Really Old Brown Dog Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Company

very good
388 Reviews
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Really Old Brown Dog AleReally Old Brown Dog Ale

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.10%

Availability: Year-round

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.

Formerly part of the Big Beer Series.

20 IBU

2007 - 7.0%
2008 - 9.3%
2010 - 10.9%
2012 - 10.1$
2014 - 11.1%

Added by cbl2 on 03-03-2007

For Trade:
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Reviews: 388 | Ratings: 872
Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber from The Lighthouse in Manchester, Maine. Pours a translucent copper body with virtually no head. Caramel, chocolate, toffee, and raisins dominate the aroma. Raisin and toffee are strong parts of the flavor, with some caramel, citrus, chocolate, maybe hints of a peat like flavor. Full bodied bordering on viscous with moderate carbonation. Definitely a sipper for sure. Overall, a tasty sipper great for a cold winter night like tonight. Good stuff.

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

Pours a dark amber, nearly brown color with a large, two finger bubbly off-white head, nice lacing, fairly clear on the first pour. Aroma has a nice spicy attribute, some dark fruits, brown sugar, a bit of earthiness, and very sweet. Taste is very sweet, plenty of brown sugar, loads of caramel, some nuttiness, maple syrup, some dark fruitiness, raisins/grapes, just a touch of chocolate, light bitterness, and some alcohol heat. Mouthfeel is on the high end of medium, nice and creamy, appropriate carbonation. This is a very tasty beer. The sweetness can be a bit cloying, and the alcohol is a little noticeable, but it's very tasty nonetheless. Thanks to Rochefort10nh for giving the chance to try this one!

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

22-oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A = Dark amber like a good maple syrup with foamy yellow-orangish light tan head that resolves into a thin layer of foam.

S = Light oakiness, almonds and walnuts, some bitter herbs.

T = An almond nuttiness with a chocolate-maple syrup taste balanced by a fair bitterness on the front of the tongue and mid-palate but disappearing in a long sweet finish. The only drawback is the alcohol seems a bit too noticeable.

M = Heavy body, luxurious thick feel with light foaming, great mouthcoating.

D = I really like this beer but the drinkability is maybe just slightly lower than it could be due to the strength of the flavors and alcohol feel.

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Photo of alyankus
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours out nicely. Decent head with good lacing for the style. Great color, a clean clear brown.

Nose:Bourbon cedar and floral notes

Palate:Slightly sweet with lingering notes of Bourbon and high quality tobacco subtle undertone of vanillin on the finish.

Good beer but not what I had expected. A nice Old Ale for those looking for one that isn't overwhelmingly sweet. Just balanced right enough to make finishing a bomber possible.

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Photo of Stimack
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brew pours to a somewhat cloudy brown color with a nice sized light tan head. Nice lacing down the side of the glass. The aroma consists of roasted and dark malts, burn brown sugar, caramel, fruit (plum, pear?) and a nice alcohol scent, slight wine like smell (?). The flavors here seem to be a little raw in my opinion, seems like they need to settle out a bit as the alcohol flavor seems a little hot. While that flavor seems to be a little hot the rest of the flavors though raw are nice. Roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, plum and raisin seem to come to mind. As I said earlier the alcohol flavor is there and seems to really to be coming out as the brew warms. Nice warming feeling, growing on me as I make my way through this one, it feels like it would be bigger than 7%. I will pick up another one of these and sit on it for a while to see how it does in a year or so.

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Photo of Jmamay22
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really Old Brown Dog pours a somewhat cloudy ruby brown with a thick ring of foam that clings to the walls of my glass, but leaves no lacing.

Wow, what a scent! Nice hints of vanilla. Deep complex malt is evident with hints of raisin, plum and rum. The many layers leave me constantly sniffing at this beer trying to understand everything that is going on. The mix of various scents creates a deceptive fruit presence that is difficult to place seeming to change and shift with every sniff.

Soft mouthfeel and more of that alluring fruity taste that I can't get enough of. Caramel, maple, plums, and fig come together to create an amazing beer. There's only a hint of the alcohol that adds another layer to the malty sweetness, but keeps everything in check from becoming cloying. Not your prototypical old ale, but a great ale nonetheless.

2010 Really Old Brown Dog Ale Reviewed 19 April 2015:

The beer pours a brilliantly clear deep caramel with ruby red highlights. Much better than the fresh bottles that often appear cloudy. The tan head attempts to maintain, but dies out to a thick collar of foam. Brilliant vinous raisin scent that is reminiscent of some better bottles of Thomas Hardy. A hint of sherry likely due to oxidation from the extended aging. Wonderful plum scent as well that mixes with caramel. A general jam like and spiced quality I usually associate with lightly toasted French oak is present, but I know the beer hasn't seen any oak aging.

The taste has some similarities, but lacks the depth of the scent. The body is a little thin with soft carbonation. The strong plum and raisin scent becomes general dark fruits on my tongue. I recall the beer fresh tasting sweeter and with greater alcohol warmth. It is nice to see both aspects have improved with age to reduce the near cloying sweetness and alcohol heat.

Very good beer that aged well and has gained some additional complexity. Reading my original review I feel I may have overrated it as a fresh beer. Much improved after some time.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Attractive pour-- dark copper almost ruby. Nice pillowy head subsides pretty quickly. Aroma is tons of fruit and some alcoholic esters as well. Almost smells like whiskey-- woody, caramel-like.

Flavor is huge, and tasty as well. Tons of malt and woody, alcoholic notes that, again, remind me of whiskey. Also fruity almost like a belgian dubbel. Touch of hop bitterness on the finish. Pretty deep, layered beer. Mouthfeel is quite good, chewy and almost sticky. Carbonation is kept to a good medium-low level. You've got to sip this one. I'm actually surprised it's only 7% abv. Thought it would have been higher. That said, it's absolutely delicious, and this bomber will do me good.

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Photo of blackie
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: into my piraat snifter, gives a low khaki head with light retention, deep amber in color

s: fruity toasted malt nose with notes of raisin, toffee, date, and boozy brown sugar, toasted nuts with a sugar-butter glaze, hopped lightly but adequately, very nice malt structure if a touch one-dimensional as a whole

m: light carbonation, body on the full side of medium

t: there's a nice toasted crystal malt here, but it's presence on the palate is brief and nearly overwhelmed by a sharp bitterness and indistinct hop flavor, grassy and herbal in the finish, warming alcohol compliments date and raisin flavors, unexpectedly dry, much more complex after warming to room temperature, same complaint as the nose...a bit of a one-note melody

d: not bad, hot for the relatively low abv but an easy sipper on a cold night

complaints notwithstanding, an accurate representation of its smaller sibling, bomber from Rick's, Alexandria, VA

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Photo of leif86
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark maroon with a pleasing ruby glow around the edges of the glass. Two fingers of beige head yield a nice rim around my Duvel that clings as the level slowly descends.

S: Allergies have given me a bit of a stuffy nose, but I think I can manage. It smells boozy with the oft hint of raisins that accompany such high ABV brews. Figs, dried fruit and a hint of general maltiness rounds it all out.

T: More than just palatable. A predictable sweetness takes center stage while the same cast that presents itself with a whiff now perform on the palate. Sure hope you weren't counting on something hoppy - not even the slightest flavor that I could honestly discern as being derived from my favorite little green coney flowers.

M: Tiny little bubbles tingle the mouth which is nice, it prevents this brew from being syrupy. I receive the stickiness well here, with the pleasing taste you don't mind that it wants to stay around for a bit. Plus, it's so sweet that it is what to be expected.

D: These "hotter" big beers have grown on me over time so perhaps my interpreting this as pleasantly drinkable won't quite meld with past reviews of similar brews. But yeah, drinkable.

Let it warm up so that you can really take everything in.

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Photo of jim102864
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper and brown with carb bubble streams and a thin pond head from this bomber bottle into my Trois Pistoles goblet. This is s tough one to get a handle on at first. Subtle sugary sweetness both in the nose and in taste. Nice malty flavor. Some cocoa notes. Slight bittersweetness. Nice full mouthfeel. Overall a bit cloying, even for a guy who likes stuff on the sweet side. A bit too sweet even for me.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 22 oz bottle - Pours a very cloudy and ugly dull copper color. Smells boozy and sweet with musty a old attic aroma. First sip is fruity sweet with caramel and plums leading the way. Tons of alcohol hotness prevails and the musty aroma is also noticeable in the flavor.

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Photo of selecter70
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

While Smuttynose has also brewed some great beers, their Big Bottle series has definitely captured my attention. A hearty 1pt 6oz bottle, this guy pours a dark caramel brown with honey color and a good 1 and a half -2 finger head. A light but rich malt aroma with yeast and a slight lavender floral aroma settles in the nose. The flavor moves towards a bitter hop/sweet malt and is smooth & chewy with plum-like sweet/sour musty fruit undertones. Very drinkable and quite delicious!

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

From tasting notes on 1/29. Poured a couple times in Delirium Tremens snifter.
Bottle Graphics: 9/10. Hit or miss with Smutty.

A: Dark auburn red, borderline brown colored body. Very light bubbles with a thin 1/4 head that held on tough. The second pour into the glass produced a mammoth head. The chunks in this pour were also pronounced. Yum, protein.

S: Dried fruits: figs, dates, figs and raisins. All of them with a sugary malt aroma. Molasses decadence. The booze is more present in the nose than the first sniff would lead you to believe.

T: Poundingly sweet and a little hot when chilled. The flavors and alcohol would make you think it was more than the 7% listed. The dates are pungent, tastily warming with huge brown sugar flavors. There is some huge flavor in this big beer packed into a relatively low and drinkable abv. Hops do not claim to nor do they take any residence in the taste or feel.
Buttered and toasted raisin nut artisinal bread.

M: Sweetness tings on my cheeks some and the body has adequate medium thickness. No bitterness but rich and luxurious.

D: Another, yet another beer from Smutty that is top notch. This brewery is beginning to get a seat at the head of the class in my book. The 22oz makes for a super sipper and it was a nice touch to sit back with a moderate abv brew that left a slight burn in the chest.

As the bottle says, age would probably do good things but the sweet fruits are what it is about. For the price tag, great.

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Photo of corby112
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice dark chocolate brown color with a thin, foamy beige head. Roasted malty aroma with cocoa/chocolate, sugar and dark fruit notes. Nice choclate malty flavor that is kind of similar to a tootsie roll. Strong chocolate presence along with hints of fig, dark fruit and alcohol. Slightly sweet with a spicy dry finish.

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Photo of bum732
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice clear reddish brown, not much lead and not much lacing. Smells of strong caramal malt galore, brown sugar, dark fruits, faint hops and touch of diacetyl. Tastes of sweet caramal up front followed by a nice malty backbone ending with a nice earthy hop bitterness. Finishes quite sweet.

A good beer, especially if you like sweet caramal. That said, there is a decent hop bitterness that lends some balance to the sweetness. Definitely a sipper.

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Photo of SFLpunk
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown glass pry-top. "Bottled Conditioned in 2008."

Appearance: Thin bone-white head, spotting on the glass. Deep red mahogany. Cristal-clear.

Nose: Alcoholic fruity esters, sweet biscuit (cookie), dried orange peel, malted milk, molasses.

Palate: Medium bodied and malt-ball goodness! Seriously, I'm blown away by this...Reminds me of a drier Madeira, from Bual or Malmsey grapes (low of the mountain). Oxidative notes of caramel and nuts, paper glue, cashew, caramelized palm sugar. Long, changing finish with some burn at the back of the throat.

Notes: I seriously misjudged this beer the first time I had it (2 or so years ago)! This beer has a lot going on, lots of similarities to oxidized dessert wines (Madeira, tawny/Colheita ports, Oloroso/PX sherries, etc.). I think it's a little disjointed right now, but that it will fall into place in the next 6 months or so. Seriously good.

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Photo of mpyle
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

App - Rich amber color, good clarity, moderate sized whitish head with okay retention.

Aroma - a plum/alcohol mix, some chocolate. Peppery. Complex and interesting.

Taste - Malty and slightly fruity up front, but turns spicy midmouth (alcohol flavor?). Finishes a bit bitter. Flavors a bit less inspired than indicated by some of the aroma notes.

MF - Med-full body, and moderate carbonation. A bit of alcohol warming which is pleasant and style appropriate.

D'ability - Definitely a sipper, and a beer than in some ways feels bigger than its ABV rating.

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Photo of grub
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

MuenchenerKindl hooked me up with this one. thanks tom!

22oz bottle, bottled in 2007. sampled feb 7/09.

pours deep red with just a touch of haze. the dense tan head falls quickly and leaves spotty lace.

aroma is nice. white bread, cracker, bit of biscuit. hint of alcohol. caramel and toffee. touch of apple. light toasty character. bit earthy.

taste is nice. whole wheat bread. cracker. biscuit. just a touch of toast. light caramel and tofee, but imparting very little sweetness. bit of fruit, mostly a fresh red delicious but also a bit of other lighter fruit character. light alcohol. low bitterness level. earthy.

mouthfeel is good. medium body. medium carbonation level.

drinkability is good. nicely balanced. not quite as much depth to the malt as i was hoping for, but still tasty.

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Photo of smcolw
3.21/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Excellent head. Clear light brown liquor. Good sticky lace throughout the glass as I finish the beer.

First impressions are distracting--reminds me of beef stew. Afterwards, I smell darker malts, alcohol

Strong alcohol presence to this beer. More malt than hop but this is still well balanced. Not quite dry, but it isn't at all sweet. The bitterness (from the hop) is low but provides light balance.

In the end, this is a 90% alcohol profile, which is too much for my enjoyment. Still, I feel this beer is worth seeking out as a change from the ordinary.

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Photo of TrevorGW
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown with red tints as you hold it to the light. Thin head that eventually just clings to the rims.

Smell is sweet with dark fruit aroma.

Taste is exactly what you would expect. Rich brown sugar, caramel, milk chocolate with a firm bitterness at the finish. Hops are pretty sharp with the bitterness but do not offer much in the way of flavor. Nice and dry after the initial sweetness.

Full-bodied and relatively creamy.

This beer is dangerous because it is so tasty and is a somewhat high ABV. But compared to other beers like it (Brown Shugga, India Brown Ale) it is not too bad in the booze department.

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

22oz bomber into nonic.

Crystal clear deep amber hue, which is almost brown. Ruby highlights at the bottom of the glass. A gentle pour results one finger tan head slowly settles to an even razor thin cap. An aggressive pour may have yielded a two finger head.

High amounts of burnt caramel and toffee. Hops add very little but to add a slight herbal aroma in the background. A slight amount of dark fruit is in there.

The malts have both a toasty and burnt flavor. A little bit of sweet brown sugar sneaks its way in. A slight spiciness shows up in the middle and lingers for a while. Full bodied.

An enjoyable beer, definitely for the malt fans. Complex, along with plenty of roasty malts. Recommended.

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

22oz bottle

Well the regular Old Brown Dog is definitely one of my favorites in the style so im pretty excited to try this one. ROBD pours a reddish brown copper color with nice clarity and a large and slightly sticky tan head. Rich nose of banana, figs, brown sugar soaked wood, raison and sweet bready malt. Rich in initial profile as well, full body, grainy with sweetness but still i dont find it overpowering or cloying, this beer is BIG and all its malty good is still slightly balanced by a crisp bitterness mid palate. Raisons and lots of em on the finish and into the smokey, sweet caramel malty aftertaste. Good beer, definitely lived up to my expectations, this beer would pair nicely with food, food bigger than this beer that is...

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Photo of wapack
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber poured into a pint glass....

A: Nice dark copper color, two finger foam head with very light lacing.

S: Big hints of toffee...there's a lot going on here.

T: BIG flavors in this beer! some caramel with toffee...alcohol sneaks in the back but is very balanced with the malts.

M: Feels like a nice big beer. Leaves notes of coffee on the tongue.

D: Overall drinkability is high. The alcohol is warming but very well hid. Overall, this is a great beer by Smuttynose!

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Photo of Avagadro
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed: 1-11-2009
Bottle: Bottle Conditioned 2008

A: Copper in color and transparent. The head is tan in color and has the texture of whipped cream. Carbonation is visible, lacing its way from bottom to top.

S: Aroma is somewhat reserved. Toast and toffee are its major characteristics.

T: Honey, caramel, toast, and spicy ethanol combine wonderfuly.

M: Creamy and full-bodied. Exactly what one would expect from this style of ale.

D: A wonderful brew that has a nice kick. Great "Big" version of a brown ale.

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Photo of PBoegel
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Bomber poured into a duvel tulip. Stained oak wood in color, brilliant clarity, very minimal light tan to cream colored head, breaks quickly.

Aroma is incredibly complex. Wet fresh cut wood, oak, rum, natural vanilla extract. No perciptible hop profile. Whiskey and rye vodka alcohol as it warms.

Flavor begins with a deep caramel sweet malt followed by a oak wood dry middle and a complimentary vanilla and subtle chocolate. Finishes with a warming whiskey sourness and complex dark rum character.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium body, alcohol compliments relatively low carbonation to help lead to a relatively dry finish overall. Some appropriate sourness, low bittering, slightly creamy.

Extremely drinkable, alcohol character is more apparent than would be expected in a 7% beer, but it creates a lot of the taste aroma that makes the beer inviting a d drinkable.

Buy more.

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Really Old Brown Dog Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 872 ratings.
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