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S'Muttonator Double Bock

Judges Rating: 
20 / 24
6 / 6
36 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

Portsmouth, N.H., is home to the award-winning Smuttynose Brewing, yet another of the long list of stellar breweries that came onto the scene in the mid-’90s. Though focused mainly on producing exceptional ales, they do occasionally drift into lagers, including S’Muttonator, their traditional doppelbock. Malt dominates the nose with slightly crackery graininess complemented by rich, luxurious caramel – almost toffee-like – notes. As expected of a true barleywine, there is no hop aroma, and the fruitiness is all malt-derived. Nick caught traces of honey and raisins floating over the intense maltiness and felt surprised to find that the beer lacked a punch of alcohol in the nose given its solid 9.5 percent ABV. Rick, however, did pick up on the alcohol, finding it to be a little “hot” and presenting itself as “solventy.” Still, he was duly impressed with the superbly balanced malt aromas of biscuits, Animal Crackers and English toffee. Perhaps a touch light for its avowed style, S’Muttonator fills the glass with a rich amber glow, throwing only the faintest trace of chill haze, with a satiny caramel-colored head. Flavors of Munich malt, slightly burnt toast, overripe plums and hints of toffee abound, and the beer has just enough hop bitterness to keep it from going flabby. Lee was surprised by how dry the beer finished given its “playful notes of toffee” and big malt flavors, yet Tim found the dryness to detract somewhat and opined that the beer wasn’t as richly malted as expected. He did, however, appreciate the pleasant alcohol warming in the finish. With winter setting in, this is one beer to have on hand to keep the evening chill at bay.