Smithwick’s Irish AleNovember 1, 2004 Kilkenn,. Ireland
E. Smithwick & Sons
Imported by: Diageo-Guinness USA
Place: Stamford, CT
Available: nationwide on draft
Smithwick’s history dates back to 1710 at St. Francis Abbey in Kilkenny, Ireland. The abbey was constructed by Franciscan monks in the 13th century.
Alcohol (wt.): n/a
Alcohol (vol.): n/a
There’s good solid color here with a soft-spoken, thick head and mellow aromatics; leading one to expect a rich, well balanced, assertive palate, which is missing. This is a “nice” beer—but we expect much more than that, now don’t we? Cheese? Maybe Kraft Velveeta.
- Fred Eckhardt
Guinness’ less famous brother has a deep amber color and a tight-knit tan head. The aroma is lightly malty, a combination of bread, caramel and butter biscuits. Given the dark color, the palate comes as a surprise. It’s quite light-bodied and dry, with a touch of fruit and malt supported by restrained bitterness. The finish is crisp and short with a mineral tang. Quite drinkable, but there are no thrills here. No one will complain if you bring it to a party, and it’ll be just the thing for that ham sandwich.
- Garrett Oliver
Until recently, this beer was not on sale in the United States. In its absence, Smithwicks provoked more questions on my website from American beer drinkers than any other product. I think this says more about the sentimental connection that diaspora Irishmen feel for the old country than it does for the distinctiveness of this beer. At its best, it had a richness compounded by diacetyl (which I do not consider to be a fault, though brewing scientists do). This sample had an out-of-place suggestion of sulphur, and not a great deal of life. Yes, the cookie-like palate was still there, balanced by a dryish finish, but I would have liked a little bit more structure.
- Michael Jackson
Fred Eckhardt lives, writes about and drinks beer in Portland, OR. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style and Saké.
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.
Author of Ultimate Beer, the Simon & Schuster Guide to Beer and numerous other works on drinks, Jackson has created legions of converts to fine beer.
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