2005 | REVIEWS | BLIND BEER TASTINGS
CBN Brown Ale Blind Tastings
CBN Blind Tasting Panel
• Jay R. Brooks, Tasting Panel Director, CBN
• Bob Coleman, Reporter, CBN
• Tom Dalldorf, Editor / Publisher, CBN
• Paul Marshall, Beer Judge
• R.J. Trent, Beer Retailer / Former Brewer
• Special thanks to Mike Long, BTP Tasting coordinator/head
English brown ales — as distinct from Belgian (or Flemish)
brown (or Bruins), which are a completely different and unrelated
style — were not originally considered a separate style
until around 40 years ago. The style’s most famous example
is undoubtedly Newcastle Brown Ale, first brewed in 1927.
English-style brown ales are dark amber to deep brown in color
with dry to sweet malt character and low hopping (15–25
IBUs). Some roasted qualities and fruit esters are appropriate.
There are also subtypes of English-style brown ales: mild
(brown “lite”), northern English brown (Newcastle)
and southern English brown (slightly less dry and less hoppy
than the northern variety). American brown ales tend to be
slightly more hoppy, and some add nuts or hazelnuts to emphasize
and bring out the nutty character hinted at in the term nut
brown ale. American-style browns differ only in higher hop
character (25–45 IBUs), more chocolate or caramel roasted
notes and lower esters.
Brown Tribute Ale
Bear Republic Brewing Co., California
A tribute to longtime employee Peter Brown, who died tragically
in 2002. A sweet malt nose with nutty, fruit-ester aromas.
Dark brown color and a thick, rich tan head. Creamy, rich
malt flavors with a delightful combination of smooth milk
chocolate and roasted barley that ends with a long, hoppy
finish. A terrific American brown ale.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Delaware
Complex nose of smoky, spicy, nutty and rich coffee aromas.
Deep, dark brown color. Soft, rich and lightly sweet honey
flavors with nutty malt character and a big, tart finish.
Drool Brown Ale
Big Sky Brewing Co., Montana
Sweet estery aromas with hints of caramel, hazelnut, spices
and roasted malt. Deep brown mahogany color with a tan head.
Soft, clean, malt-forward flavors with good balance and hints
of brown rice. Ends with a refreshingly clean, tart flourish.
Rogue Ales, Oregon
Strong aromas of hazelnut and vanilla. Deep brown color and
a tan head. Creamy, big, fat, sweet malt blast of toffee,
caramel, vanilla and, of course, hazelnut, with great conditioning
and a big, dry finish.
Lost Coast Brewing Co., California
Sweet herbal nose, nice brown color and a tan head. Soft malt
flavor with nutty undertones and good balance. The finish
is long and tart.
Newcastle Breweries, Ltd., England
Rich, buttery and caramel malt aromas. Brown color and a tan
head. Creamy, smooth flavors with rich caramel notes and excellent
roasted malt character. Hints of banana esters present. Ends
with a long, rich finish.
Pete’s Brewing Co., New York and Texas
Nutty, malty nose, dark amber color and a thick tan head.
Tart and nutty malt flavors with good balance and a dry, bitter
Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
The Old Brewery at Tadcaster, England
Sweet, malty nose with hints of sherry and vegetal notes.
Dark brown color with a rich tan head. Creamy and chewy, with
assertive malt flavors, just a hint of watermelon and a long,
Brown Ale – Certified Organic
Otter Creek Brewing, Vermont
Nutty aromas with hints of alfalfa. Brown-amber color and
a rich tan head. Creamy, with a good mouthfeel, spicy malt
character and a dry, nutty tea-like finish.
Acme Brewing Co., California
Hazelnut malt aromas with sweet notes. Deep amber color and
a tan head. Decent rounded malt character with pronounced
Lost Coast Brewing Co., California
Raspberry estery aromas dominate the nose. The color is dark
brown with a tan head. Creamy, with strong raspberry extract
fruit flavor and good malt balance.
Schooner’s Brewing Co., California
Light, perfumey, citric nose. Amber-brown color and large,
oversized bubbles. Restrained malt flavors. Phenolic and astringent,
creating an unpleasant chili-like spice character.