Tag Archives: brown ale

Case Swap: New Brown

This post is part of a series of twenty-three discussing beers brewed by members of the Merri Mashers brewing club for their 2015 case swap celebration.

This is a sour beer by one of the club’s aficionados. The label states that it is a 5.6% ABV fresh tart brown ale with French oak and Pinot noir, brewed from 2-row, Caramunich, Special B, Wheat, Saaz and fermented with Lactobacillus Plantarum and WLP575. Then additions of medium toast French oak and 2014 Dead Mouse Pinot Noir. Sounds interesting!

The beer slid into the glass hesitantly with delicate carbonation and a muted red EBC. No head was present at all, nor any hops on the nose. The aroma was vinegar and lumber, with a bit of cherry or something behind the wood. Slightly citrusy flavours and generic malt tried to make themselves known on drinking, but to my palate these notes were hammered into submission by an aggressive sourness that was definitely to the detriment of the beer.

I am not a huge sour beer drinker but I know the ones I’ve loved – for instance all Russian River and Berlinner Weisses. I struggled with this particular beer – I think it’s the vinegar, which reminds me too much of pediococcus infections I’ve had in the past when brewing.

2 Brothers Growler American Brown Ale

I am a fan of 2 Brothers, but never get to the brewery proper as they are marooned on the other side of the city. They won a suite of awards from 2010-13 and have strong distribution across bars in Melbourne. Basically, if you see a 2 Brothers beer on tap you can be assured that it won’t be too crazy, but will be reliably solid. Of course they do some exciting seasonal stuff but it is so rare to see that I basically discount them – when I think 2 Brothers I think American Brown Ale and Pilsner only; their two biggest beers. The rice lager gets about too but it’s not as tasty.

A mate left a bottle of Growler ABA at my place after brewing the Barley Mumme a few weeks ago. Tragedy when that happens!

The Growler presents in dark polished red hues, auburn to brown with a dwarf beige nougat head. The aroma is faintly hoppy, but mostly vanilla. Where this beer excels in it its luscious mouthfeel; creamy, satisfying, well-parked at the back of the throat. This provides a smooth path for light cocoa and roast flavours, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg hitting the taste buds in follow up.

Delicate hop usage gives the beer a malt-forward profile. The Growler is a dangerously satisfying beer. Best in a nordic pint glass, at cellar temperature, on a cold day after working hard in the garden, the office or the brew shed.

I was given this bottle of beer and drank it at home.

Kuka Brewery Banana Nut Brown

Kuka, otherwise known as the Andean Brewing Company, is a peculiar beast. Brewing out of New York state, their main point of difference is that many of their ales have maca root, a Peruvian “super food“, in their grists. I couldn’t confirm whether the Banana Nut Brown Ale has maca root in it or not, but given nearly all Kuka beers do it is safe to assume so. Either way I couldn’t taste it; but then again I don’t know what it tastes like!

The bar I enjoyed this beer at was quite hilarious – quintessential groovy Brooklyn. Beer was worshipped at this establishment and listening to the manager train a new bar worker was a treat. She had worked in pubs before but never a craft beer bar. It was a good reminder of just how specialised craft beer places are compared to regular pubs. This new staff member had to memorise tap lists, tap order, glassware, not to mention beer styles she had never heard of. It will only take her a few days and she’ll be bored shitless of course – that’s the hospitality industry for you.

Anyway, this kooky super-food beer features a rich brown mud complexion with a fertile beige head. It’s head reduces nicely to a petite pancake; retention is low, but suits the beer’s similarly low carbonation. A prominent toffee, cocoa and chocolate aroma cluster presides, giving a fresh warmth and reminding me of chocolate lollies. No esters. A moderate bitterness delivers extreme, wild banana sugar flavours. You know those banana lollies you ate as a kid? That is this beer.

There are tidbits of roasted malt chocolates and burnt flavours but really quite little for the EBC. Perhaps brown malt used? It’s an awkward beer but I would buy again. The best banana beer I’ve tried so far; there aren’t many. This one definitely hits banana on the head but more the “artificial banana” flavour, kind of like “chicken” flavoured chips – we all know what it tastes like, but it isn’t the taste of real chicken.

I drank a pint of this draught beer at Top Hops on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Now this is a venerable beer!

The Newcastle Brown Ale has been brewed in various forms for nearly ninety years and is as British and “working man” as beer can get. In 2008 its brewery, Scottish & Newcastle, was purchased by Heineken. The beer’s huge production numbers definitely label it macro, but here in Australia it is firmly in the craft market. For whatever reason it is exported in a clear glass bottle.

First off, my bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale had zero carbonation. Not sure what was up with that – and this flatness may have impacted on my subsequent experience of the beer. It poured a muddy brown, only just translucent. A caramel malt aroma rushed from the glass, buffeted by mild apple esters. This hit of deliciousness gave a satisfying transition to the taste buds; a smooth fruity, dark crystal flavour surrounded my tongue.

This beer is not at all roasty; rather its colouring seems to come out in the dark crystal flavour. I would put it as more of an ESB than a genuine Brown Ale, going by BJCP standards. But that’s splitting hairs in the world of taste and enjoyment. Finally, I could even attribute lavender notes to my beer – not sure where this was coming from, but probably a yeast or hop thing (though there’s little other hop flavour).

It’s an interesting beer. I think I would drink a lot of it if it was ever on tap – the British equivalent of the something like the Aussie Pacific Ale.

I drank this beer at home and bought it from McCoppins, Abbotsford.