Beer Review 0339: Smuttynose Zinneke Belgian Stout
It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a Smuttynose beer, so I decided to grab one of their Big Beer Series bomber bottles and remedy that.
Located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Smuttynose Brewing Company is named for Smuttynose Island, the third largest of nine islands that comprise the Isles of Shoals, located seven miles off the New Hampshire and Maine coasts. The island is best known for a brutal double axe murder that took place in 1873.
The brewery began production in 1994 and are currently expanding, with a new facility being built — there’s even a website where you can watch a live cam of the building process.
As previously mentioned, Zinneke, a Belgian Stout, belongs to the BIG BEER series, a group of limited release offerings that generally come out once per month. Zinneke is named in honor of doggy citizens of Brussels; you’ll find that Smuttynose are very dog-friendly. A stout brewed with Belgian yeast, some of the beer is aged in bourbon barrels and blended in with the remainder of the normal brew. The ABV (alcohol by volume) is 8.4%, and the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) are 50. This bottle of Zinneke was released in October 2012.
The pour issued forth an average size head, creamy in texture and fizzy. It lasted a couple minutes atop a beer that was dark brown out of the light, but was actually ruby red when held to a bulb, translucent and free of particles and sediment. A beautiful liquid but just not a Stout color. Lacing was fair, and I noticed the head was very easy to regenerate, even making an audible fizz when swirling in the glass.
The aroma comes off like a typical barrel aged Stout, but with just a hint of the Belgian yeast. The yeast adds a fruity component and a musty, bready scent. As the brew warmed, more of the classic banana aroma came out; this mixed wonderfully with big hits of vanilla, bourbon, and a nice dark chocolate, with lighter tones of toasted bread. There’s ample dark fruit here, too; raisin, prune, and jammy grape.
If you’re looking for the Belgian bend in this beer, it’s here on the taste, immediately greeting the palate with a big banana blast, as well as some orange peel. It’s dry and transitions to more of a classic Stout in the middle of the sip, featuring dry bakers chocolate, vanilla swirls, some bourbon and woodsy oak. The finish brings back more of the banana and orange peel, this time teaming with roasted coffee and velvety fudge to leave behind a sweet finish. Zinneke is full-bodied with a medium mouthfeel, foamy and hidden alcohol.
I had my doubts about this beer just looking at the bottle, but I found myself nicely rewarded with a tasty drink. The bourbon barrel is subdued and that’s the right choice in this instant. There’s just the right about of it that mingles with the Belgian yeast quite nicely. Solid, and I would return and possibly age a bottle.
Smuttynose Zinneke Belgian Stout, 91 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.