The Hippo


May 26, 2020








 What’s in My Fridge

The Shed Brewery Mountain Ale: The Mountain Ale is a terrific brown ale with a complex flavor, rich malt, roasted notes of caramel and toffee and a little umph from the 7.4 ABV. When you have a really good brown ale like this, it makes me, first, remember how much I enjoy brown ales and, second, question why more breweries aren’t offering brown ales. Cheers!

Ode to an Old Brown Dog
Smuttynose has been craft beer icon in NH for 24 years


 When I think about Smuttynose Brewing Co., I think about Old Brown Dog, Smuttynose’s regionally iconic brown ale. I think about the label image of the actual brown dog adorning every bottle. I can even picture the dog’s soft, droopy ears. I remember years ago sitting on the beach with my family watching the sunset on a perfect summer’s night. I know I had an Old Brown Dog in hand. 

Perhaps I’m getting a bit overly nostalgic, but I do think that’s indicative of how a good brew can be more than just a beer. Old Brown Dog and Smuttynose Brewing have been family favorites of mine for nearly two decades. Old Brown Dog is a wonderful, robust, malty brown ale featuring just a bit of nutty sweetness in every sip. It’s not the best brown ale I’ve ever tried, but I enjoyed it every time I had one. 
When I heard Smuttynose was going up for auction, I immediately thought about Old Brown Dog and how it had been a while since I’d had one. For me, Smuttynose was an old fallback. Beers were consistently good, if not exceptional: Smuttynose beers were never the biggest, the hoppiest, the most flavorful or the most intense. From the outside, it never seemed like the brewery was interested in that. But Smuttynose beers have always been solid, approachable and enjoyable. There was something comforting about knowing you just couldn’t go wrong with Smutty. 
“[Smuttynose has] had a huge impact in shaping and developing the craft beer market here in New Hampshire,” said Scott Schaier, executive director of the Beer Distributors Association of New Hampshire, and a board member of Brew NH (, a nonprofit organization promoting craft beer in New Hampshire. “One of a few early pioneers, they helped introduce consumers to craft beer and along the way introduce beer consumers to New Hampshire in general and to New Hampshire beer specifically. Transformational impact to sum it up.”
As the craft beer movement took over the country and region in recent years, perhaps Smuttynose didn’t evolve well enough. Perhaps it was too big in a movement characterized by breweries so small in scale they could operate in a space the size of a single-car garage. Smuttynose does tout itself as New Hampshire’s largest producer of craft beer. Perhaps it wasn’t bold enough. Or, most likely, it was just as simple as owner Peter Egelston articulated in a press release earlier this month:
“The company’s financial models were based on 20 years of consistent growth but the explosion of microbreweries has led to changing dynamics in the marketplace. This dramatic shift occurred just as Smuttynose committed to a major infrastructure investment with the construction of the new production facility. As the turmoil in the marketplace stabilizes, Smuttynose, a trusted brand with strong consumer loyalty, can regain its footing with a major infusion of capital.”
It wasn’t about the beer, though. From the Shoals Pale Ale, to the Robust Porter, to the Single Digit Dubbel (formerly Smuttynose Winter) to its Old Brown Dog and its many other seasonal and limited release offerings, Smuttynose beers were consistently good. 
The auction is scheduled for March 9.
“I hope that new ownership will be a good steward for the brand and the company and offer a good fit and commitment to New Hampshire,” Schaier said.
Many are likely very happy to hear the Portsmouth Brewery is not part of the sale. The Smuttynose influence will live on. 
Jeff Mucciarone is a senior account executive with Montagne Communications, where he provides communications support to the New Hampshire wine and spirits industry. 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu