Beer Review 0088: Smuttynose Finestkind IPA

Smuttynose Brewing Company, located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, opened for business in 1994. The very first beer they brewed was Shoals Pale Ale, a traditional British style ESB (Extra Special Bitter). While quite hoppy, drinkers urged Smuttynose to brew something with even more hops.

Enter Finestkind IPA, an India Pale Ale brewed for hopheads. Brewed with Simcoe, Santiams, and Amarillo hops to an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 6.9%, this one is meant to quench the thirst of hop lovers.

The pour gave an average size head, frothy and lasting. The body of the beer was very cloudy, and there were some significant chunks of particles and sediment floating in the beer. Smuttynose bottles this one unfiltered, but the size of the sediment surprised me; while not quite chunky, it was heavy. Color wise, this beer was a golden orange, almost bordering on tangerine. Sheets upon sheets of lacing was left on the glass while drinking. A very nice looking IPA.

On the nose, this is an extremely carefully balanced beer — the malts hit my sniffer first, with some sweet caramel and bready notes. The hops are there, too; some wonderful citrus aromas, like lemon and grapefruit, are abundant. The whole thing is very perfume-like, and I could smell this one in the glass from across the room. That being said, the overall aroma was kind of light but potent. There was a little bitter IPA kick in there, too, and a hint of tropical fruit came out as the liquid warmed.

Taking a sip, the palate is first treated to some initial sweetness from the malt, but the hoppy punch soon takes over in the middle of the sip with some crushing citrus. The finish rides an extremely bitter note — for 65 IBUs, or International Bitterness Units, this one seems much more bitter than that rating. This beer has a crisp and drying mouthfeel, and the finish gets medicinal (crushed aspirin) the longer it goes.

The whole story is this: perfect appearance, perfect aromatics. But the flavors were a bit of a let down, as this seems like a beer that is too out of balance. That being said, this is still a damn good brew, I just think the extreme bitterness hurts the overall drinkability

Not a beginner IPA, for sure, but if you like tongue curling bitter, this is for you.

Smuttynose Finestkind IPA, 88 points. Price: $8.99 US for a six pack.


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