Smuttynose, Hanami Ale


Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Grade: D

This one goes out to my ex-pat friend Rory, who right now is most likely sippin' on a tall-boy of Sapporo under some mind-bogglingly beautiful cherry blossoms in Japan. Check out his blog. Hell, even donate a buck or two to his beer-fund. You'll be a better person for it. Anyhoo, Hanami are the annual parties that the Japanese hold to celebrate the blooming of the cherry blossom trees. Basically they hang out under the trees, drink, and be generally weird. Again, I refer to my friend Rory's blog, it's a wealth of knowledge on just how weird and awesome things get over there. I guess Smuttynose decided it would be a good idea to brew a cherry flavored Hanami beer. I'm not sure I agree with that decision.

A slightly off-white head sits atop a hazy, very red ale. The red is a little disconcerting in it's vibrancy, but I suppose that's the influence of the cherries. The head drops to a coating on the beer fairly quickly, not leaving much lace. I can immediately smell the cherries, and flashbacks to Sam Adams Cherry Wheat make me involuntarily shudder. The cherry here isn't quite as bad as Sam Adams though, some bread aromas are present too. Mouthfeel is very light. Whoa. Lot of mineral flavors here, like a rusty penny. The cherry is sour and tangy, not very sweet. The mineral and metallic flavors are almost too much for me, it's overpowering the whole beer. I saved the cap, and inspected the bottle, but there doesn't seem to be any problems with either. As I sip, the off-flavor seems to be settling down, but that might just be me getting acclimated to it.

The ale is light, the cherry is kept to a reasonable level, and sweetness overall is not bad. The finish is dry, with a moderate amount of carbonation. The cherry character seems fresh, if only because it tastes tart and sour. Honestly, this wouldn't be such a bad beer if that metallic/mineral off-flavor wasn't there. The flavor has moved into the middle palate now, and leaves that metallic flavor on your tongue. This is too much, this one is going down the drain.

I'm not sure what happened here. Bottling issues? Recipe issues? Either are possibilities. I've tasted that exact same metallic flavor before in other beers of completely different styles, so it would lead me to think that something happened in packaging. Which is too bad, considering many people will judge an entire line of beer from that first sip. I've had Smuttynose before, albeit 5 years ago at a music festival after already imbibing quite a bit during the day. I couldn't finish my bottle then either. It was a long time ago, however that one bad instance stayed with me to this day, until (for the first time in 5 years) I bought this bottle of Smuttynose. Lo and behold, it's circling the drain. Bad luck? Inconsistent brewing practices? Not sure. But it's going to take a long time and a lot of expensive therapy to make me pick up a bottle of Smuttynose again.