Beer UP: Smuttynose Brewing’s Star Island Single


Beer UP is an attempt to examine as many of the fine craft brews across the country as possible. Following the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, the rubric has five simple categories: appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and overall experience. With the help of you, dear reader, we’ll create a discussion about what makes a good beer, why that’s important, and what it all means, man.

This week: a bottle of Star Island Single, a Belgian Pale Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from a six-pack found at the bodega on the corner of my street. Don’t worry, I poured it into a glass.

ABV: 4.7%

Appearance: Isn’t beer just beautiful? Even if the you stumble upon one with taste that’s so-so, the golden, bubbly substance is just a delight to look at. The Star Island Single is no different. After I poured and the rush of carbonation leveled off, the brew appeared hazy, almost soapy. For a moment, I wondered if it was flat because the head — which only started as about a centimeter deep — disappeared within 30 seconds, leaving a light, yellowish, non-intimidating drink.

Aroma: The smell isn’t too overpowering, with hints of orange and spice. But the fragrance isn’t too enticing and, frankly, is a bit boring. Perhaps it was the lack of carbonation (or these allergies I’m fighting), but smelling this beer didn’t get me too excited to gulp it down.

Taste: But then I had a sip, and the Star Island Single is not at all what the scent advertises. I expected a characterless light beer, but what I experienced was a rich, zesty drink, full of tangy flavor. The initial impact is bready and malty, but quickly shifts to a sweet direction as the orange flavor kicks in, bringing hints of cinnamon with it. There’s a light bitterness throughout the drink too, but its clean finish leaves a fresh aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This is the second week in a row that I’ve experienced a beer without much carbonation, and I’m really into it, because the beer just goes down so smooth. The lack of bubbles allows you to focus on the flavor of the beer, and in a way, makes you more engaged. The ale was fairly light bodied, too, making the challenge of drinking multiple Star Island Singles not really a challenge at all.

Overall Experience: After a bit of wariness due to the initial scent, Smuttynose’s Star Island Single sailed over my expectations. It’s tangy, and not too sweet. I drank an entire six pack in my apartment when it was roughly 1000 degrees, so I think it’s safe to say that this beer is good for the summer.