To celebrate their 21st year in brewing, the marketing and brewing teams at Smuttynose undoubtedly burned many midnights worth of oil devising the perfect way to bring the cheer desired in light of such an auspicious occasion. While many a birthday and anniversary oriented themes were surely floated and perhaps even a suggestion or two of some sophisticated, humble thanks and remembrance likely was batted around a table, it was – at least to my imagination – at some obscene hour when the head held wearily in the hands of one of their brewers slipped in unconsciousness and landed with a thud on the table, that another chuckled through a sleep-deprived expression, and muttered some semi-coherent line about the project properly spanking the lot of them.
From there, the marketing team shot up, curiously awake again as they looked at one another, realizing they’d found their theme – Spank!
This of course is utter nonsense made up as I gaze upon the fine golden hue of this saison ale and sniff and consider its hoppy and equally garden fresh floral nose. However for what it’s worth, it has filled column inches. However as much as I may like to think you, my dear readers, patron my work solely for the clever writing and story telling, there of course remains, the beer itself.
And in this brew, a very clever balance of saison spice and hoppy bitter are combined in such a way that this may in respect to such a style, possess the most honest aroma I’ve encountered in recent drinks. Just as the scent promises, a rich and balanced mix of clean, earthy hop flavor and notes of almost tart spice and pepper combine to form an altogether smooth and dynamic flavor. Somewhat bready in its mouthfeel and texture, the elements of a conventional farmhouse or saison ale are right there, yet with a distinctly east coast American feel that goes beyond simply the hop profile to it.
An almost indescribable element to this brew comes forward in a manner that is as exclusive to their work as it is illusive in respect to how it’s best described. In this, it is a “know it when you taste it” sort of play, which somewhere between texture and flavor profile, almost screams of the New Hampshire seacoast. Like many breweries who’ve graduated beyond the overt batch-to-batch variant flavors that can occur outside of brewers’ intentions, Smuttynose has developed a subtle, yet distinct and difficult to describe flavor underpinning which serves it well as a matter of enjoyable brand recognition.
Such comes through in the Spank, which as an added bonus is a release which wisely and fashionably preserves a great deal of its overall flavor profile by virtue of its flat black bottle. As increasing numbers of breweries turn to canning to avoid light pollution and carbonation issues, Smuttynose has – at least for this particular release – gone well beyond the light reducing brown glass, opting for a painted vessel which serves it well both aesthetically and practically.
All in all, as the small state of New Hampshire continues to enjoy its rapidly expanding craft beer and brewery environment, Smuttynose is and remains at the forefront of granite state brewing, and in this, their 21st year of creating such offerings, this “butt-smackingly delicious hoppy saison” is something of a delight to be enjoyed as the summer months roll in.
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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