Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale comes to us from Smuttynose Brewing Co in Portsmouth, NH. As I was doing my sleuthing on this particular 5.5% ABV American Pale Ale, I learned that Shoals Pale Ale had won a Gold Medal at the 2003 GBBF (Great British Beer Festival) as ‘Best American Beer’. That’s quite an honor I would think!
The Shoals Pale Ale pours into my pint glass looking like any typical APA. It’s a tough cloudy and has an appealing coppery color. The head is also typical of an APA, it creates that frothy type head that hoppy beers tend to make.
The aroma is also typical of the style, to me anyway. Its got something of a piney type of thing going, and there’s also some sweet notes to it as well – I’m going to go with mild caramel at the moment. Overall, the aroma is subtle and nothing really jumps out at you as the “smell me first!” ingredient.
The taste is also, similarly typical American Pale Ale and like the smell nothing really jumps out as out-of-whack. You have the piny hop flavor primarily, but its well balanced with a nice amount of malt and a pleasing bitter finish. Again, nothing stands out here, but I find this Smuttynose beer to be quite enjoyable in its own unpretentious way.
The body was pretty good too – definitely not a watery beer and it had a nice slick mouthfeel and left with a slightly bitter and dry finish.
This beer, to me is like an old reliable car. Maybe its got a fuddy-duddy label of some beat-up shack and utterly boring font for a label. Not flashy, not trying too hard to be something it isn’t. But, what it seems to be is an excellent APA that does everything right without all the excess bling.
I like New England brewers, but I often overlook the Smuttynose beers because I simply don’t notice them on the shelves. I see them, but I’m not compelled to buy them. Looking way back, I did seem to enjoy the Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, and I’m about to give this APA a 3.5 star rating which is pretty good!
Maybe I’ll start looking harder at what Smuttynose Brewing has to offer! I think I might have been denying myself some very good beer!