So Fall officially arrived last week, and after a brutally hot Summer, we certainly welcome it with open arms! Back in June, we profiled the English variety of Brown Ale, which is, in fact, a different animal … more reserved, traditional, and generally milder. But of course, like everything else, we Americans like to push the limits – and this is also the case with the American Brown Ale.
This style will typically have a caramel, toasty, nutty, and/or chocolate aroma and flavor, with medium to high bitterness. Hop flavor can be light to moderate, and may optionally have a citrusy character… and this hoppy burst, my friends, is where the main difference lies. The mouthfeel can be a bit different as well – as more bitter versions may even have a dry, resiny quality, with a moderate to high carbonation level. It is, essentially, the English version on Roids.
Below is the Gateway Beers profile of the typical characteristics found in an American Brown Ale (on a 1-5 bar scale):
Here’s a nice write-up of the American Brown Ale style from the Beer Judge Certification Program:
Aroma: Malty, sweet and rich, which often has a chocolate, caramel, nutty and/or toasty quality. Hop aroma is typically low to moderate. Some interpretations of the style may feature a stronger hop aroma, a citrusy American hop character, and/or a fresh dry-hopped aroma (all are optional). Fruity esters are moderate to very low. The dark malt character is more robust than other brown ales, yet stops short of being overly porter-like. The malt and hops are generally balanced. Moderately low to no diacetyl.
Appearance: Light to very dark brown color. Clear. Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.
Flavor: Medium to high malty flavor (often with caramel, toasty and/or chocolate flavors), with medium to medium-high bitterness. The medium to medium-dry finish provides an aftertaste having both malt and hops. Hop flavor can be light to moderate, and may optionally have a citrusy character. Very low to moderate fruity esters. Moderately low to no diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body. More bitter versions may have a dry, resiny impression. Moderate to moderately high carbonation. Stronger versions may have some alcohol warmth in the finish.
Overall Impression: Can be considered a bigger, maltier, hoppier interpretation of Northern English brown ale or a hoppier, less malty Brown Porter, often including the citrus-accented hop presence that is characteristic of American hop varieties.
The American Brown Ale is terrifc with many different types of food. You can start things off with either earthy cheeses like camembert and fontina, or nutty cheeses like asiago, colby, and parmesan; Chile con carne is also a nice match to kick off a meal. For an entrée, you can go with a standard steak, or get adventurous with lamb or venison. If you don’t eat things with legs, go with pecan-crusted snapper. Wrap up your meal with a waffle cone full of chocolate chip coffee ice cream, and you’ll be one happy camper.
Serving & Glassware
The American Brown Ale is best served at 45-50 degrees, and sits well in either a big nonic pint glass, or phat mug…
What to Buy:
There are about 30 varieties of American Brown Ale that you can find here in Southeastern PA, with the following three being both well-rated, and pretty readily available across your better bottle shops and distributors in the area:
– Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale, 5.5% ABV (Tampa, FL) now in 12 oz bottles!
– Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale, 5.6% ABV (Farmville, NC)
– Sierra Nevada Tumbler, 5.5% ABV (Chico, CA)
For additional options, check out our American Brown Ale page, or just connect with us on FACEBOOK for daily recommendations this week … and Leave a Reply below to let us know what you think about the style!