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Got Beer? Feeling Smug: This new brewery has reason to be proud of its latest offerings

Right over the line from Providence into Pawtucket, on the former site of Bucket Brewery, is one of the newest of the many breweries in RI, Smug. I recently checked out their Blocker Pale Ale and their Short and Stout.

The pale is billed as an American pale ale, which I assumed means significantly more hoppy with a variably shifting definition of the word “pale.” But I tried not to pre-judge — I’ve been surprised before — and gave it a whirl.

The aroma hit my nose from three feet away — it was a sort of tangerine and kiwi citrus zest. The color is a robust gold with a fine filmy lacing left on the glass. The citrusy flavor is surprisingly subdued on first sip, and I braced myself for a massive tropical assault to my palate. Instead, the sweetness is well balanced, and I could actually taste the malty background. It’s nicely balanced, sweet with a slightly crisp finish.


This pale seems to follow in the footsteps of the New England IPA, embracing sweet and fruity hop flavors over the more traditional earthy, piney, variety that dominates most pale ales, even and especially here in America. In fact, I’d say that calling it an American pale ale is a bit of a misnomer, and Smug should proudly brand its brew as a uniquely New England-style pale ale. Though, honestly, it probably also straddles the fence between pale ale and IPA. While the hops don’t overpower, it’s impossible not to notice their contribution to the brew. There’s no IBU rating on the can, but I’m fine with that, because even that could be misleading. While this is a hoppy brew, it’s definitely part of the bold new wave of fruity IPAs that are slowly taking over the shelves, leaving big, bold and bitter far in the dust … or maybe just sitting alone in a far-flung corner of the beer cooler.

The Short and Stout is a completely different animal. Billed as a chai vanilla stout, this translucent brown brew smells sweet, with very little hint of the expected cardamom. It’s a very sweet brew, but a little light for a stout. The chai spices are very subtle, only surfacing on the carbonation to dance on the palate for a brief moment before the sweet finish of the vanilla. Honestly, it’s reminiscent of Bucket’s Black Goat of the Woods in flavor, though clearly a unique creation. Still, I’d like to think of it as the spiritual successor, but without the shadow of Shub Niggurath hanging over it. It’s sweet, light for a stout, slightly spicy, and a warm welcome after a bitterly cold night.

I’m looking forward to what else comes out of Smug’s brew kettles. If this is a taste of what’s to come, I think I’ll go crack open another.