Sweetwater Brewing Co.
Georgia Brown Ale
An inch of head pops up over this lively brown beer and settles to a full finger of khaki turbulence. Already, a lacing is starting to form. The color is certainly brown – dark garnet meets oxidizing apple flesh. Barely translucent, this brew is a sexy slurry of vermillion and mud.
The nose is flour-soft with fine cocoa powder and honey cereal aromas emerging amongst slow blooming florals and citrus.
The mouthfeel is not overwhelmingly full, but it is by no means thin. It is even and smooth. Milky cocoa mingles with some slightly soapy lemon flavors that don’t have quite enough zing. Neither the malt nor the hops seem to want to take over, which is fine and leads to balanced sipping, but in this case, the sip is relatively boring until the end when a bit of sweetness spreads across the palate, and the green florals open up a bit.
As labeled, it’s “easy drinkin’” and “smooth as a Bill Clinton apology” – it’d be great with some charred barbecue which might help bring out some more of the roastiness.
Wild Goose Brewery
I am saddened to learn that the Wild Goose Brewery was bought by Flying Dog and subsequently closed. Both the IPA and Oatmeal Stout were solid brews. Also, it means this batch of Brown Lager, and any IPA or Stout I might have, will be my last (and may be past its due date).
A fine tawny lace shows no signs of diminishing any time soon. Swarms of delicate pearl strands fly up the glass to make sure. The clarity is very good, though the beer is quite dark, like root beer with touches of vermillion and eggplant through the light.
The nose has hints of dry straw, coconut flesh, and a bit of molasses. The crackling straw aroma hints at hops, but there is more richness of malt than anything.
The mouthfeel is a bit thin, with the effervescence being the most prevalent thing. It feels a bit like mineral water at first. Gradually, some of that slatiness turns into a bit of lemon, but not really. A slightly roasted character feints at the middle of the tongue, but disappears just as quickly.
At 4.3%, this beer is an easy drinking session beer, and with the lack of any defined body, it’s just as well that it can be drunk quickly.
Boulder Beer Co.
Flashback India-Style Brown Ale
It may not be the right style (in fact, it’s a totally fabricated style) but I really wanted to use the new tulip glasses that my brother gave me for Christmas.
The color is a deep burgundy maple syrup color with some purplish bruise hues. A fine, light tan head doesn’t seen to stick around, though a frothy halo clings the inside edge of the glass.
Boulder Beer Flashback India Brown
The nose is a fine mix of citrus and floral hops, emitting a perfumy odor that gets some foggy texture thanks to raisin bread crust and chocolate truffle maltaromas.
The mouthfeel is very good, heading towards great. Fine carbonation initiates some mild floral hops, followed by a wash of just mildly perceptible toasted dark bread with a faint hint of acrid char that head right in to the finish. That finish is all sparkling hops, with grapefruit and tart green grapes melding with a final milky smoothness as the malt tries its best to kick free again.
As a Colorado brew from the brewery that makes Hazed & Infused dry-hopped ale and Cold Hop, it’s not surprising that the hops get their name in lights, but I’m impressed with the subtlety with which Boulder introduces the roastiness. As the beer warms, more of the chocolate malt comes out, but the finish is still clean. This one is also a sneaky 6.8%. If I had another in the fridge, I’d drink it right now.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Touted as an “Autumn Brown Ale”, I figure that, now that it’s September, it’s suitable to try. Also, I’m sitting on Nantucket Island, waiting for Hurricane Earl to come test the abilities of the area roofers, so I figure it’s a good time to settle down with a good beer.
The pour is not too lively, but bubbles up with a beige head which hangs around at a little less than a quarter of an inch. Lively carbonation visible through good clarity keeps it going.
The color is a fine light cola brown with some garnet touches when held to the light. There is a nice chocolate color but just enough red in the background to make me think that this won’t be too roasted or cocoa-like.
The nose is a nice amalgam of malt and hops – slightly sweet milk chocolate comes through at first but with some great grass and pepper hop character. Even after five minutes or so, the layer of head has persisted, with some slight dissipation showing a nice ability to cling.
The mouthfeel is spectacular – simultaneously smooth and effervescent. The start is all creamy malts with a silky, milky body but it gives way to a nice little tang that has some very light florals and a touch of grapefruit under what is otherwise a very snappy, slightly metallic end.
As usual, Sierra Nevada comes through with flying colors, and they’ve steered away from their usual Cascade hop body. Only good things out of Chico.
Real Ale Brewing Co.
Brewhouse Brown Ale
This Real Ale sampler pack is great as it provides three different beers – two bottles each – rather than just one bottle of six types, the way Shiner does it. This allows for sampling for reviewing, and sampling for enjoying. The final in this threesome is the brown ale.
There is no rocky billowing head, which isn’t altogether unusual for a brown ale. The effervescence is good though, as is the clarity.
The color is a bit on the red side of cola brown. There is more orange and brick red in there than brown.
The nose is sweet and bready. Some mild toasted grain notes rise up under the warm brown bread body. A faint whiff of what smells like Noble hops comes through the roasted grains a bit.
The mouthfeel is full, with impressively more body than you might think from such a translucent brown ale. The effervescence is fairly lively and carries a nice cleanliness that pairs perfectly with what turns out to be a very subtle yet present roastiness. Brown sugar, fresh bread crust, and just a bit of malty toffee. Some hops help to dry out the finish, preventing this from coming across as sweet.
This is a great subtle brown ale. For those of you who are a bit wary of the burnt quality that can accompany some browns, check this out. It is smooth and dry, but carries enough flavor to pair with food.
St. Arnold Brewing Co.
So far, St. Arnold is three-for-three on Brew York City. Not that I keep track of wins and losses – nor do I deign to ‘score’ or ‘rate’ beer – but every time I crack open one of St. Arnold’s brews, I am transported to a place where the (St. Arnold) beer flows like wine and beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Or something. This Brown Ale is number four; let’s see how the clean-up hitter does.
The pour yields a very reddish-brown hue with more of an amber color than a pure brown, but brunette highlights on this amber beauty do a lot to bring out some nice earth tones overall.
When held to the light, the deep amber-orange is accented and the clarity is excellent. Fine effervescence makes it way slowly to the top of the glass. About three-quarters 0f an inch of off white, slightly yellow head billows up quickly, like many malty ales, but settles to a soft downy coating over the surface.
The nose has strong cinnamon and brown sugar notes, like warm pastry. The whole aroma is mellow and a slight hint of tangy hops seeps its way into the background with a slightly sticky character that is probably more sweet malt than floral hops, but seems to promise a full finish.
The mouthfeel is very good, one of the more interesting brown ales I’ve tried. While some are exceptionally smooth and almost thin all the way through, others are too roasty. This is a delicate balance. Initially, you are met with a carbonated kick which settles back to a soft, slightly creamy cocoa flavor. This is mild and opens up to a warm sourdough texture – neither too sweet nor too sour – finally giving way to the most perfect amount of floral-fruity tones of West Coast hops.
Once again, I cannot stress enough about my love affair with St. Arnold Brewing. They have continually exceeded my expectations and St. Arnold Brown Ale is no exception.
Mercury Brewing Co
Ipswich Nut Brown
Pour is nice and even with fantastic head retention – a half inch of cappuccino-foam head nestles atop the very murky brew. The color is deep butterscotch and chocolate and, when held to the light, a good deal of lively carbonation can be seen making its trek to the top of the glass along the slightly garnet edges.
Like a golden retriever, this beer has a wet nose. The malt comes across as damp moss with a sweet, earthy hint of loam. Certainly, there is chocolate, though it smells slightly burned, which will hopefully impart a nice roastiness to the beer. There are touches of cinnamon and maybe even a hint of something more savory, like cumin. Even after taking the time to take in the aroma of the beer, a sturdy cap of foam is propped on top of the glass, just like a good ale should.
The beer is very nicely roasted. There is no sere or tangy quality to the malt, which can sometimes wipeout the palate. Hints of cocoa, dried fruits, pumpernickel, and even charred meat comes out very slightly, but it is not overly rich. There is a VERY clean hop back that tidies things up toward the back of the swallow.
The lacing is more like a whiteout, with the whole of the glass’s interior being coated in residue. This is lovely. This beer has enough roasted malt body to bring to the flavors of, say, your favorite brisket, yet is refreshing and light enough that it won’t feel heavy atop a full BBQ meal. For a first review of 2010, this is an excellent sample.