This is a fun beer to review. It was released originally as Short Batch #18, and has graduated into a spring seasonal. This is a "durty" brown ale, that's hopped like a Double IPA. It runs at 8.4% ABV, and 97 IBU. It pours dark reddish-brown, with a light brown head that doesn't stick around but does lace well.
The smell is very clean, leaning much more toward hoppy than brown.
The taste is all hops, with the malt sneaking in later. According to Smutty, the hops used are "Bittering-Magnum, Flavor- Nugget, Dry Hop- CTZ and Chinook" while the malt is "North American 2-Row, Munich 10L, Chocolate, C-60, Brown Malt" with White Labs WLP-001 American Ale yeast. This is a very complex taste that you really don't expect from a brown ale. Everything bounces around, and you get lots of flavors all over the tongue and all throughout the drinking process.
This is a beer that I feel like I really deserved today, after shoveling my driveway out. It started shipping in January (my bottle said best by 6/6/2014). Distribution is obviously limited, so pick one up while you can.
I give this one a 4/5. A very good hop-forward brown ale. The hops are very well-balanced against the malt, and the ABV is very subtle. It definitely mellows out as it warms.