Really Old Brown Dog Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Company

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Really Old Brown Dog AleReally Old Brown Dog Ale
Very Good
900 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 900 |  Reviews: 397
Photo of Billolick
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$4.99 for a 22 ounce bomber, the front of label lets you know this brew was "Bottle conditioned in 2007" certaintly a good bit of info as this one most likely was designed to be put away in a cool dark place for a few. Pours medium almond amber, moderate haze, cloudyness and sits under a tightly knit light tan head, that leaves nice, fine and scattered lacing. Allowed to warm up abit the nose is of some raisins, light alcohol and warm toast. Pleasant malty brew, more raisins, whole wheat toast, vanilla and a slight bite of mellow alcohol. Pleasant sipper, nicely crafted and smooth on the tongue. Well worth a try, if I had the space and the will power I'd put some bottles of this away for a few years...its drinking quite nicely right now...

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Photo of markgugs
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle poured into a Belgian snifter

A: A faint off-white head bubbles up on top of a russet-colored, fairly clear body. Head dies down to a cluster of carbonated bubbles and a swirl up top after only a few seconds, then seems to stick around.

S: An intoxicating, rich blend of caramel sweets and overripe fruit is blatant, contributing to an overall "boozy" aroma. Banana and cookies are the predominant scents, near as I can tell.

T/M: Woah, not at all what I was expecting. I sat here patiently letting the beer warm a bit, then finally took a sip. Raw, fresh, bitter were the first 3 words that came to mind. None of the syrupy sweetness that the aroma would have had you believe. I imagine that this bottle-conditioned ale (2007) will most definitely improve in time as the flavors blend together. I'll surely have to revisit. Some nice malt flavors do begin to shine through, but the underlying bitterness to everything doesn't help this beer. Mouthfeel is slick and oily, but stops just short of being cloyingly sticky.

D: Right now? Not much, but I bet in about 1 year this beer will be tremendous.

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Photo of bort11
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage 22 oz bottle, poured into an Imperial pint glass. An initial white head that stands about a fingers width that recedes to a tight cap and eventually fades away about half way through. Really no lacing sticks to the glass. The color is a clear dark reddish brown. Lazy carbonation activity, very relaxed.
Smell is malty with hints ginger and other warm spices. Taste is equally malty, not quite a malt-bomb. It's more balanced than than. Has a lot of qualities of a brown ale
Mouthfeel is a light/medium body and oes down very smoothly. In fact maybe a little too smooth. Even though it's not the highest ABV Old Ale I've had, it went down quick and the alcohol cought up to me.

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

appearance - Amber-brown color with a nice white head on it.

smell - Sweet malts, and toffee smell.

taste - Malt taste, alcohol, and hop bitterness at the end of the sip.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Not a bad beer, wish it didn't have the hop bitterness at the end. Took me bit to finish this one off.

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Photo of Fish113d
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Sulldaddy for the 22 oz bomber!

Pours a nice burnt sienna color with a hefty, light, billowy head (tan) that clings to the glass. Aroma is mainly of some caramel brown malts along with some slight almonds and chocolate. A bit of floral hops hits my nose as well but mainly malt. Sipping reveals a nice, robust mocha maltiness that almost reminds me of a porter. However, the body is a bit fuller (medium) with some nice caramel tones throughout the sip. A bit of alcohol also hits my tongue numbing it on the tip just a bit, while the finish is dry and a bit bitter. Very smooth aside from the alcohol tingle. I didn't drink this at a very cold temp (probably 58 degrees F), but very enjoyable. This will help my Hold 'Em skills! Okay, maybe not, but very nice offering!

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Photo of jdhilt
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two-fingered light tan head that slowly fades to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Nice deep, clear amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Sweet caramel nose. Flavor is sweet caramel but hops balance. Lingering bitter aftertaste. $3.99 for a 22 oz bottle from Capital Convenience Concord, NH.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smuttynose- Really Old Brown Dog Ale

Appearance- Dark blood red/ brown with a huge frothy head. Thick lacing down the glass.
Smell- Light tinge of alcohol, ceder, oak, & cherry.
Taste- Dried fruits; cherry, raisin blended into a sweet malt. Slight wood; cedar/ oak chip flavor with a hint of boozy alcohol. A pinch of cocoa powder detected in the end.
Mouthfeel- Sweet with a strong alcohol finish. Strong alcohol aftertaste.

Overall- A sweet and strong (alcohol taste) beer. Let this sit in your cellar until it matures. Not bad but seems

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

22 oz bomber>snifter. The photo of olive (the brown dog) is really great, taken many years after her debut on the brown dog ale lable the photo shows the dog at her twilight of life and it seems very peaceful. I love her sitting in the chair by the ocean, anyone who has lost a pet will have heavy feelings seeing this lable.

AP: Just like it's mascot, the color of this brew is a beautiful amber-brown color with a ruby-red glow that has a two-finger deep, foamy, fluffy and sticky tan-colored head displaying great retention, the carbonation is medium with a few little bubbles fighting their way to the top through the medium viscosity.

nose: Unlike most dogs...the aroma of this brew is really good with minor alcohol heat, tart citrus, buttery, semi-sweet malt and a spicey hop note.

flavor & feel: The first hit brings a bit of a suprise with a very bold hop charecter that is mildly bitter resiney pine and tart fruits. The malt charecter seems to be in even balance of the hop with a doughy, buttery, oakie and semi-sweet flavored malt heady-ness. This medium to full body brew has a good balance of flavors, however, i do enjoy a bigger bolder malt flavor when it comes this style. On a positive note, this is a unique Old ale and it needs to be served at the correct temp.

DA: This old ale is able to avoid an identity crisis with it's cousin the barley wine, which it can sometimes miminc...this bigger-than-usual hop effect gives it a unique quality all to it's own. As the lable states: "Much like our beloved Olive, this beer will mellow and age gracefully". Overtime, the hop will mellow and i'm looking forward to pulling a few out of the cellar in a few years. I coupled this old ale with smoked gouda cheese and pepper-corn salmon. The cheese really makes the malt flavors POP.

*Update 2008 version:
The recipe has been pumped up for this year it's acually much bigger than the '07 version. This one is much bolder, huge malt verging on an English Barleywine but slightly more refined. bolder flavor's and feel makes this a killer brew.

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Photo of bjohnson
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber almost reddish color with a frothy half finger cream colored head. Nice cloudy like retention. Nice thick lacing down the glass. Sweet caramel malt notes with dark fruits of prune and fig aromas. Slight nestle cocoa powder notes also.

Sweet malt--molasses and caramel with a nice subtle infusion of cocoa. Burnt sugar notes also linger on the palate. Malt profile is well balanced with all flavors having equal air time. Spicy sensation after the malt blast. Leafy hop presence left on the tongue in the aftertaste. Dryer finish is spurred on by a carbonation blast. Mouthfeel could be a bit more smooth and creamy, but unfortunately the carbonation is a bit too much. A very nice tasting brew with a lot of malt flavor. Definitely worth a try, as all Smuttynose brews are.

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

This Old Ale pours a clear copper orange color with a half inch thick light orange tinged head. The head fades quickly, but leaves small a spattering of lace that clings for the whole ride.

Sweet malt aromas up front, followed by hints of dried tropical fruits.

Bready sweet malts followed by dried fruits and a bitter hopiness. A toasted malt finish with a hint of alcohol and smokiness.

Very smooth mouthfeel and very drinkable. Not as strong as some old ales I've had, but much more balanced and approachable. A very solid beer.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 22oz bomber. Very pretty beer: red/brown in color, with a thick coffee-colored head that retains well. Malty/grainy aroma, with a background of dark fruit. Intensely malty taste up front, followed by the dark fruit. Maybe even a slight chocolate taste at the end. Alcohol is noticeable but not intrusive. Very smooth, very drinkable. Gotta get more of these.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep mahogony with a medium tan foamy head. The head lasts and leaves decent lacing. The smell is pungent with sweet malt and a strong "bisquity' aroma. The taste is interesting with the alcohol really standing out. The flavors are almost porter/like with coffee,sweet malt,carmel,and a smoked wood flavor. The m/f is medium with the flavors not mixing all that well and making this abit harsh. Not a bad beer,and I like that Smuttynose tries different things,but this really is average,although aging may help. Cheers.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
2.92/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This review pains me a little; the Smutty Big Beer series is one of my all time favorites. This one is very, very disappointing, Olive deserves better. Maintains a decent appearance, nicely balanced head, apparently bottle-conditioned, no residue anywhere.

Unbalanced malts dominate, with a slight hop-bitter finish. Not sure where the brewer was trying to go with this one; being that it is bottle condition, and relatively high ABV, I am interested to see how it ages.

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Photo of EStreet20
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Love the Smutty big beer series. Grabbed a bomber to try out the Old Ale. Great picture of Olive, the mascot from my favorite brown ale lying on an easy chair on the beach.

22 ounce bomber of the 2007 vintage poured into an oversized wine glass.

A - Pours out a beautiful light brown color that glows to a fiery, translucent red when held to the light. A nice finger of off white head sits atop. The head eventually dissipates (this is a big ass glass) but leaves rings of lacing down the sides. Really an amazing looking beer.

S - Big fruity notes. You can tell some sweetness will be coming your way.

T - Very nice overall. The fruits are present as in the smell along with a tiny, tiny, tiny hint of toffee like flavor. Surprisingly, and pleasantly, the sweetness does not go into overkill mode and the beer finishes somewhat dry. Also a tiny bit of a smoky character in there as well. Just great, complex flavors that aren't all that "extreme", simply well done. Alcohol is nearly completely hidden in the taste but will warm the back of the throat/belly.

M - A nice feeling medium body. Maybe a little heavier would be expected.

D - Keeps me coming back. A very interesting brew. Glad I picked it up. I'll definitely grab a few to age for a while, if I can resist them now.

An excellent sipper. Different than the other old ales I've tried (starting right with the color) but a seriously interesting and "cozy" beer to relax with.

RIP Olive

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up the other day and thought I'd give it a try. Wow! This beer is great! I thought it would be a brown ale aka the regular series but it's noted here as an old ale. Makes a bit more sense but regardless it's quite a brew!

A - Brilliantly clear, deep amber-red with a billowy off white head.

S - Rich sweet caramelly malts with swirling brown sugar and toffee and a hint of spicy hops to keep it honest.

T - Similar to the smell but more robust and raw, but in a good way. This one has the hallmarks of a great cellaring beer. I will be putting a few away for future enjoyement.

M - Rich, full bodied, slightly warming.

D - I love old ales and english style barleywines. This one was a smooth drinking enjoyable brew.

I recommend trying this one.

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

Thanks to Joe at Liquor World for supplying this one...
Rust copper in color with a finger of off-white head...only a skimming remains and produces some attractive, yet thin lacing.
Faint aromas...really have to stir this one to get anything. Some mild fruits (green apple, fig) with a hint of spice.
Taste is better, but not impressing me where this one is right now.
Candied sugar, molasses, alcohol and some floral hops. Bitter dry in the finish with the alcohol also apparent in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is its best quality for me...full bodied and not cloying.
A bomber is consumed with little effort, but I feel Really Old Brown Dog is Really "Young" Old Brown Dog and this one will kick major ass six months from now.
Will definitely snag a couple more bombers to age...I know this one will impress me more down the line.
Right now, it's just ok.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed from a 22oz bomber bottle; no freshness info. Label notes refer to this Old Ale in the following manner: "Much like our beloved Olive, this beer will mellow & age gracefully". Sad to hear that Olive, the Old Brown Dog, passed away on 15MAR07, shortly after this bier made an appearance. RIP, Olive...

Poured into my Portsmouth Imperial Pint glass, it has a fantastic, deep, rich auburn color. Clear throughout, with intermittant carbo rising lazily within. Head is thin and fine, light beige in hue, and mostly hanging around the rim. Lacing looks fine as well. Nose is solid and malty, with a smidge of brown sugar and some nutty attributes coming forth. Quite smooth after a bit of a light, bubbly feel on the tongue, and solidly entrenched in the medium body class.

Malt really hits home early with this bier... has leanings toward toffee, with more brown sugar adding to a sharp, sweet initial flavor offering. Has intimations of some dark fruit, sort of like in a rum-soaked fruit cake. Bitterness is rather pronounced, with a solid floral hop whack lingering in the dryish finish. A very well-made rendition of the style. I'd have to think that Olive would have a smile on her face, as this bier, like the regular Old Brown Dog, does her name proud.

Cheers, Olive....

overall: 4.35
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4.5


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Photo of LvilleIPA
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 22oz bottle

A - Amber/brown, huge off white head on top.

S - Extremely malty. Some caramel and fruit too. There's also some chocolate and toffee. Really nice.

T - Brown. Ale. A good one, but, it's a brown ale. Check that - it's brown ale with alot more alcohol in it. It's actually relatively well hidden, but after a while you definitely know it's there. Doesn't really remind me of an "old ale" though. For some reason, I'm leaning more towards "doppelbockish".

M - Medium-full bodied, not really much carbonation at all either. Really light when compared to other old ales I've had recently (North Coast's Old Stock, Fuller's Vintage Ales, Thomas Hardy). It seems a tad less complex than those too.

D - It's smooth and tastes good, just not something I'd tell everyone to run out and hunt for. After drinking most of the 22oz bottle you definitely start to feel the alcohol level. Overall, it's a fair offering. Almost seems like it'd be better suited in their regular rotation instead of it's "Big Beer" designation.

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Photo of kpantz
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Executive Summary: Here's to you, Olive. Rest in peace. I wish I had enjoyed this more in your honor, but I'll be sure to go grab a sixer of the regular Old Brown Dog Ale and down that.

Appearance: Pours a quite clear, yet deep molasses color with a cream-colored head that starts a couple fingers thick, but drops steadily from there. Lacing isn't too shabby.

Smell: Caramel, toffee, nutty aroma with even some hops in there.

Taste: Really don't get the hefty maltiness purported to exist. Rather, the front end is a relatively thin malt layer (though it does get a little better closer to room temperature), followed by some hop flavor (no doubt revealed by the lack of a thick malt presence) and definite alcohol flavors. Slight sourness lingers afterwards, accompanying the alcohol's warmth. Flavor is not bad, mind you - just not what I expected given the description.

Mouthfeel: Kinda thin - I expected this to be chewier. Carbonation levels are low - pretty appropriate here.

Drinkability: It's not bad, but it's just not going to be able to hold my interest to the point that would make me go back for more.

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Photo of Gavage
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear amber / brown color with a huge 3"+ head that last a while. Decent lacing develops during the sesssion.

Smell: caramels, toasted nuts, and a hint of chocolate is very pleasant.

Taste: this is what I would call a hearty brown ale. Mildly grainy roasted malts, caramel, toasted bread, hints of nuts, plums, and noticeable bitterness. Alcohol is definitely noticeable but lends itself to the overall flavor.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Smooth from start to finish. Brief aftertaste as the flavors leave the tongue quickly.

Drinkability: this is a heavier and meatier brown ale that is outside normal session ranges, but this was quite easy to drink. Overall this was very enjoyable.

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Photo of cbl2
3.46/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

3/17/2007 $4.49 22 oz. N/A No best by date.

Says that much like their beloved Olive, will mellow and age gracefully.


True to it's name, this puppy is brown, with crimson highlights and a nice tight head that is light tan, and slow to settle.


Toffee malts, and roasted nuttiness that one would expect from a brown ale. I'm not yet able to discern what makes this part of the "Big Beer Series".


I don't know what to make of this beer. It tastes just like a brown ale, but then all of a sudden you're hit with a massive amount of hot alcohol. I'm going to lay a few of these down, and revisit in a year or so. It's not undrinkable now, but I'm sure it could be much better. Hopefully time will temper the out of control alcohol.

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

It pours a very slightly hazy brownish amber, with intimations of ruby running through the body. A finger of off-white head dissolves quickly to shower-steam surface froth. Bangles of lacing brace the inside of the glass.

The aroma carries notably sweet roasted malt, at once fruity and earthen, with baked dough, toffee, cherry, berry, and chocolate. A vague, spicy hoppiness lay lightly over an air of alcohol.

Upon sipping, the roasted malt is initially quite sweet, but it dries slightly as crisp melon and dark cherry fructify the flow. Bitterness bifurcates into mildly singed grain and a general peppery hop-result. The alcohol is more submerged here, but it does ripple the surface. Well-baked biscuit shifts into a crisp, dry bitterness that lingers cleanly. It's mightly malty but it also refreshes with its clean close.

Medium bodied, the malt has a fairly viscous touch, and the final glow lasts on the palate.

No matter how old it is, this dog can hunt. The dense malt presence lends a mature air to the overall character, leaving a tasty mix of old and scotch ales. Despite a muted but credible ABV it's an easily drinkable malt-fest. No, it doesn't soar among the clouds, but it's salt of the earth, and that makes it one of man's better friends.

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Photo of jwc215
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle

Pours reddish brown with a thin, well-retained off=white head.

The smell is of dark malts, caramel, dark fruits with sweet biscuit in the back.

The taste is just as the aroma would have it with some chocolate added in. This is a wonderful blend of malts. Just enough hops to keep the sweetness from being cloying.

There is mild carbonation. Smooth. Farily coating.

Easy drinking, esp. for the style. Yummy! An old ale/brown ale mix. Nice.

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Photo of Ego
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

brown with heavy ruby tones (almost a dead ringer for North Coast Old Stock actually), big fluffy white head, gooey and chewy looking foam, lacing is good but it is more like the suds get sucked back into the head to keep it as one floating behemoth, retention is great, ample carbonation, looks great!

barely and chocolate up the wazoo, a strong nose indeed, you don't need to take a big whiff here, some underlying sweetness, hints of bourbon (light), hints of sugar and plums, this is nice indeed.

taste etc...
the barley type of flavor is the dominant factor, light booze and slight warming, mild bitterness in the back, that "wine" flavor you get in some barleywines and old ales is slightly present. this does taste more like a brown ale than an old ale.. I think lack of alcohol punch is actually a detriment here as it is usually endemic of the style. the mouthfeel is nice here, full and creamy, the carbonation is perfect.

nice drinking, smooth, perhaps not as complex as some old ales... interesting to lay this one down and see where it goes... definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of akorsak
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is Smuttynose's newest Big Beer offering, an Old Ale that features an up-to-date shot of the old brown dog (from the ale) lounging at the beach.

A: The ale has a deep amber-red color that shows off some brown highlights. The head is darn near nonexistent, coming across as only a small white band.

S: The ale has a sweet, concentrated malt aroma. The malts are grainy, biscuity sweet with a caramel edge. The strength of the malts conjures up green grape tartness.

T: The taste of this ale is just like the name says, old brown dog ale only older. The toffee and caramel malts are intensely strong, imparting a very deep grainy malt body to the ale. As the ale warms, sharp medicinal flavors emerge to compliment the tart sharp malts. The increased concentration of each allows for a more rounded flavor that does not hide its alcohol content well. Hops are bittering only, adding little in the way of flavoring.

M: The mouthfeel is sharp, strong malts, creating a very thick sip. Ramping up the BDA is a very curious and interesting take.

D: The higher alcohol (I don't know the abv, but it is higher) makes for a tough drink. The strong malts are enjoyable though, imparting a strong cereal flavor.

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Really Old Brown Dog Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.91 out of 5 with 900 ratings