A Gnome By Any Other Name

Yes, this might just be one of the creepiest beer labels ever printed.

I had almost given up on those small batch, big bottle beers after my experience with Shipyard Smashed Blueberry earlier this month. I picked up a bottle of the stuff because I typically enjoy blueberry flavored beers and most kinds of Shipyard, but I didn’t enjoy it all that much, and — heaven forbid — wound up dumping some out. In truth, I’m a pretty simple beer drinker. I’m usually content to just have a can of Harpoon Summer or a nice Porter. I’m not someone who spends a lot of time sipping Barley Wine.

Then JT, the self-proclaimed “minister of propaganda” for Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, dropped me a line to let me know that he had a bottle of their new Homunculus Belgian-style ale with my name on it. Even in my current anti-big bottle phase, I couldn’t resist.

Before he handed me the beer, JT issued me a warning, which is typically something that only The Beer Drinker is allowed to do. But JT knows his beer, so I listened carefully. His warning was that the Homunculus doesn’t drink like a strong beer — it’s pretty smooth — but its alcohol content is just short of 10 percent. In other words, he cautioned, it’s probably not a wise idea to operate heavy farm equipment after drinking it.

Homunculus is the newest addition in Smuttynose’s Big Beer Series. It’s also the first beer to move to the Big Beer Series from its single-batch, draft-only Short Batch Series.

First brewed in 2007, it was originally called “The Gnome.” But when it became a Big Beer, it needed a fancier name. Thus Homunculus, which, according to JT, is “loosely synonymous with gnome.” Sounds a bit too much like something out of “Game of Thrones” to me, but if it tastes good, the name doesn’t matter all that much to me.

And it does taste good. It’s hoppier and wheatier tasting than the beers I usually drink, but it’s got a bit of a sweetness that cuts the hoppiness and makes it smooth and drinkable. Most of all, though, when the bottle was empty, I found myself wanting another one — the true test of a good beer.

Where you can buy it:
Bottles, 372 Commercial St., Boston
Craft Beer Cellar, 51 Leonard St., Belmont
Liquor World, 31 White St., Porter Square, Cambridge

Tale of the tape:
Alcohol by volume: 9.9%
International bitterness units: 45
Hops per barrel: Nearly 3 pounds
Production size: 150 barrels (4650 gallons)

Mr. X is a contributor to the Beer Drinking Report. He enjoys writing about beer, and gnomes.