Smuttynose Brewery, out of Portsmouth, NH, produces some of the finest Ales in all of New England. Founded by the same guys that started Portsmouth Brewery (Yup, the same Portsmouth that makes Kate the Great), Smutty is the quintessential ale house for year-round comfort in my area. Their standards are, well, pretty standard. A very well done brown ale, a nice porter, and a simple but well crafted IPA. Where they really shine though is in their Big Beer Series, an area where they can put together some great ideas and put their own spin on some more difficult styles.
While I’ve had most of the Smutty Big Beer offerings, tonight I’m taking care of the Gravitation, a Belgian Quadruple brewed with 200 pounds of pureed raisins. Generally what you get from a Quad is a malt-monster, quite high in alcohol, lots of phenols, with a robust start-middle-finish. It might be a bit of a stretch to call Smutty’s offering a Quad, but that style seems pretty subjective to me so I’m not too worried about the classification. I poured the 22 oz. Gravitation into a Westmalle Chalice (Or goblet, no idea which is which) and was immediately met with a cascade of foam that poured all over the couch. Could be a bad pour on my part, but from an appearance standpoint you get the idea that there’s some head in there. The lace never dissipated and coated the glass until the last drop. From the nose you do get some of the dry raisin and green apple coming up at you, but more than anything is a nice sour bite that hits you in the eyes. For some reason I like that. The first taste I noticed was toffee, caramel, toffee, and a bit of toffee. Almost sticky sweet with a touch of bitterness at the end that tones it down a little. Mouthfeel is as heavy as expected, but the carbonation keeps that in check so it’s not overwhelming.
The Belgian Quad is a difficult style to get right and I’ve had some truly awful domestic examples. I think Smutty puts out a nice representation of a dark Abbey Ale, call it a Quad or anything else you like. I probably wouldn’t pick up another bottle as I’d rather have a Dogfish Raison D’Etre for something similar (Not a Quad by the way), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I’ll go with 3 hops here as I was happy throughout the tasting. What more could you ask for?