Category Archives: Brown Ale

Port Phillip Brewing Brown Ale


“Smooth, velvety malt flavours round off this well balanced but distinctly hoppy American style brown ale. With rich flavours abounding this beer is a fitting tribute to a classic style.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Somewhat burnished copper pour with a faint reddish tint when held to the light. It produces a whopping four finger head which breaks down rather quickly. Tonnes of blotchy lace sticks to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Clearly an American style Brown Ale. We love that first realisation when the brain incorrectly thinks ‘Black IPA!’. Really nice hop to malt ratio, just as it seems the piney and resinous hops are having ascendancy over the malts the light roast, coffee and burnt caramel notes even the ledger. Lovely hints of roasted nuts, burnt toast and cola as well.

Flavour: Packs quite a punch for a humble old core range Brown Ale. There’s a feisty hop bitterness that teams up with the delicate roast and coffee. A short cameo of caramel and cola-like sweetness through the mid leading into a very dry and bitter finish with a well drawn out roasted quality on the rear.

Mouthfeel: A little lean and slippery. There’s a good carb to it but it doesn’t mitigate the lack of body. 5% ABV is on par for a traditional Brown.

Overall: Started strong but it slowly went backwards. It’s not a bad drop at all it just didn’t really wow us.

Fury & Son Brown Ale


“Designed to be enjoyed all year round, this American style Brown Ale is both full flavoured and perfectly balanced. Its dark amber in colour, has hints of caramel and chocolate and is wrapped up with a slight citrus accent and a pleasant bitterness.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Quite light for a Brown Ale – light chestnut with deep amber hues. It forms a massive three to four finger head which takes an age to recede. Thick blotchy lace sticks to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: It displays a rather noticeable hoppy character. Our first thoughts were that it could pass for a mellow Black IPA…which is saying something considering it’s just a humble old 5.3% Brown Ale. The malt base presents a bold roasty-ness, coffee, chocolate and ash while the hops, through a massive counter, offer citrus, pine and soft herbals. Hello! Where did this come from?

Flavour: It kinda takes a step back on the intensity here. Then again, we remind ourselves that it’s the same humble old Brown Ale. The hops, again, do a sterling job of balancing out the toasty, caramel-driven malts. A healthy tussle between the two plays out before it finishes on a dry, roasty but fruity finish which draws out incredibly well.

Mouthfeel: Excellent weight and body for the style. It’s light on but has a good chewy-ness to it. Slick texture, mild Co2. The 5.3% ABV is bang on.

Overall: After trying their Impy Stout a while back we said we left the door open to get a better feel for them. Glad we did! This was a fine American style Brown Ale. Impressive stuff and sharply priced.

Bottle Logic ‘Feedback Loop’ Brown Ale


“We’ve heard your cries and now finally present: Feedback Loop. A beautiful, clear brown ale with tones of toast and toffee; light-b “We’ve spent the last seven years building monster stouts, whipping up fruited smoothie mayhem, iterating on hazy IPAs, and perfecting the crispiest of bois with nary a brown ale in sight.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep chestnut brown with a short tan head which collapses and settles at the rim. A thin wavy lace follows it down.

Aroma: Without a doubt an American-style Brown Ale. At its core it displays all of that classic Brown Ale toastiness, nutty malts, cocoa powder, toffee etc but it’s what the hops bring which sets it apart. Quite discernible notes of pine, mixed citrus and musky florals give it a unique, almost India Brown Ale-esque character. We’re also picking up a flutter of cola gummies as well. We’re a little uncertain of this still though.

Flavour: First thoughts are quite pedestrian and timid for the likes of Bottle Logic. There’s no real knockout flavour, it’s just a meandering mix of lightly toasted malts, cocoa powder, roasted nuts, pine resin and a strange black tea-like note (which is stirring up bad memories of a certain tea flavoured Brown Ale we reviewed recently). A faint hint of licorice and a slightly dry roasty finish to punctuate.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly thin and a tad watery. Flat-ish Co2. The 6% ABV is well buried.

Overall: A very rare strike out from BL here. It’s like they went for a hop-forward expression then pulled out at the last minute…leaving it somewhat bland and exposed. Pretty average TBH.

Tumut River Brewing ‘Tea Innit’ English Brown Ale


“A brown ale with tea in it.. We love the occasional cuppa so we decided to combine some fine English tea with the finest artisanal dark malts from our good mates at Voyager Craft Malt and tin it. The result is a smooth and very drinkable brown ale that showcases the stunning flavours of the malted barley with a subtle hint of tea for the perfect arv refreshment . Smashing innit!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Light mahogany with a deep ruby red tint when held to the light. It forms a finely beaded two finger head which slowly peels off. Lace rings mark each sip on the glass on its way down.

Aroma: We must give credit to TRBC, they’re always pushing the boundaries when it comes to edgy beers. Sometimes they pull it off and sometimes they fail miserably. We’re not going to call this too early but this may potentially fall into the ‘failed miserably’ category. Classic Brown Ale nuttiness though, delicate milk chocolate and toast on one hand and then the spicy, grassy and earthy tea on the other. Interesting.

Flavour: Oh wow okay. The characters that were already sorta clashing on the nose are now in all out warfare. We absolutely love Brown Ale and we both don’t mind a cuppa every now and then but you’d have to be a true die-hard Englishman to dig this. There’s simply no cohesion between the mildly roasted malts, nuts and spicy tea and unfortunately it maintains this position through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly rigid and a bit chewy. Mild-moderate body, low-ish Co2. The 5.3% ABV is neither here nor there.

Overall: Well…not much more can be said at this point. It’s a sink pour. Which we hate to do coz we do actually like what TRBC put out (most of the time). This though….this was an exception.

Burnley Nitro Coffee Brown Ale


“Smooth, Nitro Coffee Brown Ale. Brewed using a fresh cold brew. The blend is comprised of naturally processed coffees from Ethiopia and Brazil, one fruit-driven and the other creamy AF. To serve… Cool can, shake well, vertical pour!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Very cool. We love the novelty of a good nitro beer (especially when they work properly – as this one did). As the creamy foam transforms into liquid it displays an attractive chestnut brown and a solid three finger head which looks to be settled in for the long haul.

Aroma: Semi rich and nutty malts hit the olfactory’s first. Toast, sweet caramels and toffee follow close behind. Only now does the coffee begin to come through. We expected it to be much stronger but the fact it’s so well integrated is a positive. Maple and a splash of dark fruits are buried a little deeper but are certainly there to be found. Liking it.

Flavour: On point for a nitro Brown Ale. Subtle coffee, nutty malts, caramel and toffee on the front palate and the subtle earthy hops, toast and fig then developing through the mid. The coffee is throwing out a few chocolatey and roasty notes as well as it sets up for a smooth, roasty and nutty finish which draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Ultra slick, kinda gelatinous and oily texture with medium body. The nitro adds to the overall creaminess and the 5.5% ABV is nicely positioned.

Overall: Big fans of this brewery. They consistently pump out top quality beers which fit their M.O perfectly. Quality nitro beers are just another feather in the hat.

Cigar City ‘The Darkwoods’ Imperial Brown Ale


Rich aromas of molasses, bread crust and toffee are complimented by more subtle notes of vanilla and coconut. A formidable maltiness hints at bitter chocolate and and black licorice while woodiness and tannins contributed by two different types of wood bring this silky-smooth Brown Ale into balance.” 

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Muddy light brown to Auburn hue with a short tan head which slowly peels off. Laced reasonably well considering the lack of retention.

Aroma: Interesting. We’ve been sat here for about 5 minutes trying to work out what it is that has us so intrigued. After reading the very entertaining description on the bottle we realised what it is…pine/pine cones, woody/forest floor and decaying leaves. Behind all of that are the more traditional Brown Ale characters of lightly roasted malts, chocolate, toast, licorice, nutty malts and cola. The only part missing (unfortunately) is the maple wood.

Flavour: Same deal as the aroma: the front palate has us intrigued but this time around we’re not really digging it. The combination of earthy pine cones and forest floor with the lightly charred and toasty malts should work but they’re clashing. Funnily enough though, it all clears midway and robust dark chocolate, licorice, coffee and a complex woody dryness surges into a nice long roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Pretty chewy, medium-full body, low-moderate carbonation. The 7.5% ABV is nicely positioned.

Overall: Can’t say we’re too pleased with it. We respect the quirky and experimental side to it but alas, it just didn’t come together they we wanted it to. Disappointing.

Barrier Brewing ‘Earth’ American Brown Ale

“One of the original Barrier beers and one that we are most proud of. This is exemplary of its style. Offering a slightly nutty malt taste with presence of toffee and dark caramel followed by a lightly roasted finish. The brown ale for all seasons!”

Glassware: American Pint.

Appearance: Pours an attractive mahogany complexion with a loosely held two finger head. Reduction is swift and the lacing is fairly minimal.

Aroma: Smells very tired and muted. And voila, we’ve been sold another can that’s very long in the tooth (3/3/21). It’s very frustrating coz it smells like it was once a bloody good aroma.

Flavour: Pretty much the same issue as the nose…the remnants of what was very likely a tasty American Brown Ale are all that’s left behind; savoury nutty malts, toast, caramel, cocoa and the ghost of some piney and citrusy hops which left the beer some time ago. Nice nutty finish with a hint of roast and hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Well weighted, slightly gelatinous texture. Mild-medium body. The 6.5% ABV is really well concealed.

Overall: We’re not going to rate the beer as it would be extremely unfair to the brewery. We do find that whenever rare American beers hit our shores they’re already close to past best before. Whether it’s down to interrupted supply lines from covid or not we can’t be sure. Very frustrating.

Boatrocker ‘Big Shot’ Imperial Coffee Brown Ale


“We’ve taken our classic brown ale, increased the recipe to make it Imperial, and then added enough Columbian Heavy Roast coffee to really make it count! Big coffee, balanced by a delicate toasty malt base. Delicious!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Very attractive chestnut pour. Hardly any gradient either it’s wall to wall. Only a short tan head which holds surprisingly well. A brilliant cascading lace is strewn down the glass.

Aroma: As anticipated the coffee is nice and direct, super nutty and toasty but with a distinct fruitiness to it. It’s also quite spicy with a very faint hint of cocoa. The base Brown Ale is pretty good too… accentuating the nutty qualities and filling it out with chocolate, toffee, coconut/vanilla, marzipan and soft metals.

Flavour: The coffee dominates here too…as anticipated. But again it’s well tempered as it provides nutty, toasty, chocolate and more delicate fruits and allows the classic Brown Ale flavours of chocolate, vanilla, toffee/caramel and tobacco to mould in. Can’t help thinking a tiramisu-like accent knocks about until it finishes with a roasty/toasty, nutty and chocolatey finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and creamy. Well balanced. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.5% ABV though…wow…very well behaved.

Overall: It always irritates us when we buy these amped up versions without first trying the base beer – in this case their standard ‘Coffee Brown’. That aside we really enjoyed this version. It’s big on coffee but well tempered and nicely executed. Solid offering.

Moorebeer Hoppy Brown Ale



Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Chestnut-looking pour with a deep ruby red hue. It manages a finger of lightly tanned foam which slowly dispersed. Brilliant lacing in its wake.

Aroma: Smells good. We always like Hoppy Brown’s/IBA’s to be like scaled back Black IPA’s and this is exactly that. A cosy and warming base of toasty and nutty malts, cocoa powder and caramel but spiked with a dose of high alpha acid hops which provide these hallmark pine, citrus and herbal notes that slice through the malts beautifully. And the end result? A Black IPA’s baby brother!

Flavour: Hell yeah…there’s an unexpected aggression which we’re totally on board with straight away. We were anticipating the sweet and nutty malts to dominate but instead it’s really hop-forward and the toasty/roasty malts are in the back seat. It even hits a rather pithy quality midway where it crescendos and then tapers off in to a super dry and bitter finish with soft nutty undertones.

Mouthfeel: Nice weight to it. A little abrasive but it’s well mannered. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. 5.4% ABV adds a touch of warmth.

Overall: we actually can’t believe this is our first entry for Moorebeer. Their Choc Vanilla Porter is a go-to dark beer for us in winter but we haven’t even reviewed it! We’re fans of this Hoppy Brown Ale. Go and get amongst it.

Five barrel ‘Wildside’ American Brown Ale


“Brown Ales originated in the UK where dark beers started to vary more and more as Pale Ales started to grown in popularity. The influence of traditional Porters are evident as you usually see darker malt take center stage, providing a rich and bitter malt character, as well as colour. Our American Brown Ale uses the classic UK Brown Ale profile with a fuller body and bigger hop profile. We’ve incorporated UK and American hops to add a layer of familiarity and a nod to the heritage of the style. It is an amazingly drinkable beer, and one that we’d like to see more of!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Muddy light brown with mahogany highlights. A thumb of tan foam is assembled and holds its shape well. Patchy lace as we go.

Aroma: Pretty basic four to the floor fragrance. A solid base of toasty and nutty malts, burnt cocoa, delicate coffee, earthy/woody notes and soft dark fruits. The hops do create that crucial Black IPA-like quality but it ends there…it’s really hard to call out any particular scent. Maybe just the slightest hint of pine creeping through but it’s way too gentle. Citrus rind…hhmm…again, maybe? Here’s hoping the flavour kicks off.

Flavour: Nope, unfortunately it’s more of the same restrained hops and typical malt characters. As we push on we’re finding that the restrained hops are more dominant than the malt. And thats saying something. At times we’re reminded of that meme of the stickman prodding the lifeless being on the ground saying “do something”. It barely offers anything but a light toasty-ness, a wee hint of nutty malt and coffee in the finish.

Mouthfeel: It holds up alright actually. A slightly lifted Co2 definitely helps. A tad watery, mild-medium body. 5.8% ABV is tucked away quite well.

Overall: Well that was an unpleasant surprise, we must admit. It’s very rare to see such an average beer from 5 Barrel but that’s exactly what it is. Just lacking in almost every department. Except for the mouthfeel! Disappointing.

Surly Brewing Co ‘Coffee Bender’ Coffee Brown Ale


“REFRESHING LIKE AN ICED COFFEE, AROMATIC LIKE A BAG OF FRESHLY ROASTED BEANS, AND SATISFYING LIKE YOUR FAVORITE BEER. Guatemalan coffee, roasted locally, is added to our house oatmeal brown ale. Cold press coffee aromatics and intense coffee flavors are balanced by the oats in the malt bill, resulting in a cappuccino-like creaminess.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep chestnut pour with a finger and a half of lightly tanned foam. Good retention with a wet lace being dragged down the glass.

Aroma: Huge wafts of coffee emanating off. If we had to guess we would have said Bolivian coffee as it offers strong dark chocolate with hints of vanilla and herbal spice but after a quick check on their website it reveals Guatemalan coffee was used (we were close!). The base is excellent too; plenty of nutty, toasty and creamy notes that marry up with the coffee brilliantly.

Flavour: The intensity of the coffee is scaled back a bit and is replaced with super smooth and creamy chocolate, nutty malts, earthy/woody cocoa, burnt milk and vanilla. But let’s be honest the coffee is still the name of the game here and it reenters with its bittersweet chocolate, mild florals, toffee and delicate smokiness. Lovely sweet and roasty finish rounding it all off.

Mouthfeel: So dense and creamy…and so incredibly smooth! Minimal bitterness, medium-full body. The 5.5% ABV is perfectly positioned.

Overall: Proper stoked to see some of Surly’s beers on our shores as we’ve been keen to try their wares for ages! And as anticipated this American brewery doesn’t disappoint…strong yet well balanced coffee, creamy, well layered, full bodied and delicious! Top notch stuff.

Revel ‘Browntown’ American Brown Ale


“Revel’s Browntown American Brown Ale pours a deep amber brown with a toasty warmth and smooth rich flavour. In true Revel fashion we’ve loaded this this one up with US flavoured hops; Cascade, Amarillo, & Williamette to provide a fruity & piney aroma with plenty of bitterness to balance out the malty body. One to be savoured!”

Glassware: American Pint.

Appearance: Pours a nice deep mahogany with a sturdy two finger head resting atop. Excellent retention and lace work as it ebbs.

Aroma: We can pick up the Black IPA-like scents as it sits idle on the table. Under the nostrils the big roasted malts are amplified further displaying milk chocolate, mild coffee, licorice and molasses. All the while the hops counteract with their piney and citrus-driven aromas…more of an orange citrus approach and finding a unique Jaffa quality in the process. Excellent aroma.

Flavour: Pow! It even drinks like a softer black IPA too! That perfect marriage of roasted malts and Pacific Northwest hops combine to create this super flavour we can best describe as herbal dark chocolate. As it rolls on the bitter coffee, roasted malts, piney hops and mild orange citrus all finish off in style. Good length happening as well.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and silky with a moderate hop bitterness forming in the swallow. Medium body, Co2 is spot on. 5.3% ABV is smack bang in the middle of a traditional and a crafty Brown Ale.

Overall: We’ve had our eyes on this mob for a while but have never taken the leap. To be honest we’re not thrilled with the mundane label but if the quality of the beer is like this then who cares?! Excellent interpretation of the style; it’s rich, in-your-face and muscly. Superb!

Staves ‘Loco Coco’ Double Coconut Brown Ale


“Dark brown colour with a medium, thick beige head that diminishes gradually to an outer ring with small patches of lace. A beautiful aroma of roasted malt, toasted coconut and chocolate, medium bodied with characters of toasted coconut, milk chocolate and a hint of coffee. The finish is roasty coconut, toffee, muesli and coffee.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Kinda deep rusted amber with a thumb of tan foam perched on top. The head slowly recedes and leaves a fine wavy lace down the glass.

Aroma: First thoughts are lots of vanilla and toasted coconut, milk chocolate, nutty and toasty malts and a hint of booze which plays into the subtle touch of Malibu. Guess you could say it tastes a bit like a liquefied boozy Bounty Bar. Mild raw coffee bean and milk sugars in the background. Really delicate earthy hops to be found right down deep. Not bad.

Flavour: Tastes like syrups were used and the balance upfront is a tad skewed. Don’t get us wrong though it’s still flavoursome…plenty of sweet coconut, vanilla, brown sugar, nutty malts, light roast, raw coffee and oats. A nice cameo of hop bitterness midway to break it all up. A slightly cloying sweetness is picked up late in the piece but is alleviated by the returning dryness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very inoffensive for 8.2% ABV. A little creamy, a little sticky. Flat-ish Co2. Medium body.

Overall: It’s a funny one coz we’re not crazy about it but it’s not half bad. It has a few minor faults but it also has some strong points. Don’t mind us while we sit on this comfy old fence.

Old Wives Ales ‘Not’ Hazelnut & Vanilla Brown Ale


“It’s all right there in the name! Rich layers of hazelnut backed up with vanilla and lactose in this pastry-inspired brown ale.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep crimson to light mahogany with a thumb of tan head emerging on top. There’s a slow and steady reduction which settles to a fine film. Laces reasonably well as we imbibe.

Aroma: The hazelnut component really jumps out of the glass while the vanilla is a little bit more unassuming. Once it all settles it does begin to step up though. As for the base Brown Ale…very nice. It’s grounded by the lightly toasted and nutty malts, coffee, subtle caramel and toffee, mocha, white marshmallow and earthy hops. Loving the overall balance and proportionate approach.

Flavour: First thoughts are that something is clashing. We can’t quite isolate it but it’s coming off as a medicinal and slightly off-putting fruity flavour. It’s a shame as it’s only for a few seconds after the delicious introduction of hazelnut and before the continuation of the roasty and milk chocolate driven malts. The positive is that it does subside and the hazelnut, vanilla, coffee, milk chocolate and toffee are free to do their thing to finish.

Mouthfeel: Nice and dense which we always look for in a Brown Ale. The Co2 is restrained and the 6% ABV is extremely well hidden.

Overall: Look in general it’s a good Brown Ale it’s just unfortunate we were picking up that kinda weird fruity/medicinal flavour. Anywho, we won’t hold it against them it’s a fairly decent drop.

Hawkers ‘Nostalgic Tones’ India Brown Ale


“Crack this can, pour it in a glass and let the sultry brown hue reminiscent of a bygone era tickle your retinas.  A luscious hybrid between a toffee-laden malt backbone and hop-centric aromatics deliver a beer that’s rich in character and modern in style.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Kind of a muddy light brown number with a fluffy two finger head forming on top. Good retention and healthy lace sticking to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: As a style we really dig India Brown Ales…they land somewhere between an American Brown Ale and a black IPA and usually show traits of both. Straight off the bat we get the sweet and semi-rich malts displaying the classic toffee/caramel, nutty and milk chocolate with the piney, citrusy and mildly floral hops equally up to the task. The most gentle of additions of toasted coconut from the Sabro hops too.

Flavour: It has literally been flipped around and we love it when the brewers manage to do this as the hops are now doing most of the talking with their nice punchy bitterness upfront and piney, slightly citrusy and woody accents coming in over the semi sweet toffee and nutty malts. This tussle then sets up for a beautifully balanced finish with a delicate roasty-ness drawing out.

Mouthfeel: A little dry, creamy, a good touch of bitterness in the swallow. Co2 is perfectly positioned and the 7% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: A very fine offering from Hawkers. Excellent balance between the hops and malts but not only that’s it’s very all tidy and in tune. Diggin this one.

Cavalier White Choc & Macadamia Brown Ale


“Celebrating a 10 Year Anniversary, this Cavalier Ale is full of nutty, white chocolate notes and nitro adds to its creamy head.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Dark brown almost black with a big and creamy three finger head that holds together nicely. Not a whole lot of lace but there’s consistent rings marking each sip as we go.

Aroma: We could smell the white chocolate as we were pouring it into the glass. Loving how they’ve integrated the white chocolate in with the natural chocolate aromas of the roasted malts…the result smells like a freshly opened block of Top Deck! Also plenty of creamy macadamia, vanilla, cocoa and this strange herbal hop accent which quite honestly is plain old weird and could do without. Other than that it’s a fantastic aroma.

Flavour: It would be an absolutely delicious Brown Ale if it weren’t for this undesirable herbal hop note that has carried through from the nose. It tastes a little like mint choc chip but it has a slight chemical-like note which is a damn shame otherwise it really would have worked in well…even though it has nothing at all to do with the 2 feature flavours!

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Could have been a bit more considering it’s on nitro. Nice and rounded though, medium body. 5% ABV is well positioned.

Overall: This is a strange one. Honestly if they had called this a white chocolate and mint choc chip Brown Ale we’d be talking it up. The macadamia gets a bit lost in the whole herbal hop/mint kerfuffle though, which sucks. Look, not a bad drop it’s just confusing.

IronBark Hill Hazelnut Brown Ale


“A smooth and medium bodied classic English style Ale. A very malt forward beer with biscuit, toffee and nutty flavours which dominate the palate. 5.2% ABV.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Displaying a deep amber with a candy red tint. Our vigorous pour yields an almost flat beer with little head and very little lacing.

Aroma: The hazelnut component is front and centre as expected. There’s a lovely earthy/toasty sweetness that this particular nut brings that works so well with not only Brown Ales but other medium darks like Ambers and Dark Ales. The hazelnuts are embraced by a hearty malt profile which offers robust notes of toast, buttery biscuits, toffee, tobacco and mild coffee. Getting a hint of something fruity too which is a nice touch.

Flavour: Quite flat and watery. This was our worry from the outset when it poured with almost no Co2. Then again, English ales are traditionally flat so we’ll cut them some slack there. The hazelnut doesn’t stand out as much, it’s kinda fallen back into line with everything else and what we’re getting now is a wider scope of the nutty malts, toast, caramel/toffee, doughy bread and subtle orange/marmalade.

Mouthfeel: Flat, a little lean and slippery but smooth as silk. Low Co2, moderately bodied. The 5.2% ABV is well placed.

Overall: Look it’s not going to blow the roofs off any houses but at its core it’s a fairly well executed Brown Ale. In saying that one of our biggest gripes with any dark ale is a thin body and unfortunately it’s guilty of that. Not bad but not great either.

Bad Shepherd Hazelnut Brown Ale


“A toasty and malty ale loaded with the rich nuttiness of roasted hazelnuts. Brewed with real hazelnuts, vanilla and a splash of Frangelico. Smooth and nutty with a dry clean finish.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Lovely chestnut colour with two fingers of lightly tanned foam perched on top. Good retention and reasonable lace as it subsides.

Aroma: Loving the fact they’ve used real hazelnuts…it just adds that raw element that syrups don’t provide. Obviously the nutty and somewhat earthy notes of hazelnut dominate but there’s some solid support from the toasty malts, cocoa, milk chocolate, vanilla, mocha and toffee fudge. Just a beautifully balanced and rounded aroma.

Flavour: Even better than the aroma. And that is rare! The hazelnut is front and centre with its delicious nutty earthy-ness, then the back up arrives bringing oodles of chocolatey goodness, cocoa, vanilla, caramel/toffee, toasty and nutty malts, subtle roast and a flutter of mild coffee. This deliciousness surges in to the roasty and nutty finish and draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Nice and muscly but also fluffy and well rounded. Medium-full body (which we love in Brown Ales) with moderate Co2. The 5.6% ABV is well contained.

Overall: That is a bloody ripper of a Brown Ale. We probably did it the wrong way around…reviewing the double version before this original but it doesn’t really matter as this bad boy holds its own. Sensational drop.

Ballistic X Craft Cartel Affogato Brown Ale


“Aroma of espresso coffee and milk chocolate, with a hint of ice-cream. The taste is of subdued chocolate, malt sweetness and creamy vanilla. The lactose gives the beer a luscious rounded mouthfeel which coats the inside of your mouth.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Gorgeous dark cola to mahogany with a frothy three finger head. It slowly deconstructs and drags a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: Nice, dark and roasty. Loving the amount of bottom end…plenty of heavily roasted malts, espresso and light campfire/ash. As she settles the vanilla and lactose open up and start revealing the sweet ice cream-like notes. Chocolate and cacao, burnt toast, earthy spice and a touch of licorice also getting a look in. Good depth… hopefully this all carries in to the palate!

Flavour: Well it holds up pretty nicely. More of a blended profile as opposed to the aroma; roasted malts, chocolate and coffee fused with the sweet and spicy vanilla, lactose and nuts. Picking up the ashy flavours late in the piece as it delivers a roasty and toasty finish with lingering coffee and dark chocolate on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and oily. A slightly lifted CO2 hands it a bit of extra life but it still sits a little on the lean side. Mild-medium body. 5.5% ABV is nicely placed.

Overall: It’s a good beer but it just falls short of the mark for us. The Affogato side was portrayed well but for one of us Affogato is a favourite dessert and without the addition of either Frangelico or Kahlua it just isn’t complete! Either way it’s not a bad drop.

King Tide ‘Cows With Guns’ India Brown Ale


“Geared with toasted malts and cranked up with resinous hops. Cheers to an epic local bike track!”

Glassware: American Pint.

Appearance: Light chestnut brown with a big three finger head. It takes an age to reduce and leaves a smattering of lace on the glass.

Aroma: Straight away we get a nose full of those gorgeous toasty chocolate malts.. throwing out cocoa, light coffee and roasted nuts. Although it’s hopped more than your typical Brown Ale the hops don’t really cut through as much as we’d like.. shy-ish notes of pine resin, subtle citrus and dank/weedy herbs. Not half bad but.

Flavour: Promising start of sharp piney hops, resin and pithy grapefruit with the roasty/toasty malts giving it some bottom end. It holds rather well with the citric bitterness and dank weedy herbs coming through the other side and leading on to a nutty/toasty finish. Some fairly aggressive bitterness on the back end too.

Mouthfeel: Just a tad too light on for our liking. Nicely balanced though, good Co2. 6.7% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: A pretty decent representation of the style. Well balanced, full flavoured, a bit of grunt to boot. A fine offering really.