Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog AleSmuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

366 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 366
Hads: 800
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 15.35%
Wants: 51
Gots: 109 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States | website

Style | ABV
Old Ale | 11.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: cbl2 on 03-03-2007

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.

Formerly part of the Big Beer Series.

20 IBU

2007 - 7.0%
2008 - 9.3%
2010 - 10.9%
2014 - 11.1%
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 366 | Hads: 800
Photo of dbl_delta
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage bottle into glass mug.

Drop dead gorgeous reddish amber color with a 2-finger, creamy tan head. Perfect amount of carbonation. Sweet and malty. Alcohol is well hidden - perhaps TOO well hidden. Could be a real adventure for the unwary.

Mouthfeel is, IMHO, perfect. Just enough body to let you know it demands respect, but so slick and smooth that you're immediately anticipating the next sip.

I wish I'd have had the willpower to cellar this one, but I didn't. Might go back and grab a couple more bottles so I can see what it's like with some age on it. Bet it'll be even better.

Overall, I really like this beer. Olive would approve.

 667 characters

Photo of Thirstygoat
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is thin and cloudy with a hint of wood smell. BUT it drinks dangerously easily for 10% abv . Think Newcastle with a hint of sweetness and triple the malt flavor.

 166 characters

Photo of Morey
4/5  rDev +2.3%

2014 Bottle (11.1%)

Aroma was good, but on the mild side. Tasting notes: Darks Fruits, Burnt Toffee, Oak, Faint Cinnamon with a medium body. Looking forward to aging my other bottles.

 186 characters

Photo of M_C_Hampton
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass, red-orange brown colored with a large tan head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: heavy malt, nutty

T: slight dark fruit, malt forward, very earthy

M: heavy with lower carbonation

O: earthy and malt forward brown ale

 277 characters

Photo of keithmurray
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage

Appearance - murky brown liquid with khaki head

Smell - brown sugar, molasses, caramel, tobacco, prune, oak

Taste - similar to the aroma, brown sugar, molasses, caramel, tobacco, leather, prune,
Mouthfeel - full bodied, medium plus carbonation, sweetness upfront and the leather/tobacco on the finish

Overall - decent beer that is a sipper on a chilly night

Price point - $7.99/22 oz bottle

 412 characters

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2013

Appearance: a reddish brown, fresh leather color. a small tannish head that leaves behind a small lacing. hazy and opaque.

Smell: rum soaked raisins, brown sugar, plums, leather and earthiness, booze.

Taste: opens up with some brown sugar, hints of raisins and plums, almost reminiscent of rum soaked raisins like the smell, strong leather and oxidized earthy quality to it, hints towards some chocolate tastes. small amount of booze other that the taste of rum.

Mouthfeel: creamy and silky, but still is chewy. leaves a strong oxidized leather taste behind.

Overall: At a year or so old this beer is fitting in quite nicely to the old ale style. great notes of leather and oxidation along with dark fruits and slightly boozy qualities. some sweetness from possible adjunct usage and a wonderfully chewy-silky mouthfeel. this beer is a must try.

 865 characters

Photo of ExtraStout
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had the 2012 as a guest beer at Amherst Brewing.

A - Pours a murky brown with amber highlights at the edges. Muddy looking beer. One finger head dissipates after a minute or two leaving a thin film, some bubbles & a few splotches of lace.

S - The nose is ripe with good complexity, primarily dark fruits & sugary malts. Notes of raisins, figs, candied malts,caramel, and a bit deeper molasses. Some lighter hops in the end, and spicy booze.

T - Wow, lots of flavor here. Brown sugar prevails, then plenty of fig and dark fruit. Richer molasses as well. Light airy hops mingle in as well. Finishes with a blast of warm, spicey booze.

M - Big chewy bodied beer, slick big bodied beer.

O - Time has been kind to this one. A pleasant surprise, huge flavor profile with plenty of complexity. Gets a bit sweet as it warms, world class mouthfeel IMO.

 851 characters

Photo of ricknelson
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Don't think this beer is getting a fair shake in the ratings. Maybe because it is a brown ale and there are not too many fans of brown ales. I happen to be one. Maybe because Smuttynose is more or less a local New Hampshire brewery. But in fairness to the beer. This is a real great beer in its style. Would rate this as a great everyday beer, like Shed's Mountain Ale or most Sam Adam's beers.
Brown is not a very appealing color for a beer, it pours out with very little head or lacing. It kinda just sits there, but the taste is special, and I feel it deserves a better appreciation for what it is.

 601 characters

Photo of argock
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. Bottle conditioned in 2012 notched on label. Purchased at Market Street Wineshop (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Semi-opaque dark amber with 1-finger of foamy beige head with decent retention but no lacing.

S: Very sweet, buttery caramel-toffee malt aromas dominate with minimal herbal hopping. Yeast esters are bready and a little fruity but subdued. Alcohol singes the nostrils a touch.

T: Very sweet sipper here, drinks like a big beer with toffee, burnt caramel, date, and a bit of rum raisin. Nuty as well -- nice malt complexity overall. Hopping is only bitterness to counter the intense maltiness. Alcohol presence is mild with a bit of warming on the palate and throat. Yeast character is again bready-doughy but not overwhelming. Light bitterness.

M: Very smooth, full-bodied, light carbonation overall.

O: I enjoyed this beer but about 12 oz is enough -- big body and intensely malty with a nice use of alcohol presence in the background to remind you this is a big beer.

 1,040 characters

Photo of superspak
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2012 vintage bottling. Pours fairly crystal clear deep ruby red color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big biscuit, caramel, toast, molasses, brown sugar, light chocolate, raisin, plum, nuttiness, vanilla, toffee, herbal, oak, light leather, and toasted earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, oak, and yeast ester flavors; with great strength. Taste of caramel, biscuit, toast, brown sugar, molasses, light chocolate, raisin, plum, nuttiness, herbal, vanilla, toffee, oak, light leather, and toast/oak earthiness. Minimal earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, biscuit, toast, molasses, brown sugar, light chocolate, raisin, plum, nuttiness, herbal, toffee, oak, vanilla, light leather, and toast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and oak flavors; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a moderately creamy, smooth, and fairy slick/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding old ale style. All around awesome complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast ester, and oak flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

 1,558 characters

Photo of Jonada
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with no freshness date. 10.4% ABV. Served in a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with 1 finger of a light tan head head that dissipates to a thin ring. Body is dark and hazy but not opaque.

Smell: Booze soaked dark fruits, raisins, dates, vanilla, sweet malt

Taste: Dark fruit, toffee, and vanilla, with some milk chocolate and roasted malt character that wasn't present in the aroma. Slight earthiness in the finish helps balance the malt sweetness a bit.

Mouthfeel: Medium/full bodied, somewhat sticky mouthfeel. Medium levels of fine carbonation. Booze is definitely there, but the beer isn't hot by any means. Goes down smooth.

Overall: Really impressed with this one. Super flavorful and complex and at $6-7 per bottle, a really good value, which seems to be becoming more and more rare these days. Highly recommend picking up a couple bottles to drink and throw in the cellar.

 912 characters

Photo of KYGunner
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This poured a nice hue of filtered mahogany that supported a uniform and cohesive bed of lightly colored foam.

I get a lot of barley on the nose with chocolate and caramel malts. There is a back of dried fruit, maybe raisin, with a strange musty air.

The flavors have a prominent raisin, earthy and natural, with some sweet chocolate malt.

The feel is moderately thick, smooth with a low carbonative bite.

Nice Old Ale like qualities in this , just needs a bit more complexity.

 482 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, 2010 vintage

pours a dark cloudy amber brown. thin cream colored head. decent head retention. smells a bit boozy, rich carmely malts. toffee, vanilla, whiskey, raisins. taste is not quite as sweet as expected. malty, but not as bold of flavors as the aroma. medium body, lower carbonation, slick feel. aging well.

 328 characters

Photo of Ohiovania
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I believe the recipe has changed slightly since when they were distributing this beer in bombers. Still very enjoyable but a slight notch down from what it was.

 160 characters

Photo of thecheapies
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Old Brown Dog from 2012. Poured it into a Chimay goblet. Nice clarity through a penny-red copper color. The head gathered up decently, but it's almost all gone now. Some bubbles and foam scum remain.

Tempered caramel malts show some notes of papery oxidation and English toffee crisp. There's some lingering scents of dried apricot, vanilla, and light diacetyl. I was expecting a bigger nose, but this one is reaching. Hints of dried fruit are permeable.

Toffee and caramel sweetness with a figgy fruit base and English malt tang. Bristly hops have an afterthought of pine, whilst some caramelly candy notes evolve into subtle oxidation. A good bit of vanilla is produced. Limited is its full potential, or should I say it might have gone by. The fruit notes have really dried up and all of the sweetness therein is produced by malt sugars extracting like darker complex sugars. Hints of chocolate and Cadbury creme.

Still carries a lot of the original gas. Good strong carbonation, which is to say, that it's only right about medium. Nearly perfect for this effort. The body is slurpy, but only medium. Not very boozy, sneaky that way.

A formidable old ale. It really did age okay. It warmed up and changed my whole perspective.

 1,233 characters

Photo of fank2788
3.41/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle split between a couple of tulip glasses
A dark somewhat murky mahogany brown in the glass with a good bit of lace and a fine layer of tiny bubbles on top. Caramel and alcoholic sweetness in the nose, along with a bit of dark fruit and maybe some slight esters. This is a fairly sweet beer the high alcohol is also pretty noticeable. But there is more to the taste than just that as caramel is also very strongly present, there isnt much there in terms of hoppiness but there is a bittering character to somewhat balance the sweetness. Pretty slick mouthfeel as the sweetness really lingers for a long time, carbonation is pretty low which helps the beer feel pretty heavy and the alcohol brings a warming character to the beer. Overall, while this is a good beer, I was hoping to like it more than I do, it is a nice sipper although too sweet for me and I'd wish for the malt to be more complex as that seems to be somewhat lacking.

 944 characters

Photo of miclormic
2.52/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

At first sip I thought this would be a nice brown ale , but, it has some strange taste that I cannot describe,it is a bitter taste that hangs with you after each mouthful. Kinda like biting into a rotten nut , yuck! I had high hopes upon first sip but actually dumped the rest of my pint and the remaining bottle contents down the drain. I have only dumped a few beers down the drain in my life and this is one of them.

 419 characters

Photo of Levich
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

This one pours a rich dark caramel color that turns ruby tinted when the light passes through. There is a light brown head that settles a bit, but never goes away completely.

The aroma is of caramel and dark fruits like raisins and prunes. It's a very pleasing smell. The flavor mimics the smell somewhat starting with the burnt caramel and some dried dark fruits. There is a moderately unpleasant flavor that shows up on the back of the tongue for a moment. It's like a hospital-ly sterile flavor (sorry about this description - probably a yeast off flavor). But that gets overpowered by the malty sweetness and a touch of bitter hops to finish nicely. The strength is masked nicely with the sweetness with no real booziness to detect. The mouthfeel is nice. It's rich and creamy with just a bit of carbonation to lighten out.

Overall, this is a pretty good beer. I wish that "off flavor" wasn't there as it would make this a really great beer.

 994 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dark brown with one finger head that stuck around and a strong malt smell - hit me immediately - as I got chocolate, toffee, caramel, a touch of roasted or coffee malts, and something akin to molasses or syrup and there is that "dark fruit" aroma (figs, black cherries, not sure). Thick, full-bodied, slightly chewey and heavy, this is not a beer if you like 'em light or not sweet. The sweet malts overpowered everything but since I have a sweet tooth the balance was just right for me. Caramel, toffee, chocolate sweetness and a bit of sticky syrupiness or molasses as well, but there is a touch fruit sweetness (I swear I picked up cherry). The alcohol is low key but does contribute to a dryer finish. Very slow sipper for me and one that I really enjoyed.

 776 characters

Photo of tut2528
3.36/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: pour is of a typical Old Ale, dark amber in color and when its backlit it becomes slight transparent and picking up a ruby hint. head was minimal and slightly tan in appearance.

S: picking up a slight bit of roasted nuttiness, vanilla, caramel/toffee, slight grain and more of a berry-like dark fruit at the backend.

T: not a fan of the balance here. again i get the typical Old Ale qualities such as vanilla and caramel sweetness. but there's a peppery spice, nutmeg and a nuttiness (hazel/walnut maybe both) that just doesn't sit too well in this brew. i also pick up on some dry bitter hops in the finish. and its slightly watery. i feel that this brew has no true identity.

M: i feel that the body fits the beer. its a solid medium bodied brew, minimal carbonation. doesn't leave much on the palate though between sips. and surprisingly, the alcohol heat is extremely well integrated for it being 10.10%.

O: the best component of this brew is how well the alcohol is hidden, but other than that, I am not a fan of this brew. simply off balance and a lack identity here.

 1,084 characters

Photo of rlee1390
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Clear ruby in the glass, some carbonation, one finger head with some lacing.

S-Starts with a good deal of malt, caramel, toffee and vanilla.

T-Nicely balanced, caramel, toffee, dark fruits, vanilla, grass, slight bitterness, candided sugar, maple and oak.

M-Medium bodied, slight carbonation, not much, but a hint, of alcohol.

O-A solid well made Old Ale. Adam an its variants are better. But for the price, this one is hard to beat.

 439 characters

Photo of UnderPressure
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Inventory sticker reads 4/20/12. Drinking on 7/1/13

Very dark amber to light brown colored beer. Very nice creamy white head with great retention. Awesome lacing.

A nice aroma of sweet malt and spice. Spices are reminiscent of Christmastime Ginger/gingerbread, maybe some clove. I detect no hop aroma.

Very sweet flavor balanced by spiciness. Dark fruit. Some staleness and oxidation. The spices kind of linger after swallowing and tingle on the tongue.

A very thick, creamy mouthfeel. Highly carbonated, almost like a Belgian. Bitter, spicy, wet, long lasting finish.

I didn't taste this one when it was fresh, but I still feel like the flavors have probably blended well over the past year. I think this beer has probably improved other than being oxidized and a little stale. It wasn't always kept at cellar temps.

 822 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 Vintage

A: Pours a crystal clear medium reddish amber in color with some moderate amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the surface of the beer and some copper + crimson red highlights. The beer has a little more than a finger tall creamy foamy tan head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer with a slightly thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of caramel and toffee malts that have some sweetness to them along with some lighter notes of alcohol, vanilla, and just a hint of dark fruit (raisin).

T: Similar to the smell, the beer has a moderate to strong flavor of caramel and toffee malts with a light to moderate amount of sweetness that is followed by some light notes of vanilla, dark fruit (raisin), and just a hint of alcohol. There is also a faint underlying pine hop bitterness that lingers.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky with just a hint of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: There is a nice complexity to the flavors and aromas of this beer but I just wish that the alcohol was a little more well hidden in it. I enjoyed the beer and it feels like it is somewhere between a brown ale (maybe an imperial brown ale) and a barleywine.

 1,318 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.66/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

(the bottle appears to be a '12 or '13, however, the lower corner of the label, where this is listed had a price sticker on it that was ripped off, taking some of the label with it)

A: really bright and almost as clear reddish-brown color.... good amount of frothy head on the pour, stays only in a thin pad atop.... the clarity thing is a little odd to me, as if I wasn't expecting it...

S: hmmm.... slightly-solventy, somewhat sweet booze and old oven-browned graham cracker crust.... if you strain, the quality of the (i'm guessing) light-mid crystal malt in combo with everything else makes for an almost barleywine-like smell (sans hops), but not quite... weak aromas overall with the old-bread-crust malt aroma dominant.... not terribly inviting

T: wow! what are they going for here? this is interesting, at the very least.... I suppose it resembles a more "premium" version of their brown ale... the caramel flavor and overall crystal malt foundation is rich and tasty, however, there seems to have been a fermentation "mishap"?.... strange sort of gin-but-not-gin (ouzo?!) herbal accompaniment to the solventy/bubblegum-schnapps/chlorophyll(?) finish... this initially quite off-putting element slowly fades behind the malt and it ends up balancing out ok, but not really

M: very lovely... medium-full right past the lips, it holds soft and smooth for a moment and then quietly creeps away with a brief push of nearly hot ethanol smacking the back near the soft palate

O: strange and nasty right out of the gate - give it few swirls and some time to air out and warm and it's not all that bad.... I think that it's not too often one (me) comes across a double-strength brown and can be unprepared, however, the alcohol could be thought of as harsh and a good year or two hiding this away could fix that

 1,815 characters

Photo of shand
4.16/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really Old Brown Dog ale is a really tasty old ale loaded with dark fruit, deep and toasty malt flavors, and a solid booze kick. It's rather drinkable for the high ABV, and provide quite a bargain. Overall, Really Old Brown Dog is one of the best values on the market. Five bucks for a tasty bomber is really hard to beat. There's real depth of flavor here - it almost tastes like a BBA beer with the rich malt and boozy tones.

 427 characters

Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 366 ratings.