, mild hint of cherry, raisins, a good amount of caramelized malt, plums. Going off the ABV, I expected this to have more body. Certainly does not drink like a 10% ale. Decent overall, but I'm not sure holding on to this for a few years yielded any benefits.

02-26-2010 06:22:38 | More by ClockworkOrange
Photo of sprucetip


3.88/5  rDev -0.5%

From notes. Fluffy off white head with good retention and patchy lacing. Active and clear, medium brown with reddish highlights. Very attractive.

SMELL rich malty sweetness and boozy esters are first impression. Dark fruit adds complexity, but the malty and booze dominate. Has legs. Vague spiciness.

TASTE Dark fruit, strong malty base, evident booze, and vague bitterness lead. Complex, nutty, woody and balanced. Restrained dryness in the finish.

FEEL strong warming sensation, rich full body, modest drying and faint bitterness in the finish.

OVERALL sip, savor, share. Very tasty and complex, but also big, strong and boozy.

12-22-2009 00:20:45 | More by sprucetip
Photo of ShogoKawada

Rhode Island

4.55/5  rDev +16.7%

Obtained from jlindros... thanks! Been looking for this one for a while, we get most Smuttynose in RI but not this one for some reason.

Bottle conditioned in 2008, 22oz into tulip.

A- Brown, a substantial and long lasting head for an old ale. Brown, nice and robust, not too dark but not too light.

S- Plums, deep candied sugar, molasses, caramel. Fruit, very fruity.

T- Wow. A mild hoppiness (citrus and pine) that I assume has mellowed since 2008. Caramel, deep dark fruit, and a very smooth malt make for a very tasty old ale.

M- Heavenly. Creamy, good carbonation, no sign of the ABV. Fantastic!

D- I think another would be trouble, but I want a case of this to sit on. Truly an amazing beer. Wow!

12-21-2009 02:23:58 | More by ShogoKawada
Photo of asabreed

New York

4/5  rDev +2.6%

Bomber into a Brooklyn tulip. Vintage 2008. Smuttynose website says it's just over 9% ABV.

Appearance: Old Ale dark brown amber. Pretty dark and delicious-looking. Off-white head's big at first, then leaves some good raindrops around the glass. Nice murky carbonation floating toward the top.

Smell: A nice amalgam of the sweet and balanced is going on here. Big raisins and vanilla. Almost bourbon-like sweeter aromas and wood going on. Which makes me wonder how amazing this would be if it were indeed bourbon-aged. Some earthy roasted malt. Vinous ripe characteristics. Darker fruit esters. Some figs. Certainly all for fall and winter. The age seems to help here, and the hops, though present, aren't as dominant with the age, which is nice.

Taste: Good notes of figs and raisins on the forefront, with some vanilla and nuts and bread. Booze is woody and vanilla also, and again, almost seems like bourbon. Good vinous characteristics, a lot of earthiness. Cookie dough flavors. Finishes with some nice lingering bitter citrus on the tongue, mingling well with some caramel, dark toffee, dark fruit, and wood.

Mouthfeel: A big brew, with good full carbonation to somehow not make it too cloying. Almost creamy but not quite there.

Drinkability: I'd like to get another and see how it ages after three years, but this seems like a good time to drink the 2008 Vintage. A lot of flavor and a great sipper. Another great effort from Smuttynose.

12-20-2009 20:47:00 | More by asabreed
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev 0%

Pours deep chocolate brown, rich looking body.Chocolate malt in nose. And the mouthfeel is richer than avarage. A great malting experience, with secondary toasting and chocolate. On the sweeter side, not as complex as a few aged old ales I have had from the U.K. itself. Very drinkable.

Bottle from New Hampshire trip.

11-07-2009 23:58:01 | More by Sammy
Photo of DNICE555


3.53/5  rDev -9.5%

On Tap at Redbones

A: Light brown body. Beige head.

S: Nose is not earth shattering. Vanilla, Caramel, Almonds.

T - Brown sugar with a hint of chocolate. Slight bitterness at the end.

M: Medium bodied, medium to light carbonation.

D: Nice hop backbone, high abv. The alcohol is there but not overwhelming.

11-02-2009 20:59:58 | More by DNICE555
Photo of Kendo

New York

3.63/5  rDev -6.9%

Bottle conditioned in 2008. Consumed on 10-23-09.

A: Poured from the bomber into a pint glass. Body is slightly cloudy amber with a hint of copper. Small ivory head disappears fast, leaves behind no lace.

S: Caramel malt, brown sugar and fruit.

T: Dark fruit, cherries and berries. Caramel malt and toffee. Alcohol heat at the finish is strong -- a drying heat. Becomes more fruity as it warms.

M: Body is close to full in heft. Thick and syrupy with low carbonation.

D: A bit too hot and a bit too thick to make this one highly quaffable. Definitely a by-the-fire type of sipper.

10-26-2009 18:46:26 | More by Kendo
Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 550 ratings.