Category Archives: Brown Ale

The Bruery ‘Autumn Maple’ Imperial Belgian Brown Ale

Rating:

33817386_862339783950168_5675952216859475968_n“Brewed with 15 lbs. of yams per barrel (in other words, a lot of yams!), this autumn seasonal is a different take on the “pumpkin” beer style. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, maple syrup, and fermentation with our traditional Belgian yeast strain, make this bold and spicy beer perfect for a cold autumn evening. We have also created bourbon barrel-aged, barrel-fermented, and darker variations of Autumn Maple.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Light brown to mahogany with a big and fizzy two and a half finger head emerging on top. Steady reduction with patchy lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: A seriously complex little number! It’s spicy, earthy, sweet, syrupy and yeasty with a warming booze behind it all. Tonnes of Belgian candi sugars with the nutmeg, clove and star anise dominating. Sweet potato, maple syrup, caramelised brown sugar, fresh cinnamon sticks and subtle vanilla just to make it all the more interesting.

Flavour: Quite heavy on the spice front. We’re getting a lot of nutmeg, clove and pink peppercorns that draws out all the way to the finish. Definitely getting some Belgian yeast/phenols coming through – pear, apple pie and banana runts along with earthy spiced pumpkin and molasses. It takes on a bit of cloying sweetness with a flutter of orange peel, spice and maple syrup on the close.

Mouthfeel: Chewy, viscous and sticky but still quite moderately bodied. Medium co2 with a discernible ABV (10%).

Overall: We hold this brewery in very high regard but the flavours are slightly muddled here…. yes it’s extremely complex but the balance just isn’t quite there. As it’s Autumn here in Australia we’ll drink to the season but probably won’t seek it out again.

Firestone Walker 2017 ‘Bravo’ BA Imperial Brown Ale

Rating:

33540538_861542030696610_5845851364923539456_n“We proudly present the 2017 Vintage of Bravo, our Imperial Brown Ale aged in retired American oak bourbon barrels. Although Bravo was the first strong ale brewed for our Anniversary Ale blending program over ten years ago, it has yet to see its own bottled release, until now. Balancing rich toasty and chocolate malt flavors with a gentle balance of noble hops, Bravo is brewed to showcase barrel flavors with massive bourbon barrel notes that morph as the beer warms in the glass.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Light mahogany with burgundy hues. It doesn’t produce much head, eventually settling to a halo with thin rings clinging to the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Biiiiig!! Lots of nutty uplift initially. Excellent follow up from those caramelly sweet and woody American bourbon oak barrels. It flows in to soft creamy vanilla, burnt brown sugar, cola syrup and an earthy spice like nutmeg or star anise. And who could possibly miss that stinging booze burn?! Phenomenal nose.

Flavour: It’s as big as Ben Hur but there’s so much nutty chocolate malt to offset it. Waves of sharp bourbon oak roll through with a touch of dark fruit (figs, dates, licorice etc) late in the mid. A bit of alcohol warmth early in the finish with lingering notes of bourbon, charred oak and serious dryness in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and somewhat creamy yet sharp and a touch leaner than we would have liked. 13.2% ABV and 28 IBU.

Overall: Outstanding offering. It’s huge, boozy and malty so this baby will age gracefully. Yes OK it’s probably obvious but let her come up to just below room temperature before cracking this bad boy. Let it open right up. Brilliant drop.

Akasha Brewing Co ‘Water Buffalo’ American Brown Ale

Rating:

30515832_840031406181006_6318594614148202496_n“The Water Buffalo is an American style brown ale displaying a dark brown hue and off-white head. The deep caramel, toast and chocolate flavours are balanced perfectly by the fresh citrus and pine character from the classic American hops.”

Glassware: American pint.

Appearance: Chestnut colour with a thumb of loosely packed tan foam sealing it off. It peels back to a halo which posts a set of rings as it ebbs.

Aroma: Lots of black IPA qualities on the nose. It’s marketed as an American brown ale and with Akasha’s love of everything USA we aren’t surprised. Roasted malt, coffee, earthy and bitter chocolate meets subtle pine, citrus and grassy/herbaceous hops. It’s a match made in heaven.

Flavour: Absolutely delicious. Subtle hop characters initially but they’re instantly enveloped by a dark roasty malt which offers coffee, bitter chocolate and treacle. But just as we say that a mild citric bitterness cuts through with a hint of orange peel but again it’s seized by those dark roasted malts that finish dry and toasty with subtle hop bitterness in the tail.

Mouthfeel: It holds a nice weight but the lifted co2 gives it a lighter feel than it probably deserves. Well hidden 6.6% ABV and a tempered 60 IBU.

Overall: Brown ale eh?! That is a black IPA through and through! That is all. Other than that it’s a bloody solid drop.

 

Behemoth/Chur ‘Brave Bikkie’ Brown Ale

Rating:

19601414_837041463146667_9213005477786396898_n“Coconut, cocoa nib brown ale. This beer was originally brewed for Beervana’s festive beer 2014. We picked up a gold medal and best in class trophy for it. It has been described as a macaroon, a liquid lamington, a bounty bar in a beer. It is a desert beer without being too sweet. It was a crowd favorite and one of the biggest selling beers at Beervana again in 2015. This beer is not the easiest to make so we will likely only make it once a year (if that). So if you see one snap it up.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Deep mahogany which reveals a dark red hue when held to the light. It builds a huge three finger head that reduced and leaves a healthy lace clinging to the glass.

Aroma: Big and roasty with loads of chocolate, cacao, nutty malts and a hint of truffle. Absolutely loving the creamy coconut and vanilla bean, not only is it uber aromatic it also balances out those dark malty notes. Getting a slight suggestion of coffee in here too. Magnificent.

Flavour: We’d say it’s somewhere between a bounty bar and a lamington. It even has that light and fluffy sponge cake taste and texture. It may only only be a one trick pony but the chocolate, coconut and subtle roasty notes are thoroughly fulfilling. Excellent length on the back palate as well.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and aerated, light on and a little thin. Somewhat confusing though as it does hold up well. 6% ABV is nicely disguised.

Overall: A bloody decent drop. Not dense and rich enough to pass for a dessert beer but it’s still quite indulgent. Another impressive beer from this impressive Kiwi brewery.

James E Pepper ‘1776’ 2015 BA American Brown Ale

Rating:

29216442_828605243990289_5233765718620635136_n“James E. Pepper brewed an American Brown Ale and aged it in oak barrels. The Ale was aged in the same oak barrels in which James E. Pepper recently aged their 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey. The Ale is a deep, dark brown ale, that, when served, could be mistaken for a stout. The taste is sweet with coffee, vanilla and oak notes shining through. The rye comes through a bit on the finish.”

Glassware: American Pint.

Appearance: Dark brown hue with a lot of thick suspended sediment floating around. It builds a big two and a half finger head which collapsed to a collar. Laced well despite the diminishing head.

Aroma: We unreservedly love the whisky so to get strong wafts of the spicy and at times even sweet and buttery nose is so fulfilling. Behind the gorgeous whisky notes is a seriously smooth, malty and nutty affair, supported by hints of vanilla, toffee, chocolate and subtle licorice. Just a touch of oak in here too. Superb.

Flavour: Delish! Essentially what they’ve done is wrap subtle notes of the whisky up inside a malty coating of a brown ale. Sweet nutty malts on the front end with the spicy, buttery and caramel notes of the whisky through the middle. It finishes with warming booze, toffee, vanilla and woody oak tannins on the rear.

Mouthfeel: A bit of warmth from the 10% ABV. Thick and almost silky texture. Lively co2 which is quite the surprise considering the profile of the beer.

Overall: After a year and a bit in the storage unit we thought this bad boy was ready for consumption. It brings three years of age in total now and it’s done wonders. We may have to go and get ourselves a couple more!

Feral Brewing ‘F 15’ BBA Imperial Brown Ale

Rating:

26196331_796753763842104_7976658623485187260_n“A dogfight 15 years in the making, this anniversary ale celebrates all the Mavericks who helped us throughout all our brewing adventures. Aged for six months in Heaven Hill Distillery bourbon barrels. This special brew also pays tribute to the weird and wonderful WIll Irving, as he’s knocked up more flight hours in the Swan Valley brewhouse than we’ve got knocked up geese. A champion in the brewery, he’s crafted one of the most diverse and respected ranges of beer anywhere on earth. Australia’s beer landscape today is an infinitely better place thanks to him. Cheers mate!”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Dark cola hue with a short yet extremely well retained head forming on top. We’re seeing a wavy lace dispensed as we imbibe.

Aroma: Ooph….complex! What initially came off as a subtle hint of sourness quickly takes shape as the result of aging in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. Hints of toffee and vanilla come through with a surge of wet oak barrel in support. Some nutty undertones here and there with a suggestion of metal creeping in. Subtle chocolate, prunes and molasses filling it out.

Flavour: We’ve given this bad boy about 30 mins to come up to room temperature….almost. Lots of bourbon flavour upfront – caramel, toffee, vanilla and rye spices. A bit of nutty malt, some dark fruit sweetness and a light roast gets another helping of spice as it finishes toasty, slightly dry and woody. Excellent length on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Steady and quite approachable. No harsh burn at all which is incredible considering the 9% ABV. Slick texture, moderate co2 and body.

Overall: What started with a bit of apprehension has finished with total satisfaction. Come to think of it, it is unbelievably smooth and so well balanced for its weight. Certainly improves as it warms too. Impressive drop.

Stockade Brew Co. Oak Aged Yankee Brown Ale

Rating:

21314827_744964782354336_5063208419194954954_n“This American Brown Ale was stored in various liquor barrels, sourced from Lark Distillery in Tassie. With a natural, toasty malt flavour, the barrels have imparted an ever-so-slight sour note which fully compliments the touches of bourbon and port which shine through.”

Served in an English pint. It hits the glass with a pecan hue and generates a fizzy finger of head. It reduced to a film which works a modest lace down the walls of the glass.
Holy moly. We were expecting complexity but not at the levels we’re being shown here. It has earthy, spicy, sweet, sour and woody all wrapped up in one. The olfactory’s are hit with a wave of truffle, carob, licorice, figs, earthy malts, sauna room, cherries and dark fruits with a syrupy port character opening up as it warms. Wow, the way it keeps improving is incredible. Very impressive aroma.
Quite a bit of sourness initially but it’s softened by the woody oak and eventually upstaged by the tart cherries and earthy fig through the middle. The longer it sits on the palate the stickier and sweeter it gets, showing not only brilliant progression but a complex dark fruit/port note that really goes the length on the back end.
It’s surprisingly highly carbonated and tart in the mouth. Moderately bodied with a somewhat frothy and aerated texture. The 8.9% ABV is discernible in patches but ultimately well concealed.
Definitely not what we were expecting that’s for sure. The initial sourness hands it this kind of Flemish oud bruin character and reminds us of 8 Wired’s Grand Cru at times. That is a damn fine beer. We’re stoked that we have another three in storage, can’t wait to see how they improve in the coming years.

Australian Brewery & Bucket Boys Breakfast Brown Ale

Rating:

20622051_730978747086273_3095706853348410373_n“Made with real honey alongside Golden Naked Oats and Lactose for body and sweetness. A tasty breakfast treat.”

Served in an English pint. It offers a deep cola hue with a big and fluffy three finger head. Retention is good, allowing a thick and wavy lace to stick to the glass as we imbibe.
There is a lovely contrast on the nose – really sweet and creamy with this lightly roasted chocolate malt filling it out. Seeing some nutty characters coming through along with the sweet milk sugars over the top. The only detraction is the subtle hint of metal but everything else is spot on.
It holds a nice weight in the mouth. One thing we hate is a thin and watery brown ale but this one is nice and creamy with medium body, mild co2 and a well hidden 6% ABV.
All of the flavours come on really nicely. The lactose sweetness, the milk sugars and the honey (which certainly isn’t as inhibited as it was on the nose). Tasting those dry and grainy oats through the middle as it delivers a toasty and slightly nutty finish with good duration on the back palate.
That’s a mighty fine brown ale right there. This isn’t our first crack at Australian Brewery’s range but it is our first introduction to Bucket Boys beer. Cheers to Jonathon and the rest of the crew. And yes we agree wholeheartedly….this IS how you make porridge.

Deep Creek Brewing Co ‘Dusty Gringo’ India Brown Ale

Rating:

image“Dusty Gringo India Brown Ale represents the rugged edge of the Wild West cowboy. A swig of this tasty brew charges your senses with the aromas of a mountain range of malt, and a hop kick reminiscent of that trusty steed’s hoof. The floral and citrus flavours imparted from the Cascade, Amarillo and Centennial hops, ride on a powerful chocolate malt base. A strong companion to explore the badlands.”

Served in an IPA glass. Dusty gringo presents an attractive mahogany hue with cherry red highlights. It forms a finger of tan foam that gradually peels off and settles to a fine overlay. Hieroglyphic style lace clings to the glass as we imbibe.
Getting a somewhat muted aroma until we got our noses right in the glass. A hefty chocolate malt base is uncovered offering earthy characters, hints of coffee and burned toast. The hops balance it out nicely with its citric and slightly piney undertones. A bit of a spicy element to it as well – white pepper mainly and just a pinch of aniseed and nutmeg in there. Not bad, a touch of complexity to it.
Nice weight in the mouth. It’s creamy with medium body but there’s a certain fullness that’s filling it out. Not overly bitter with the 6.8% ABV pretty well buried. It’s dangerously sessional.
The flavour is nice and direct with the subtle citrus and piney hops balancing out the roasty and earthy malts upfront. A subtle roasty cocoa flavour is carried through the mid, developing an espresso bitterness that leads to a dry, grassy hop finish.
One thing has to be said about this brewery and that is the impressive artwork on the can. In this day and age brewers fight for the buyers eye on the shelves and this one certainly caught ours. What’s going on inside the can is good but nothing breathtaking. Well balanced and surprisingly sessional but nothing to get super excited over.

Rogue ‘Hazelutely Choctabulous’ Brown ale

Rating:

imageRogue have taken their chocolate stout and hazelnut brown nectar and combined the two to create Hazelutely Choctabulous – dark and decadent with a rich nutty flavour up front followed by a chocolate truffle finish.

Poured into a pint glass we see a dark brown/black colour with a massive tan head that doesn’t budge initially and reminds us of a chocolate brownie. It then very slowly compresses down onto itself. When the head eventually passes it leaves thick lacing on the glass. Aromas are delicious. Fresh hazelnuts, mild chocolate, sweet malt, light caramel, and roast. First sip is more nutty and roasted on the palate. We get hazelnut but it’s not as aromatic. We  get the chocolate sweetness. More a milk chocolate hit. We get more roasted malts, ash, and a earthy or woody complexity. We like the idea of truffles. Body is moderate and we see the Alc vol of 5.7% which sits silently behind the roasted malt and nuttiness. We are amazed at the IBU rating of 75?! We have had IPAs which are more bitter than this at 75. It’s a testament to the brewing. It all just glides down very smoothly with a nice nutty, ashy, chocolately body. Good length on the palate. Patchy lacing on the glass now that we near the bottom. We like the dominance of the hazelnut rather than the overbearing sweetness of drinking a litre of chocolate. It’s not top shelf but it’s nice and quaffable and we would have again.

4 Pines Cherry Coconut Brown ale

Rating:

imageThis brew is an addition to the Keller Door small batch. It uses roasted coconut, and macerated cherries.

Poured into a pint glass we see a dark mahogany with red hues. There is a off white/tan head that dissipates instantaneously, leaving just small bubbles around the rim of the glass. Definite nose of cherries with the added aroma of sweet malts, an a buttery/almost chocolate hit with roasted coconut in background. Reminds us of an iced Vovo biscuit with that jammy aroma. First sip is not as good as the aroma. There is tartness from the cherry like a sour, with very mild bitterness as stated on the bottle (IBU rating 17). Mild carbonation on the tongue. Mild to moderate body at best as it’s quite watery on the palate. Doesn’t hold well in the mouth. The flavours just dry up really and there is just a mild sourness with some nuttiness from the coconut and roasted malts. Sitting at 5.5% Alc vol it’s mild drinking for sure and does glide down the gullet smoothly. We would like more creaminess from the coconut in the body, and we lose the chocolate aroma that we somehow got in the aroma initially. Basically it does what it says and points for that but we would think a bit more depth to the body and this would be tastier.

 

Balter Brewing Company ‘Alt Brown’ Ale

Rating:

17522774_666680133516135_4529259305887965279_n“More classic blues than death metal, this Brown Ale is for those who love a bit of extra character without getting dark and bitter. A smooth melody of malt plays counterpoint to clean and subtle hop notes. It’s nutty, roasty and toasty. Perfect with tunes in the background and friends at the table.”

Served in an English pint. It hits the glass with a chestnut hue that’s covered by a compacted head that recedes to a thin wispy film. Some patches of lace seen but it’s pretty scarce.
Pretty stock standard aroma – roasty chocolate malts, toast, almonds and macadamia nut. Some sweeter notes in here too, a bit fruity in its delivery; cherry and blackberry are offering a delicate balance. Getting a fleeting suggestion of metal which is a little unsavoury but mild enough to disregard. Not bad.
In the mouth it’s a little too thin. Co2 is low and the body sits around that mild-medium mark. Simply not enough bottom end for a dark beer.
Nice and malty upfront. We’re getting the lightly toasted malts with hints of cocoa and sweet cherry that progress forward in to a somewhat weak and watery middle. It’s continued with a soft fruity note that leads in to a light nutty finish. Just a fleeting hint of dryness and sweet caramelized malt on the rear.
We get that the weather up on the Goldy is warm for three quarters of the year and a dark beer option is a must have, but this offering just seems to lack character and the fullness one comes to expect from a brown ale. The flavours are there and they are well balanced but it’s missing that defining factor that would see us return to it. Needs some tweaking.

Alesmith Brewing Co. Nut Brown Ale

Rating:

16999020_652106731640142_2975233282458849230_n“AleSmith Nut Brown is a tribute to one of our favorite British styles. Deep mahogany in color, its rich, malt-forward flavor profile balances notes of biscuit, mild cocoa and earthy hops. A creamy mouthfeel and full body enhances its drinkability, making Nut Brown an extremely sessionable ale that embodies our commitment to quality.”

Served in an English pint. She pours a pecan brown with a finger of lightly tanned foam mounting on top. Gradual reduction, eventually settling to a fine film with scattered patches of lace sticking to the glass as we indulge.
Very traditional style on the nose. Quite rare from this quality American brewery as they would usually put a new world spin on it but this one stays true with a lovely earthy character that takes on the nutty malts, light toast, subtle coffee, tobacco and buttery toffee really well. They’ve nailed it.
The texture is light and effortless while the sprightly Co2 gives it an unsuspecting lift. A low IBU of 17 on top of a mild-medium body makes for a pleasant drinking experience. Very nice.
There’s a pretty smooth transition in to flavour here. A lovely assortment of nuts like almond, hazelnut and walnut take on a soft and subtle roast the carries across the mid. Traces of grain husks, caramel, earthy hops and mild bitterness wraps it up with a moderate length in the tail.
It must be tough for some American brewers to offer these kind of beers. What with products like the big 4 ‘C’ hops and many others who would want to brew traditional earthy, European inspired ales? Well these guys have…and they’ve done it brilliantly with its Newcastle brown ale-esque character. Solid beer with all bases covered. Another cracker from Alesmith here.

Bacchus Brewing Co. ‘Sex, Drugs & Rocky Road’

Rating:

14991953_597417253775757_6047948647124716665_n“Sex Drugs & Rocky Road – Amber Ale – 500ml (Alc 8.2%). Daryll Lea Rocky Road dessert in a glass. flavours of Peanuts, Chocolate, Marshmallow, Turkish Delight, Cherries & Hazelnuts. Gold Medal Winner AIBA 2014 & Runner-up peoples favourite of GABS 2014.”

Served in an English pint. The deep chestnut pour aroused a head that swells to about two fingers in height before it retracts to a thin sheet with spots of lace left in its wake. We definitely have an unhealthy obsession with Bacchus at the moment. But hey, who can blame us when they’re brewing beers that taste like chocolate bars and dessert!? This time around they’ve turned rocky road in to a beer and all we needed was one whiff to know they have hit the nail on the head. Wafts of Turkish delight, marshmallow, nuts, glazed cherries, vanilla and coconut are all encased in a milky chocolate malt coating. So indulgent! The feel of the beer in the mouth is light and gassy – far more carbonated than we were expecting. It works well though. The 8.2% ABV is extremely well hidden and the body sits around the medium mark. As it hits the lips we get a subtle salinity followed by a sweet salted caramel note. Then comes the wave of rocky road flavours – marshmallow, Turkish delight, nuts and chocolate. A gentle bitterness perks up around the mid and leads in to the smooth, decadent and super indulgent finish. On top of the delicious flavours, smooth texture and dangerously addictive aroma it actually improves as it comes up to room temperature. The Co2 settles and it becomes fuller in body. Geez if these guys aren’t careful our infatuation could quickly reach stalker level! Excellent offering keep it coming lads.

Stone Brewing Spotlight Series Imperial Mutt Brown Ale

Rating:

14705877_582677311916418_2447246710249360611_n“Stone brewers Drew Neldon and Steve Via won this year’s annual in-house Stone Spotlight Series brewing competition with this hefty brown ale—an impressive result considering that one of them had never encountered a brown ale he liked before tasting this one. Given layers of flavor from Vienna, Victory and Chocolate Wheat malts, and warming, refined sweetness from Honey Malt and turbinado sugar, it’s a rich and soothing beer brewed with respect to traditional English methods and New World innovation. The British-American bulldog of the craft beer world? Perhaps. Best in Show? Absolutely.”

Served in an English pint. This bad boy pours to a dark brown complexion with a fluffy two finger head forming on top. The thick tan head maintains most of its height, only peeling off a smidge as it discards a healthy set of rings down the walls of the glass. In true Stone fashion they’ve hopped the bejesus out of it. To their credit, as usual, they’ve done it impeccably. No sooner do the rich chocolate malts come through do the bitter and earthy hops to balance it out. Again, just as that roasty, nutty note advances this very delicate fruity hop character pulls it back. In support are toasty malts, dark fruits, vanilla and a somewhat burned toffee note to fill it out. Impressive. The beer holds a good weight in the mouth. Full bodied and creamy in texture but remarkably effortless in the swallow. The 9% ABV is masked really well, Co2 is mild and the 45 IBU provides a cheeky dryness in the tail. Plenty of malt forward chocolate, cocoa and roast on the front palate. A mild bitterness takes shape as fruity hops and bready malts battle it out across the mid. For a moment the malts take the lead just before an assertive bitterness rounds out and provides an incredible balance between the roasted malt and grassy hops on the rear palate. In summary we’d have to agree with the brewers. She’s a total mutt – a complete cross between hops and malts but damn they’ve done it well. If it were a dog it would probably be called a bullstaff. Half British bulldog and half American staffy. Solid and robust yet soft and sweet.

Founder’s Brewing Co. ‘Sumatra Mountain’ Imperial Coffee Brown Ale

Rating:

14595749_576705942513555_3485613438384894515_n“This bold, imperial brown ale gets its body from a team of malts including Caramel malt for sweetness, flaked barley for dense foam, a bit of Chocolate malt for its deep color and Aromatic and Munich malts to add even more depth. German and Perle hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. The addition of rich Sumatra coffee takes this perfectly balanced imperial brown ale to a decadent level.”

Served in an English pint. She presents a mahogany complexion with a thumb of cappuccino head forming on top. As it recedes a wavy lace pattern is left clinging to the glass. There’s just something about Founders that excites us and once the olfactory’s get a whiff of this bad boy we know exactly why. Very subtle hints of the KBS creep in here as a decadent blend of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, nutty malts, vanilla, tobacco, toffee and delicate spice combine to create this moreish and seriously captivating aroma. In the mouth it’s medium-full and creamy with a super smooth transition in to the finish. The 9% ABV is incredibly well hidden as a gentle bitterness develops in the swallow. The flavour profile on this drop is simply immense. Upfront we get bold coffee notes that are emphasized by roasted malts and chocolate. Also contributing to the deliciousness are hints of vanilla, burnt toffee and Asian spices that flow across the mid. A mild bitterness is picked up here as a subtle alcohol warmth ushers in a roasted finish with lingering coffee notes on the back palate. This is one of those beers where we savour every last drop. Superb! She’s so smooth yet packed full of roast, spice and bitter espresso. A layered nose, full in body and finished off with a well drawn out back end. Damn that’s a good drop. Kudos Founders.

Clown Shoes ‘The Barista’ Breakfast Brown Ale

Rating:

13614946_545153509002132_453531683990216086_n“A Clown Shoes legend, Brown Angel put away her dancing shoes to focus on extracting espresso, brewing coffee and pouring latte art with zen-like focus. The Barista Breakfast Brown is crafted with Maris Otter malt, flaked oatmeal, cold brewed espresso, milk sugar and the spirit of angel wings.”

Served in an English pint glass. The mahogany body is capped off by a fluffy two finger head which holds up nicely. It gradually reduces to a thick overlay that leaves a trail of dense, sudsy lace clinging to the glass. Very aromatic on the nose. We get roasted nuts, toast, oats, espresso, cocoa and vanilla pods leading out. Like if that’s not enough already there’s a plethora of undertones like dark chocolate, dough, almonds and hints of aniseed/licorice in support. Well, if the brewers are comparing this to the Brown Angel they’re already miles ahead in our view. The mouth feel is effortless and slightly creamy with medium body and mild-medium Co2. One aspect that must be pointed out is the unbelievably well hidden ABV (9%). If we didn’t know any better we’d have guessed it to be around the 6-7% mark. Superb. The use of oats in this brew play a central role in the make up of the front palate. A sugary lactose sweetness cuts through the slightly bitter espresso and dark chocolate notes across the mid and reunites with creamy flavours of vanilla and soy. It finishes with a delicious roast that sweeps back around to punctuate with notes of coffee, licorice and bready malts. Wow, this is a tasty Brown Ale. The additions of espresso, oats and milk sugar really make all the difference here. A solid Maris Otter malt base gives it a nice, full mouth feel while the additional flavours add the unique character to it. Very palatable ale here.

Big Shed Brewing ‘Frankenbrown’ American Brown Ale

Rating:

13062060_509912169192933_2489661979868849852_n“Our hoppy dark monster won’t raze a village but it will drop some badass funk on your taste buds. The high percentage of specialty grain brings the soul of malt, biscuit and coffee notes. The bitterness and aroma comes from the hit of hops added throughout the boil as well as dry-hopping. All this is backed upwith a higher than normal alcohol making for a beer that is right on. Can you dig it?”

Served in an English pint. Quite an elegant looker – a deep mahogany centre working to a chestnut edge. On top an egg shaped head inches up to about two fingers then retracts and settles to a thick, fluffy overlay with a tonne of lace left in its wake. A lovely equilibrium is happening on the nose. We’re getting those gorgeous dark malts, cocoa, nuts, tobacco and mild roast working harmoniously with the piney and slightly vinous hop accents. It actually comes off a bit like a black IPA at times – nicely roasted but possessing a prominent hop aroma. We like it. In the mouth it’s spritzy and slightly dry with a thin-ish texture. It’s quite light on with moderate body and a super easy swallow. ABV sits at 5.3% so it’s not at all aggressive. Very approachable. The flavour profile is a case of the old switcheroo. We’re getting a more hop-forward front palate with the likes of pine needle, vines and dried tea leaf being emphasized by a mild bitterness. Hints of roasted malt, cocoa and nuts annex to the subsiding hops and lead in to a toasty finish with a palatable back end of toffee and mild roast. Some good legs being shown too. All in all it wasn’t a bad beer. Although there’s nothing overly memorable about it either. Good balance, a good hop bill and a robust mat base but there still seems to be something missing. There’s no knock out blow for us. A decent drop but we’ve had better brown ales.

Mad River brewing co ‘Humboldt Brownie’ Double brown Ale

Rating:

imageThis Californian brewery has a thing about no story on their labels, so we don’t know much about this drop, other than its a double brown ale (9% alcohol vol.) brewed with cocoa nibs, and that this beer is part of an artisan serious (2 of 6). It’s obviously trying to replicate a chocolate brownie, which sounds delightful.

Poured into a pint for maximum joy, we get a cola colour with no head at all in this glass. We see mild carbonation bubbling up to the surface, which looks oily. No lacing either due to his oiliness. Definite aromas of chocolate, molasses, nice roasted malts and dark ripe fruits. First sip is very pleasing. Gentle alcohol heat which does not overpower combines with a smooth milk chocolate, and spice on the lips, alongside a surprising mild citrus hop hit. It’s unbelievably smooth and balanced for 9%! The alcohol balance here really brings out the cocoa, and you certainly can imagine having a chocolate brownie. The hop bitterness sits very gently on the tongue, again with mild citrus flavour. This must be the cascade and willamette hops used after researching this beer on their website. Toffee and nutty flavours from the malts combine perfectly on the palate, and adding the cocoa nibs gives it a mild sweetness but not sickly. It’s almost drying but again it’s so smooth and balanced that no faults can really be found. The surprisingly medium sized body enables you to smash it down comfortably without feeling pissed. This is a damn fine beer. This almost equals the breweries’ steelhead double IPA in terms of enjoyment, and balance. Brilliant double brown ale here.

 

 

Hop dog beerworks ‘Taxidermied pachyderm’ India rye brown ale

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image“After our mind bending GABS entry for 2014, we decided to one up ourselves for 2015. This patchwork craziness is a box ticker of immense proportions. Not only is the Taxidermied Pachyderm pentagonally hopped, it’s also barrel aged, brewed with 40% rye malt, and bursting out with lashings of caramel, chocolate and hop bitterness. It’s sewn together in the most extreme of ways, stitched up from a modest list of all the things that we love – your Gran’s Singer couldn’t have done a better job.”

The fact that the GABS festival now comes to Sydney is enough to make any New South Welsh craft beer fan drop their Spiegelau’s. But when the brewers of some of the better beers of the day start bottling those brews….it’s pure heaven.

Served in an English pint. Pouring an almost flat-looking cola appearance with next to no head whatsoever. Even an aggressive swirl of the glass struggles to activate any foam. It seems it’s always either over carbonated or under carbonated with Hopdog beers. (Except for the horns up rye IPA, which is a brilliant beer) The aroma of this beast is something that has to be experienced. Wafts of lemon juice, citrus rind, solvent, metal, white vinegar and to add a touch of normality….a hint of yellow grapefruit. Very acidic. It’s actually quite hard to put this aroma into one word but if we had to it would be this……bizarre! In the mouth it’s dry with a slightly metallic texture. The Co2 level is mild and bitterness is firm. Quite a sharp acidity on the palate too, really tickling the edges of the tongue. The flavour profile isn’t as perplexing as the aroma as a robust sourness invades the taste buds initially. Some mild dark chocolatey malts do appear in the background but they are quickly drowned out as a sharp, citric astringency develops through the mid. The sourness continues in to the finish with an assertive dryness that’s drawn out long on to the back end. Extremely unique beer here and certainly not for the conservative beer drinker. We honestly thought this was much better on tap at the GABS festival. The bottled version doesn’t do it any favours.