Smuttynose IPA “Finest Kind” – A Dank Beer With A Dirty NamePosted: July 16, 2011
Smuttynose Brewing Company
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
American IPA / 6.9% ABV /65 IBU
Alright, first things first. I have to say that this beer has one of the most interesting names of any beer you can find. It’s not gimmicky. It’s the name of the brewery, a simple “IPA” and then “Finest Kind”. But it’s the NAME of the brewery, “Smuttynose”, and the beers monicker “Finest Kind” that kind of make the mind wander. Smuttynose comes from the Isles of Shoals, located just off the coast of New Hampshire (technically they are in the state of Maine). At 25 acres, it is the third largest of the Shoal Islands. The name comes from some (more than likely completely wasted and, being on a boat for a while, probably extremely randy) fishermen who, seeing the island at sea level, noticed how the seaweed at one end looked like the “smutty nose” of some vast sea animal. Take that description and “Finest Kind” and I’ll let you think about that one on your own.
I have to pay homage to the label as well; it’s simple with two old men sitting on fold up chairs on their front lawn representing the beer. The old guy on the left says “India Pale Ale”, and he guy on the right responds with “Finest Kind”. It works. Again, nothing gimmicky. As a side note, my father-in-law REALLY digs the label in addition to the beer. Dude makes some KILLER hot sauces and wants to devise a label similar to this one to slap on the front of his bottles of ass torch. Smart. He recognizes quality.
There’s nothing gimmicky about the beer either:
Appearance – Poured from a 12oz bottle into my tulip drinking vessel. Beautiful amber color with a lot of sediment, or “lees” floating around in this beer so you can tell it’s not filtered. Super dope GE bright white 100 watt light bulb 2 finger head that sticks to the glass and leaves crazy lacing all over the place. The head went crazy and just laced shit up like an alcohol graffiti artist. Lately, I like to sit and stare at the lacing and try to figure out what shapes it is making. In this particular glass I saw a hadrosaurus, a kangaroo and the Hawaiian islands.
Smell – In this order: Grapefruit, florals, more grapefruit, grass, and bread. Yeah, as far as IPA’s go, it can’t get much better than the smell of this. It’s definitely got a “dankness” about it. This is “only” 65 IBU but you can smell the bitterness emanating from this. This hits on all of my key IPA criteria: Grapefruit, dank, IBU and bitter.
Sound – That’s right I introduced a sound category to beer reviewing. I’m innovating the beer review process. Remember Rice Crispies? Snap, Crackle and Pop. Remember when you used to stick your damn ear up to your cereal bowl to listen to it crackling all over the place like pop rocks in your milk. Well, I decided to stick my ear up to my beer and listen to the bubbles in the foam of the head and that was smart. A beer’s head is considered a quality as it relates to the style so the SOUND of that head should be considered a factor, more specifically the liveliness of it. The head on this beer SOUNDS lively as all get out and it’s all over the place with a fierceness. Quality.
Taste – OK, this is bitter right off the bat. INDEED. It attacks your tongue and taste buds with a ferocity. Crazy bitter grapefruit right up front and I’ll be damned if you don’t get a bit of sea salt there as well. I’ll be honest, I started eating spam at the same time I started drinking this and that was a HUUUUUGE mistake. The saltiness of the spam and the bit of salt you get from this beer was like a sodium gang war on my tongue. The spam ended up in the freakin’ garbage. I like spam but I’ll be damned if I’m going to quit drinking a beer this good for it.
And remember the bit of bread detected in the smell? Well, the bready biscuit maltiness in the smell does a fine job of underlying the bitterness of the hops. It’s there like a mediator for your tongue between the upfront bitter attack on your mouth muscle and the back end assault you get on the swallow. Again, this is “only” 65 IBU but it’s definitely an assault on your mouth.
Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, leading on the thick side of things, balanced by a nice refreshing carbonation. The beer definitely pimp slaps your taste buds on the way in and on the way out. Your tongue becomes it’s bitch.
Overall, I’d have to say this is one of my favorite IPAs. And it’s an East Coast IPA and it could destroy most IPA’s on BOTH coasts. I’m lucky as hell to be able to get this at my local craft beer store down here in Florida City. If (God forbid) Smuttynose decided to limit production and I wasn’t able to find residence on the nose of a smutty nosed sea monster on the Isle of Shoals, I would definitely look to take up residence somewhere close to brewery so I could enjoy this beer on the regular.