1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of 2012

Now that we’re in the new year, I think we’re going to start the number over on our new quest to 100 beers in 2012. Today we’re tasting a style of beer that’s become a favorite: English Style Brown Ales. Since this is our first go with nut browns….

Brown ale is a style of beer with a dark amber or brown colour. The term was first used by London brewers in the late 17th century to describe their products, such as mild ale,[1] though the term had a rather different meaning than it does today. 18th-century brown ales were lightly hopped and brewed from 100% brown malt. (source) The most well known brown ale in the States, is Newcastle…which we’re not tasting today.  We’ve got a good mix of brewers today: Pete’s, Ska, Dundee, New Glaus, and Samuel Smith’s.

Pete’s Wicked Ale (5.3% ABV)

Pete's Wicked Ale

Nik: I remember hating this beer after I drank it in the 90’s because of seeing signs for it in Chasing Amy. (Remember when Kevin Smith made good movies? I do.) Well, times and my tastes have surely changed. This beer has a very good, tight bubbled head. It’s aroma is very strong and full of malt and slightly fruity. It has a deep reddish color, a bit different than the rest, and it’s slightly cloudy. The taste is bitter and hoppy with a very smooth finish. It has more of a bitter hop taste than malt taste, which is why I’m sure I hated it all those years ago. This is a very good beer and I’ll drink it again.

Bob: Nice head, but it did not last very long. This brew is a clear medium reddish-brown color. Nicely aromatic with pleasant hop aroma. Taste is sweeter than Sam Smith and not as malty nor bittered as well as the SS offering. Also has a little more carbonation, which seems typical of American beers. Overal a pleasant drink, though.

Ska Brewing Buster Nut Brown Ale (5.15% ABV)

Ska Buster Nut Brown Ale

Nik: Ska brewing’s penchant for silly names definitely comes through again with this one. After we poured it the malt aroma was nearly palpable as was the taste. The head was very thin and goes away pretty quickly. It has a cloudy, dark, brown color. There was no hop to the flavor, just the very strong malt. I loved this beer.

Bob: The brew has more of everything except head, which was minimal and dissipated quickly. A nice, hoppy aroma that offered an enticing blend of both hops and malt. Had a much darker flavor and more hops than either SS or Pete’s, but this type of overkill seems to be typical of Ska brews. It works for some, but not as well for others. This was easily drinkable, just not one of my favorites.

New Glarus Fat Squirrel (5.8% ABV)

Fat Squirrel

Nik: My friend gave me a single bottle of this brew. So, I figured I had to review it. This beer is not available in Missouri unfortunately. This ale pours a very nice, tight bubbled head with small bubbles that last for a very long time. It has a wonderful hop aroma and a perfect brown color with perfect clarity. This beer is very smooth and malty with a nice hop bite at the end. This is a spectacular beer.

Bob: A great tan small-bubbled head that lasted well and laced the glass nicely. Color was very clear and similar to Pete’s. Excellent hop aroma. Not too highly carbonated, with a wonderful maltiness that was still blended well with the hops. Has a lighter mouthfeel and would make a very good session beer. Pleasant overall–not too hoppy, and the distinct taste of hazelnut makes it a little unusual.

Dundee Nut Brown Ale (5.4% ABV)

Dundee Nut Brown Ale

Nik: Dundee is a company that I feel puts out high quality beers, but I never hear anybody talk about them and this beer was no exception. It has a very pleasing, but skunky head and aroma. I don’t know how else to describe it. The foam doesn’t last very long, but it leaves some nice lacing down the glass. It’s very dark and has a wonderful nutty taste. It’s a great mix between the malts and the hops. Another wonderful beer from Dundee.

Bob: Liquid was easily the darkest brown color in this grouping, but still very clear. The head laces the glass well but doesn’t last particularly long. Very nice hop aroma and taste, mellowed by a slight hazelnut flavoring. Different tasting but still very pleasant. Another win for Dundee, which is becoming one of our “go-to” breweries.

Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale (5% ABV)

Samuel Smith

Nik: The daddy of them all: Samuel Smith. Santa may have brought us a Samuel Smith gift pack and that may have been the inspiration for this brown tasting, but let’s move forward. This beer has a great head of very tight bubbled foam. It has a hoppy taste with a great malty nose. This beer is crystal clear and deeply bronze. It has an amazingly perfect taste; it’s the prototypical brown ale. It’s wonderfully nutty and malty. This is a perfect beer and the price does reflect that.

Bob: Wonderful tan, long-lasting and full head. Liquid a very clear brown with a ruby cast. Very pleasant, hoppy aroma, nicely matched by a rich malty taste that is bittered just the right amount. An excellent melding of hops and malt, with a great aftertaste that lasts a long time. Not particularly sweet, which I liked, and offering a pleasant tang of roasted malt. Another terrific brew from one of our favorite breweries.

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