Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Scotch Ale

11/1/05 - Scotch Ale - The Scotch Ale this year is completely unaltered from last year's incarnation. We just didn't see a need to change anything. That being said we will most likely be putting the Scotch Ale on hiatus next year. I guess I'd consider this fair warning if you'd like to cellar a few bottles to tide you over. I know some of you don't want to hear that, but it's just part of the evolution of the Big Beer Series (I'd call it intelligent design, but we are talking about the Smutty crew here.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Note about our Wheat Wine

The much-anticipated debut edition of Smuttynose Wheat Wine, brewed and bottled early in 2005, was delayed until September due to problems stemming from the federal label approval process. The Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly ATF) rejected our original label approval application, claiming that use of the word wine in a beer name would confuse and mislead the consumer and retailers. We didn't agree (barleywine, anyone?) and appealed their rejection of our application. Ours is the first, but definitely not the last, wheat wine application the federal government has seen, so they had to create new guidelines regarding the use of this name. At last, the issue has been put to rest, and although there are several outstanding examples of this style offered at brewpubs, we are pleased to say that Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale is the first, and so far only, commercially bottled beer that carries the name Wheat Wine on the market. We're hoping that more are on the way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wheat Wine - the First Edition

8/24/05 - Wheat Wine - Smuttynose Vs. The Feds: or how our heroic brewers spent the summer stickin' it to the man. We finally convinced the bureaucrats that Wheat Wine isn't actually all that confusing, in fact it's fairly straight forward. For those of you who haven't heard, we brewed the Wheat Wine in April and have been waiting on label approval since. The governments intention was that regular folk out there would be unable to understand what a Wheat Wine denotes. As if Smirnoff Ice is obviously not a vodka drink but a malt beverage. Anywho, we finally managed to get ahold of a person of reason who allowed us to use the term, though with a bit of explanation beneath as you can see on the label. The beer however has been aging nicely, though stocks have dwindled thanks to Charlie.

I'd been toying around with the idea of brewing a Wheat Wine for a while now. I first tasted one at the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland a few years ago. Terri Fahrendorf from Steelhead had brought some to the banquet and it was awesome. Best beer I tried out there. I didn't have much of an opportunity to brew one until I was asked to start overseeing the Portsmouth Brewery and helping with some quality issues there. I quickly decided this was the perfect chance to brew a Wheat Wine as well as some other styles I'd been dreaming of trying. As an aside the Hop Harvest we did was spectacular, I wish we could afford to fly out that much unkilned hops for a Smutty sized batch, but alas some things are destined to be brewed in the smaller brewhouses of this world.

The Wheat Wine that Keith Gosselin and I came up with was also very well received. Unfortunately, in another casualty in scaling up in volume, we were unable to use only Golden Promise as our pale malt base, cause both the cost and the physical difficulty in schlepping that many bags up to the mill was a tad overwhelming. Anyway, we backed off the Golden Promise from 45% to 10% with the remaining pale malt being made up with our Pilsner silo malt. It hasn't made too big of a difference but it definitely changed the malt profile. The hopping was done with a mix of Warrior and Liberty and meant to balance the malt profile but not dominate. The biggest character is the alcohol presence. At around 11% ABV this is definitely worthy of it's Big Beer status. With all that alcohol flavor, Graham over at Flag Hill Winery suggested we add medium toast French (or should they be Freedom?) oak chips in with the dry hops to add a bit of that vanilla Chardonnay flavor. I think it added a nice level of complexity to the beer as well as a bit of dryness.

Pilsner malt
Golden promise
Cara wheat
Wheat malt
Cara hell

Cane sugar

OG - 23° p;
TG - 3.1° p
ABV - 11.0%

IBU 70
Bittering - Warrior
Flavoring - Liberty
Aroma - Liberty
Dry hops - Horizon (plus medium toast French oak chips)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Big A IPA - 2005 Edition

5/31/05 - Big A IPA - After being forced to smell the glove at last years' GABF by judges who declared the Big A just not big enough, Stash decided to see if he would like a true West Coast style Double IPA and went about reformulating. The first thing to change was the malt bill by losing the Belgian malts, which was felt to be too close to the Barleywine in character. The malt additions were just a mixture of Pilsner malt and British Pale Ale malts. The biggest change was jacking the hops up to 120 IBU's as well as increasing the flavoring additions, which was felt to be lacking in last years' version. We kept the Horizon hops for the flavoring addition but added Warrior to the bittering and Sterling in the aroma. We dry hopped with Columbus and Sterling at a rate close to 1 lb. per barrel, booyah!

The nose is full of orange and other citrus, but not quite as pungent as I'd hoped, Stash will have to work on that. The body is nicely balanced with a hint of malt and a bunch of alcohol, perhaps a tad of honey? The beer lingers nicely with beautiful hop dryness.

Well done, Stash.

Pale ale malt
Pilsner malt

OG - 21° p;
TG - 2.9° p
ABV - 9.2%

IBU 120
Bittering - Warrior, Cascade
Flavoring - Horizon
Aroma - Sterling
Dry hops - Columbus, Sterling

Tuesday, February 1, 2005


2/1/05 - Barleywine - Barleywine Time! Easily my favorite beer. We were quite happy with the 2004 version and receive a bunch of positive feedback from ya'll. The Celebrator was also in agreement as they ranked our beer with the best of the barleywines they tasted last year. We sent some more bottles out this year and though I haven't seen the issue I believe we have once again been well ranked. The two aspects of last years beer that we decided to alter was bitterness and mouthfeel. We felt the beer a tad over hopped and so dropped the IBU's from 90 to 80. We also added CaraHell into our malt profile to add a bit of the residueals this dextrin malt leaves behind.

The nose is a bit understated and we'll work on bumping up the dry hopping next year. Can never add too many dry hops. I definitely like the hop and malt balance better this year. Could it perhaps use a tad more body? The flavors linger beautifully with that great warming in the ol' belly. I look forward to meeting this beer again next fall after it's had a chance to grow up and mature a wee bit.

Pilsner Malt
Pale Ale Malt
Aromatic Malt
Special B
Brown Sugar

SG - 23° p
TG - 3.4° p

IBU 80
Simcoe - Bittering
Santiam & Cascade - Flavoring
Santiam - Aroma
Warrior - Dry Hopping

Thursday, January 20, 2005

S'Muttonator Doppelbock - First Edition

1/20/05 - S'Muttonator Doppelbock - S'Muttonator had been released and is probably lurking in your local liquor store ready to butt heads. Watch out, though, don't ram it home 'cause this sucker's 9.6% ABV and right now they're going down pretty smooth. This is the first new release in the Big Beer Series since the Big A IPA in 2002, and I'm glad to get the ok to put out some new distinct beers. We once again utilized the dreaded double decoction to give this beer its unique malty sweetness. Like all our Big Beers this was double batched to hit the starting gravity we look for in these beers, and each batch did take about 15 hours which is a long time to wait for that end of shift pint (especially for The Charles.) I'm looking forward to trying this beer in a year of so, but right now it's tasting swell though slightly immature. Remember that this beers decocted so you don't have to be.

Pale (2-Row) Malt
Munich Malt
CaraFa II

ABV - 9.6%

IBU 42
Bittering and aroma - Hersbrucker Hallertau