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Notes on beers in the style

American Brown Ale

Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale

===Updated Review 04/11=== This bottle straight from the brewery thanks to Joey. 1000x better. No infection issues here. A lovely, deep brown color with some decent head and retention. Not much lace, but still looks nice. Decent depth on the color too with some nice red hues coming through. A nice, smooth nuttiness permeates the whole experience and leaves that lingering malty character that one really wants with a brown ale. Carbonation does feel a little prickly which detracts from a...

Berghoff Sundown Dark

12 oz single thanks go out to Kevin for the opportunity to try this beer. I do like the labeling and the presentation of the Berghoff beers, shame that's the best part of the beer. Color is a surprisingly dark body with a smallish head. Minimal retention, minimal lace. Carbonation seems better than average. Nose and tastes give a disappointingly watery feel. Some light malts but the beer is overall grainy and does not produce any significant taste. Ultimately it is a very sweet beer and it...

Improvisación Oatmeal Rye India-style Brown Ale

Given to me as a gift from a well-known bar owner. Many thanks. 750 mL capped bottle. Not really sure what a Oatmeal, Rye, India Brown Ale is, but... Opening produces a HUGE gusher - not a trivial amount of beer lost, in fact around one third of the total contents are lost on the kitchen counter. Makes me think 'infection' or a best 'over-carbonated', we'll see. The pour gives a frankly UGLY, chocolate brown color to the body that looks like viscous med - totally opaque. The head is obviously...

Rocky’s Revenge Bourbon Brown

12 oz bottle, usual stubbie presentation from Tyranena, thanks go out to Kevin for a chance to crack this one. Fairly innocuous looking, mid-brown pour with some creamy head but not much lace. Nose and taste reveal quite a lot of the bourbon character, in fact a bit more than I was expecting. I'm not a huge fan of bourbon aged beers, but an American Brown Ale does at least seem like a sensible place to put such a thing, and this works fairly well. The bourbon notes are not exactly strong, but...

Ode To Mercy

On-tap at Taco Mac in Douglasville, GA, USA. Pour is a good looking, dark brown color with some nice clarity. Carbonation is relatively low which seems appropriate. Small head with some spotty film on the surface and a little lace. A little thin. I read a couple of reviews of this beer which described a coffee note to the beer which to be honest I took with a pinch of salt. "Coffee" taste is one of those default, fallback tastes that I think people sometimes imagine in Stouts and Porters and...

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

On tap @ Taco Mac in Peachtree City, GA, USA. Absolutely delighted by the concept of a SN beer that *should* reduce the hop profile to a lesser role, let's see if the beer manages to apply that theory to practice. Nothing to complain about in the pour. A decent dark brown color (personally I'd like to see a little more red in the body but that's really a personal preference) with a nice, rocky, full head that lingers and produces some super lace. Good looking beer. Nose and tastes do well to...

Bison Organic Imperial Brown Ale

12 oz single from Hop City, Atlanta, GA. Deep brown pour with a nice head. Not very good retention and no lace. Body has a few orange and rust colored highlights. A barrage of sweet, bready malts in the nose and not hint of bitterness of alcohol. The tastes still keep the malt based at the forefront, but add some alcohol and a little bit of bitterness to back up the idea that this is in the American end of the Brown Ale spectrum. Malts hold up well, and the alcohol never gets out of control....

Red Brick Brown Ale

12 oz single. What? I've never reviewed this? Seems unlikely, but here we go. Pour is quite a light, orange color that one would perhaps associate more with an IPA rather than a brown. Head is decent, but retention is not great. Lace is present, but fairly wispy and not especially sticky. Large caramel malts with also a (apparently odd) bourbon note! WTF? Anyway, in the taste the beer gets back to being "normal" with extra malt caramel and some rounded sweetness. A little touch of smoke for me...

Brown Angel

Massive thanks go out to Gregg for the opportunity to try this. Delighted to have the chance, and also humbled by his generosity. 22 oz bottle - silly label that does no favors for craft beer. (I agree with the Bros. comments in the mag about this). Pour is an attractive, deep chestnut brown with some red highlights. Head is a mocha color with some decent retention and a little wispy lace. Nose has the expected (but unwanted), fresh green hop note. Not much to say other than I don't want it,...

Home For The Holidays

22 oz offering from a brewery that I had a chance to try when I was in Boston and was impressed with. The hope here is that they will be coming to GA but this looks like a one-off special release with a larger distribution than normal. Pour is a disappointing, drab looking brown with a serious lack of carbonation or life. The nose and tastes give a slightly acidic, sweet and sour like affair which has me wondering if this beer has turned a bit. It's only a few weeks old and I do not see any...

Red Brick 15th Anniversary

22 oz bottle adorned with an impressive gold foil top. Unusual to see Atlanta Brewing putting it out there in a few different ways; bombers, foiled, bourbon-aged, anniversary offering, transparent label, special release etc. Nice clarity on the reddish-brown pour with a flimsy white head that breaks up quickly. Some watery lace and some legs when we swirl it. Nose is strong with alcoholic vanilla coming to the fore. Tastes are all vanilla bourbon dominated, but the power is restrained and not...

Big Shot

22 oz bottle. Nice clarity om the pour to yield a red/bronze body. Some good, ice-cream dollop type head and some impressive lace. Solid looking. Nose is a little soapy and reveals the larger than necessary hop character that follows. Dry, cocoa notes and bakers chocolate with a dose of greenish hops that seem a bit out of place in the Brown category for me. Finishes with more dry notes. The chocolate comes back in the aftertaste. A bit "green" for me, this beer gives a bit of a fresh hop...

Buzzsaw Brown

12 oz bottle. Pour is a standard color of deep amber, but lacks much head or retention. In that respect a touch disappointing. Nose is also quite mute, with some malts coming through but overall the beer seems rather low-key. A mouthfeel which is below average for me. It feels on the thin side and definitely lacks much presence or lively carbonation. Feels a bit flat. Tastes have the standard malt backbone and some degree of light nuttiness but again it seems to lack punch. For me this is an...

Otter Creek Winter Ale

12 oz single from Green's on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Lively looking, amber body with an off-white head and some decent lace despite relatively little retention. Looks solid, with good clarity. Nose is malty with a touch of infused, sweet fruit that is not necessarily that of raspberries but does have a ester based whiff. Tastes are much the same in terms of the indistinguishable fruit (although I suppose that here I might guess raspberry) and the same malts that are recorded in the nose. The...

Coffee Bender

Thanks go out to the groovy one for a chance to crack this one. 16 oz can. Nice, garnet color with super clarity. Lovely, high mocha head that fades fairly quickly due to the low carbonation of the can. Lace is there, sticky but not huge. The coffee grounds hit the nose right out of the box, but the funny thing is that it seems to fade quite quickly. I was surprised at that. This is a beer that lends itself very nicely to a little coffee treatment. I love the way that Surly have kept this...

Christmas Ale 2008

Thanks go out to Roy for bringing this back from New Orleans, LA, USA at Christmas 2008. Pour leads to very good clarity in the body, a mid-amber hue and some nice head. Good retention, but strangely not much lace. Aroma gives a malty promise which is fairly well, faithfully reproduced in the taste but also is accompanied by quite a harsh, hop based finish. Drying in the finish too. This leads to a clean experience but a little too soapy for the style IMO. Some nutty character redeems this. I...

Rye Knot Brown

22oz bottle given to me by Jaime herself at the brewery - many thanks. Generic looking label that has been hand-dated with 11.11.08. (It must be really hard work producing this beer!) Dark brown pour with some fairly significant electric orange highlights at the bottom of the glass. A very rich and fullbodied brew from the look, through the mouthfeel and on to the taste. Roasted chocolate notes are prominent in the nose and these get carried through to the initial tastes. Really rich and...

He’Brew Jewbelation 12

11 oz pour at Taco Mac, East West Connector, Austell, GA, USA. $6.25! A still, "black as night" pour with no head. I suspect that this is just due to the inability of the barstaff to pour a beer, but ho hum this is Taco mac and this is what you get - suck it up! Obviously I wanted to allow this to warm some and when one does one is not disappointed. As is often the case with Shmaltz we get a very complex beer in the nose and the tastes. Layer after layer of hops and rich, rich malts compete...

Twain’s Honest Lender Imperial Brown

Crystal clear pour with a solid head and nice lace & retention; this looks very good. Tasty malts are the order of the day (as they should be for a brown ale), and surprisingly (becasue this is categorized as an AMERICAN brown) the hops are reserved. Don't get me wrong, I MUCH prefer toned down hops in my brown ales since it make sense to have a brown with malts being the dominant character, but American browns usually do exactly the opposite - this one doesn't. Couple the fact that this has...

Bender

Can split with Dave at The Brick Store courtesy of arkhamresident - many thanks. I *think* that this had the words "Oatmeal Brown Ale" on the can (whatever that is!) Anyway, on to the beer. Disappointing lack of pop on opening the can and this turned out to be a theme running through the sampling. Rather lifeless and lacking in carbonation. Not a huge problem for the style, but it seemed so low that I began to notice it. Simple brown pour that lacks much head at all, and doesn't offer any lace...

Jackie Brown

Green's on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. I *think* that this was $5.99 for 1 PT 0.9 fl oz bottle. Well it is what it is - it's a pretty good example of an AMERICAN Brown Ale which basically means that it is way too hoppy and as a result loses all the charm of the original style which is all about smoothness and malt rather than bitterness. Nevertheless, a good example of that particular style. Slightly murky mid-brown pour which is also not to my liking. I much prefer a darker brown and more...

Pete’s Brown (Tribute Ale)

=== Updated Review 08/08 === Four months on, and this beer still captures the nutty, malt character of the style nicely. Rich, great brown color and depth and some super red highlights. === Original Review 04/08 === One of my favorite styles. 22 oz bottle, $4.99 State Line Liquors. Deep, deep dark brown pour (from a distance, almost black) with a few garnet highlights but even these are on the dark side. Nice head, some lace. Massive milk chocolate, malt nose. Creamy milk chocolate tastes...

Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown Ale)

12oz single from russpowell as part of a recent trade. Pour has excellent color, with a beautiful red clarity and a nice creamy head. Good lace. Looks inviting. Malty nose, but some extra hop character. It melds quite nicely together. A little sugary-sweet alcohol in there too. Nice malty base which encourages me, but ultimately the hop bitterness slightly spoils the finish for me. I think this is yet ANOTHER American brewed ESB that has too prominent a hop taste. Bitterness lingers a LONG...

Palo Santo Marron

12 oz bottle from the 4-pack with the DVD attached! Thanks to ATLbeerdog for alerting me to the DVD! I nearly missed it! $12.99 from Jax in Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA, USA. Essentially this pours like a RIS. Jet black body, small mocha head and some lace, but not much - in line with the ABV. Looks luxurious. Yeast and malt dominate the nose. Taste? ASTONISHING!!! Alcohol is nowhwere to be seen and it's as smooth as HELL! Wave after wave of sweet, malty, alcohol. I have a feeling that DFH have...

Moose Drool Brown Ale

Notes added 10/07/21 12 oz can (pictured) from a recent Cody, WY trip. it was all said in March of 2008 below. Easy drinking, nutty simplicity that looks great and stylistically true. More English than American, and when it comes to brown ales that couldn’t be better. Malts are in competition with nothing, and the beer drinks like a brown ale should. Smooth, without fuss, understated drinkability. A light touch, but still a beer with presence. This is what beer brewed well tastes like. I do...

Pecan Harvest Ale

12oz stubbie bottle as part of a six pack. Clear orange lucozade color with some decent carbonation but it doesn't translate into much head or lace. Only an aggressive pour leads to any bubbles. Grainy, non-descript nose. Soapy taste is all I rally get, and certainly not nuts. Mild bitterness which is (perhaps) hop based, but it's nothing to speak of. VERY, very thin in the mouth. Watery. One and done here, another very mediocre offering from Abita. I really don't get why some people think...

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

12oz bottle, thanks to a recent trader - apologies, I forget who. Slightly murky pour, this lacks the absolute clarity that I usually look for in my Brown Ales. Some chill haze. A little lace, but the head fades pretty quickly. A good sweetness, with some alcohol. Good, strong malts as one should be expecting/looking for, and a pretty solid package. Although not a real problem, a little too much alcohol seems to be prominent for my liking. Simple brew, nice job.

Lumpy Gravy

22 oz bomber cracked by Dave at The Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. Subsequently in many samples after that. The usual Frank Zappa crazy label. Pour reveals a deep, mahogany, rich brown body with some red highlights. Head is good, plenty of thickish lace. Sticky. Malts are large and smooth with a good bit of residual sweetness. A touch of hop bitterness in the finish but not much to speak of. Smooth and satisfying mouthfeel. Nice brew. Not necessarily what I was expecting from Lagunitas as the...

Terrapin Hop Karma IPA

=== Updated Review 11/09 === I've really come to the conclusion that I don't like this beer very much at all. The combination of what amounts to a wet, fresh hop presence against a malt-based, sweetish Brown Ale simply doesn't work at all well. It simply goes beynd the American tinkering with styles and is a very good example of why pushing the envelope often ends up producing crass beers in poor taste, that taste poor! I'm even going as far to say that this beer simply isn't very good. ===...

Butte Creek Winter Ale

12 oz single from Jax, Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA, USA. Dark, dark brown pour with a certain murkiness about it. Spotty head left on the surface of the brew, not much lace. Sweet and malty nose which is surprisingly reminiscent of an English Brown Ale. However, very quickly this is cut through by the typical taste of the American version of the style. Very hoppy for a traditional Brown Ale, but very typical for the American version. The hoppy, bitterness is tolerable, but toward the end of the...

Saranac Brown Ale

12 oz single. Delighted to find this at Mac's, Atlanta, GA, USA as a single (mixed sixer $6.99), I presume from a broken down mixed Winter 12 pack. I've had quite a number of the Saranac beers, and although generally serviceable, I was not expecting much. This was a nice surprise. I may be a little biased since this (Brown Ale) is one of my favorite styles. Nice pour with classic color and a really impressive head and lacing. Very good looking. Quite citrusy in the nose. A surpise to start...

He’Brew Monumental Jewbelation (10)

22oz Bomber, Green's on Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA. This is a big beer all around. Very dark red pour with nice ruby highlights. Very bold upfront in all aspects - aroma, bitterness, malts, alcohol and general character. Great head and persistent nice lacing. This skates at the very edge for me. Reminiscent of a cross between a Stone Double Bastard and Terrapin BHM. Lots of hyped-up amber/red character (quite dry), but it also hits hard in the American Strong Ale tradition. A sweet and sour...

Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale

Single 12 oz botle from Riverside, Chattanooga, TN, USA. Delicious. Dark red pour with the odd combination of not much persistent head but some really nice lacing. Carbonation is low. Nutty, sweet and wonderful caramel aromas, exactly what I am looking for in a brown ale. Tastes do not quite reflect the malt or the sweetness. I get a much drier and hoppier finish than I was anticipating, but this unexpected trait brings balance. Drinkability is good, and the single bottle I had leaves me...

Stone 8th Anniversary Ale

Thanks to Boolshot for a great trade. 22oz bomber. This is not the best beer that I have had from Stone - not by long chalk. The main problem here is with the style. In a Brown Ale I'm looking for a simple, malt based (low hop presence) easy drinking beer with some sweet notes and probably a pretty low alcohol. This fails on three counts and as a result the drinkability is low. There is a high alcohol taste combined with a hoppy note, all amongst a chocolate-cocoa powedery mouthfeel. A poor...

American Brown Ale

From the mixed Dragon Pack. A surprisingly thick head forms with some lacing. The head is a light brown color, cappuccino like, that sits on top of the deep brown body. Nicely balanced, with a decent bitter bite complemented by the malts, this drinks easily. Some dry acidity too that I would have expected to take away from the beer, but somehow it all seems to stay together rather well. Having said all of that, a little too thin overall for my taste. Aftertaste is a little odd as well, with...

He’Brew Messiah Bold

Interesting and I enjoyed it. Great deep brown garnet color, and a lovely large rocky head. The color of this beer is one of the best dark hues I have seen in sometime - very rich looking and inviting. Head fades a little too quickly though, and there is a distinct lack of lace. Despite that, the color is stunning. A small amount of persistent carbonation. A little thin in the mouth, but there is plenty of real nutty acidity that I really enjoyed. Good dark malts dominate but there is a little...

He’Brew Jewbelation 5766 (9)

Very, very impressed. Delicious looking pour. Deep, deep red, mahogany brown, the depth of color is second to none. Head is large with some lacing, but it fades a little on standing. Aroma and tastes reflect the pour and are deep, deep malts with a nutty overtone and a sugary mouthfeel. Slight hop bitterness in the finish but it's slight and it complements the rest of the beer to produce an unusual balance. This an amazing, "Imperial" (souped up) American version of a Brown Ale. One of the...

Indian Brown Ale

Notes added 3/22/07: (bottle) This is certainly a much hoppier version of the original (English) style and I think the beer suffers as a result. In Brown Ales I am looking for a sweet, malty smooth beer but the hop presence here gives it an edge that is not very welcome in the (original) style for me. Original notes 1/22/06: (bottle) Nice looking beer with good clarity and nice deep brown color - classic brown ale look. A small head and a little bit of lacing. The classic looks are followed by...

Carroll Oak Brown

OK, back to RSTG to give the beer another try a few months after the initial, disappointing visit. If this Brown Ale is anything to go by, things are no better, and I suspect we are at the point where things are unlikely to improve to any extent. They have now been open for a year, and to be honest we should be seeing some improvement - we're not. From conversations I had with employees, they certainly see food as the main source of income and the beer "brewed" on site is most definitely not...

Ellie’s Brown Ale

Nice deep red/brown body, a fluffy rather than a dense head, and some non-sticky lacing. Malty nuttiness in the aroma. The taste is *absolutely* dependent on the temperature of this beer. When it is cold everything is very, very muted, but when the temperature rises after about thirty minutes of room temperature standing, this beer blossoms into its full glory! Full sweet, nut flavors bathe the tongue, and there is a real sense of fulfillment from the drink. Delicious bitter finish on top of...

Maple Nut Brown Ale

Very, very attractive pour with a really deep mahogany color, nice substantial head and significant lacing. Aroma is a nutty sweetness as expected. Balanced brew with a nice sweetness that does not overpower the brew. Still finishes with a little smokiness and a tiny bitterness. Malt lovers will be delighted with this. Very drinkable and a nice everyday drinker. I'd certainly go for this again, and the Tommyknocker Imperial Brown Ale "older bother" is also a very nice beer. Nice, sweet example...

Imperial Nut Brown Ale

Pretty darn nice. I like the bottle presentation too, with the gold foil and nice label. Excellent deep brown color, and lovely tan head that is really quite creamy. A small amount of lacing. The alcohol comes through strong, but there is a nice balance amongst the malt, hops and nuttiness. A roasted richness is present as well. I was a bit dubious of this being classified as a brown ale with the relatively high ABV, since to me one of the more characteristic traits of a great brown ale is...

Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Original notes 10/30/2005 (picture from 2022) Light brownish, garnet color, that when held up to the light takes on some serious red highlights and looks a lot thinner than I was imagining it would look. Some bubbly, cream colored head form an aggressive pour. The head is not sustained though and there is little or no lacing. Pretty good looking brown ale, especially strong in the body color appearance. Obviously from the name I was expecting some hazelnut in the aroma, but frankly I got very...

Christmas Ale

2003 edition (I think). BB 03/28/04. Beautiful red/brown dark color with a smashing looking head, lovely thick, tan color with some nice lacing. Rich, smooth fruit and marzipan aroma. Mouthfeel is good, but it doesn't quite live up to the smell which is much, much richer. To be fair it would be difficult for the taste to match the smell. Taste is perfect for the style. Lots of cascading fruits, with a drier than expected hop based finish. A really interesting beer, it has a dark Belgian fruity...

Newport Storm – Alyssa (Cyclone Series)

Well, this is one of those beers that is difficult to review for me because I think it is not really within the traditional parameters of the style, but I still quite enjoyed it. So, not worrying about it too much, I'm going to comment on the drink itself, rather than its stylistic attributes. Unattractive label, but attractive beer. Deep brown with a good head. Some slight smoke in the aroma. To me this thing drinks more like a fruity Belgian Strong Ale. There's a mess of fruity esters...

Brooklyn Brown Ale

Brooklyn makes several delicious beers, but this isn't one of them. Standard brown, caramel colored pour with a disappointing head and lace. A rather ordinary brown ale with nowhere near enough body for my liking. Quite dry and thin which may be a function of the American version. I like a darker, maltier, less dry version of the brown ale than this. Aroma is not especially noticeable, nor is much else about the beer. Mild vinegar acidity in the palate too. Brooklyn packaging leaves you in no...