Smooth Criminal | The Bruery

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Smooth CriminalSmooth Criminal

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Ever accidentally blend two brews, curse a bit, and then smile when tasting the excellent result? Us too. Smooth Criminal is the splendid result of moving a bit too quickly in the brewhouse. An accidental addition of Saison De Lente to a fermenter full of our Anniversary ale led us to ask, "Anni, are you okay?" She was. Smooth Criminal showcases rich malt, flavorful hops and oaky goodness in a harmoniously unique ale.

Added by rudzud on 02-02-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 277
Photo of nawpnawp
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle opened in 2016.

Pours a hazy light brown with nice carbonation, but very little head. The smell is quite boozy up front, but with notes of raisin and vanilla -- very reminiscent of So Happens It's Tuesday. As the name suggests, the taste is pretty smooth. A lot of the bourbon comes through and is at the forefront. The other notes play a very minor role. There is a sweetness that I expected from the nose that is missing. The taste of booze is masked, but the warmth definitely hits you quickly.

This beer came out quite good. The story of it being an accident is pretty cool. I'm glad I have extra bottles of this to try at a later date.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear burgundy pour with thin lacing, no carbonation.

S - Maple and brown sugar, molasses.

T - Maple, toasted brown sugar, molasses, and alcohol effervescence.

M - Thick, viscous, velvet-like, smacking sticky.

O - Big maple molasses.

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Photo of cvm4
3.66/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2014 vintage

L - Pours an opaque murky brown body with a one finger tan head. In about a minute, the head basically goes away without any lacing.

S - Big caramel, oak and bourbon on the nose. A bit sweet, but the smells coming at you are so good.

T - What you think is going to be a big boozy sipper, is watered down by the Saison De Lente. Granted, the anniversary ale is dominant, but there are some moments where the saison sneaks through.

F - On the light side of medium bodied with medium carbonation. The big, boozy anniversary ale loses to the dryness of the saison. It's crazy how a 15% abv beer can be this thin.

O - It leads you to believe it's going to be a big sipper, but it's not smooth and the crime is the lie from the nose.

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Photo of floridadrift
4.31/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Another great blend from the Bruery, much like FSW's science project barrel beers. Smells like roasted coffee with sugar and taste like a top notch barley-wine, you get whifs of caramel and hints of coffee that still exist and battle back and forth with the desert side of this beer. A good accident that I've had a couple times over again. Dark caramel body with sticky head that stays on the glass.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From spring 2014:

750ml, 2014 edition
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours a murky brown color. Appears almost black in glass. No light gets through. Initially a small layer of light tan head. Forms a collar. Alcohol feet.

S: definitely pulling more of the BA barleywine character: vanilla, mocha, caramel, oak, nuttiness, etc. Not getting that saison or Brett at all.

T: Very strange. Get a little prickle of carbonation or Brett yeast on the tip of the tongue. Then that Barleywine that you smelled: vanilla and caramel. Sweet malts. The mixture of the Lente, seems to make it easier to drink. It's flavors are over powered by the base. Alcohol warming for sure on the end. Really hitting me.

M: it's full bodied. But the blend of the Lente makes it much more palatable.

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Photo of stakem
3.46/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

First of all, good on the Bruery for owning up to their mistake on this accidental brew. I enjoy their anniversary ales so this sounded like a happy mistake that I wished to partake in...

750ml poured into a snifter. The brew appears mahogany in color with aquick dissolving tan cap.

The nose is loaded with bourbon and oak. Scents sweet like caramel, vanilla and a contrasting touch of tangy alcohol blending with raisony fruit. The taste is oaky bourbon, vanilla, caramel and some herbal notes. A big alcohol warmth leading to fruity raison and molasses.

This is medium to full bodied with light carbonation. Basically, this beer took everything I like about the Bruery anniversary ales and ruined it. Instead of being a huge, boozy sweet sipper, the saison has somewhat dried this out, watered it down and even though the alcohol has been lowered, it tastes hotter and more boozy than its bigger component pre-blended. Not a fan but maybe with age my opinion will change.

Smooth? Hell no.

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Photo of dropbombs25
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I was pleasantly surprised by this; after reading the mixed reviews I was hesitant to dive into this or try and trade it, but I eventually figured I had to try it. Up front is a nice bourbon barrel ale/barleywine flavor, essentially sucre...middle you get a little bit of alcohol burn and the end is a nice tart/sour finish with hints of apple and lemon that was unexpected but pleasantly nice. Typically I don't care for sours or tart beers, but this just worked and blended well in this one. I'd definitely seek this out again.

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Photo of masterofsparks
3.07/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Tastes more or less like the anniversary ale until the finish, where the accidental saison addition peeks its head through, giving it an off-putting medicinal flavor that I did not like.

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Photo of john0721
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark brown, off white head which quickly diminishes.

First pour out of bottle I get lots of caramel in the nose. Oak starts to come out as it warms with some subtle perfume.

Lots of caramel in the flavor. Brown sugar, Dark fruit and oak as it warms.

Is this better than the anniversary beer (the base beer)? no.

Yet, it stands up well on in its own.

An excellent beer, that I would buy again.

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Photo of beernazi
3.21/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

just weird, can tell the blend was accidental, no one in their right mind would actually do this on purpose...probably why they gave it free with reserve society membership

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Photo of jlindros
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Another Bruery split with rudzud but also shared with threelions.

Light fizzy head nice lacing, super dark molasses brown color.

Nose is very nice, big dark malts, sweet candy caramel toffee and a little char, lots of caramel, great toasted oak with some bourbon notes, potent booze and some sweet estery booze.

Taste brings lots more sweet candy malts, little nutty, great toffee and caramel, sweet molasses and little esters, some booze but maybe not 15%. Pretty sweet overall, balances the booze, brings nice aged soft malt taste too. Some oak, not a ton tough, nice bourbon though, almost rummy bourbon, with brown sugar and more caramel. Finish is little boozy, more lingering candy toffee and caramel, faint earthy hop.

Mouth is full bod, light but decent carb, booze hidden well.

Overall great. Booze a little strong on the nose but hidden fairly well on taste, little light on carbonation bit otherwise great. Glad I have another to age.

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Photo of rudzud
4.48/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Split with JLindros and Threelions.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a dark caramel with a thin head that fades to leave a light halo.

S - Aromas of bourbon and caramel. Boozy on the nose, alcohol burn, loads of English notes, toffee, aromatic.

T - Taste is malty sweet caramel, toffee, bourbon, light alcohol, malts, delicious smooth bourbon and vanilla.

M - Mouthfeel is really on the thin side of carbonation. Alcohol hidden.

O - Overall this was really tasty, great bourbon notes with the alcohol hidden wonderfully. Delicious.

Serving type: Bottle

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Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

A: poured into a snifter to a deep brown with some reddish hues.Topped by a finger of light tan head that fades quickly and leaves minimal lacing. small collar around the edge of the glass
S: smells of bourbon and wood with notes of vanilla, caramel, dark fruits and leather
T: taste is sweet and a little boozy with some nice vanilla and caramel flavors, slightly fruity but also surprisingly smooth. good barrel flavors and a good bit of wood on the palate. swallow is some hot alcohol but a lot more sweet caramel, vanilla, bourbon and dark fruits.
M: fairly large feeling on the intake but on the palate it feels surprisingly light with soft and slightly prickly carbonation and a slightly drying finish
O: It needs some time to settle down but it's pretty good semi fresh. lots of good flavors and complexity but there's a lot of alcohol as well.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle poured into a Bruery tulip.
15% ABV, 2014 Edition

A - Muddy brown in color, Smooth Criminal pours with a slightly unattractive appearance and lack of clarity but it's nicely formed off-white head sticks around longer than anticipated for it's high alcohol content.

S - A familiar and potent aroma greets the nose with haste; typical Bruery bourbon barrel-aged beer. It's heavy bourbon warmth, thick vanilla, and undertones of charred oak are all too common but the rich maltiness beneath brings out wonderful complexities of bread and Fig Newton filling with the sweet-smelling likes of caramel and toffee.

T - Soft suggestions of the accidental blending of Saison De Lente peek through with just a small pinch of lemony tartness but the huge malty base of the beer overwhelms with bold caramel and toffee sweetness with dark stone fruits pulling through behind. There is, of course, plenty of bourbon barrel character in the flavor ranging from the complimentary vanilla notes to warming booze and charred oak, bundling the whole beer up in a nice little package.

M - Big and boozy, Smooth Criminal might have a robust, creamy texture but, the its bold body thins out slightly with the warming, high octane finish of 15% and bourbon warmth!

O - So The Bruery's accidental Smooth Criminal blending might not have much Saison De Lente character in it - next to none at all - and it might be all too reminiscent of the big and boozy anniversary beers they've released but, this beer is still damn tasty for an accident and it'll certainly get the job done.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.72/5  rDev +14.8%

Dec 2013 bottle, opened Sep 2014

A - An attractive cranberry ice tea body. Off-white head settles into a thick halo with nice retention and low lace.

S - Great complexity. Vanilla, black strap molasses, prune, chocolate chip muffin, pecan, port wine, Raisinets, Tootsie Roll, charred oak, caramel, maple syrup, and oats.

T - Wow. Lighter and boozier than a classic barleywine, but it works extremely well with the profile. Sweet prune, burnt caramel, charred oak, herbal bitters, dandelion, bourbon, chocolate covered raisins, honey, blackberry hard candies. Really nice oak, maple syrup, and burnt caramel finish.

M - Light and surprisingly well carbonated which works perfect for the beer.

O - An outstanding experimental (accidental) barleywine. The aroma and flavor have world class complexity and balance, and the farmhouse nuances and carbonation elevate this beer to elite status. It's rare that novelty outperforms convention, but this beer is the perfect example of power of stochastic evolution.

4.72 Smooth Criminal
-- -Jay- -Jon- -Ath- -Vin- -Pt- -Grg- -Avg- Weight Adj
A - 4.40 4.40 4.00 4.25 4.50 ------- 4.31 10% 0.43
S - 4.80 4.90 4.80 4.70 4.87 ------- 4.81 20% 0.96
T - 5.00 4.10 4.70 5.00 4.96 ------- 4.75 40% 1.90
M - 4.80 4.50 4.60 4.85 5.00 ------- 4.75 10% 0.48
O - 4.80 4.60 4.70 4.80 4.80 ------- 4.74 20% 0.95

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Photo of mdfb79
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 06/22/14 notes. Got a bottle of this in the RS this year. 750ml bottle poured into my Bruery tulip.

a - Pours a nice mahogany brown color with a slight reddish tint, one finger of medium tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Looks nice.

s - Smells of sweet dark fruits, molasses, caramel malts, oak, bourbon, toffee, roasted malts, alcohol, sweet chocolate, and leather. Nice nose, reminds me a lot of the anniversary beer.

t - Tastes of molasses, brown sugar, caramel malts, sweet bourbon, toffee, sweet dark fruits, sugar, raisins, toasted malts, roasted malts, vanilla, and cream. Again, very good and very similar to the anniversary beers. Not getting any saison at all.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Not as thick and smooth as the anniversary beer, but not as hot either.

o - Overall I liked this one a is like their anniversary beer-lite. Personally I like the anniversary beers better and enjoy the thick body and stronger flavors of all these there, but this is very good. Don't get any saison at all but I'm ok with that. Worth checking out oif you like their anniversary beers.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.11/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750mL bottle acquired through the Hoarders Society. Bottled 12/10/13. Served in a Bruery snifter.

Pours deep, dark, opaque mohagany with three fingers of pale tan head. A thin halo remains, leaving only a few sparce dots in the way of lace.

Sweet tantalizing aromas of toffee, bourbon, caramel, stone fruits, vanilla and brown sugar.

A great blend of flavors. Bourbon, caramel, oak, toffee, butterscotch, dates/figs, brown sugar, semi tart cherry skins, mild earthiness, hints of burnt wood and a healthy dose of sweet booze. The many sweet notes remind me of it's anniversary old ale roots but there's a musky dryness from the saison that makes this something alltogether different. A nice blend of flavors that drinks like it has about half of it's 15% abv.

A fairly thick, full body with softish carbonation. Bourbon, toffee and dark fruits linger on the tongue for a pleasing finish.

I'm not sure that I understand the strange beer math that turns 1 old ale plus 1 saison into an English barleywine but I sure enjoy the spoils of the equation. While perhaps not the finest example of the style, this is quite tasty and not at all the freak of beer-nature that I feared given it's providence.

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Photo of alaimoa
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: filthy brown with a thin ring of brownish head
S: barrel character, musty, sweet burnt sugars, toffee, butterscotch
T: phenomenal, bourbon, slightly sweet sugars but not over the top, no burn, bit of the saison musk
M: coating and slightly thin
Overall mmm glad to have maxed out

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Photo of IKR
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Fairly cloudy dark-brown with a modest sized light-beige head that dissipated fairly quickly.

Smell: Moderate bourbon notes, brown sugar, dark fruit notes (think raisins and prunes) and mild toffee notes. Nice nose on this one.

Taste: Bourbon, brown sugar, raisins/prunes, mild spicy notes and mild oak notes. The beer finishes drier and less sweet than the Anniversary beers, which I'm guessing is the result of the blending with Saison De Lente. Very mild alcohol presence, great for the ABV.

Mouth-feel: On the light side of medium-bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall: The "accidental blend" has resulted in a tasty English barleywine. I'm curious as to how this one will age.

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Photo of ThePaleRider
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark brown. The color of leather. Very thin off white head that doesn't stick around very long.

S - Lots of sweetness. Oak, tobacco, molasses, and booze.

T - Sweet oak, malts, malts, and yummy malts. Finishes very dry. The initial flavor is the spice and zest from the saison and then transforms into the smooth barley wine. Very nice, and does any brewery hide the flavor of alcohol better than the Bruery?

M - medium bodied and a very dry finish.

O - Very unique blend. Very nice and just like all barrel aged beers, very complex. Big brew with big flavors.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Bruery in Placentia, CA.

Thanks to Retsinis for sharing this one.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with brown sugar and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a nice bourbon presence, but I am not really getting any Saison De Lente qualities out of this one.

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Smooth Criminal from The Bruery
4.11 out of 5 based on 277 ratings.
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