As more and more new breweries open and many beer drinkers focus their attention (and dollars) on what is new and exciting it is important for established veterans of the brewing community to continually innovate. While some breweries have re-vamped their entire lineup of beers to meet changing consumer tastes, others try to balance their classic styles with new releases. One of the interesting ways a brewery can achieve this balance is to set up a special series of small batch one-off or rotating releases that highlights experimentation. A great example of this is Smuttlabs, the series of rare and unusual small batch beers released by Smuttynose. Smuttlabs is focused on tapping into the creativity of Smuttynose’s brewers without the constraints of large batch size, allowing them to experiment with barrel aging, different strains of yeast and sour beers. Some Smuttlabs releases rotate while others are one-offs, they typically release 1-2 beers a month. One of their fall releases was Thelema, a Belgian style golden ale. Thelema is available for a limited time in 500 mL bottles.
Smuttynose Thelema pours a pale orange with a minimal white head. The scent is mostly the Belgian yeast, a significant whiff of fruity esters. The yeast also leads the flavor, notes of clove, apple, bubblegum and pear. The malts are also well represented, touches of honey, crackers and candi sugar along with a hint of boozy sweetness. The hops are mild, just a little earth and grass and enough bitterness to help dry the beer out. Thelema is medium bodied and at 8.5% ABV has enough booziness to keep you from drinking too quickly. The finish is crisp with some lingering fruity yeast flavors. I have always enjoyed Smuttynose beers and I am glad to see them branching out and experimenting to complement their traditional lineup. Smuttlabs Thelema is a worthwhile addition to the catalogue and I look forward to sampling more Smuttlabs releases in the near future! Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Smuttynose Reviews: