Brown ales are never in fashion. Brown ales laugh at today’s trends. They neither sound exotic like saíson nor tell terrific tales of long voyages over seas like IPAs.
Yet the unfashionable but ever reliable brown ales make a strong case to be a part of anyone’s drinking repertoire.
Brown ales are located in the beer spectrum somewhere between a red ale and a porter. And what I love about brown ales is that they give you a bit of everything, some chocolate, some caramel, and depending on the style, hops.
When done well, they are nicely balanced and all the elements work in harmony. It’s an underrated style and for me works a lot better than the contradictory by name and sometimes by taste, Black IPA style, which has the potential for a clash between the roasted malt and the hops if not done just right.
Some brown ales to try
Big Shed Frankenbrown – I loved this beer on tap and it presents well in the bottle too. It’s an American style with more aggressive hop flavours, bright and grassy, as well as showcasing the caramel and chocolate from the malts. It punches above its alcohol weight too, at only 5% it has a lot of flavour.
Two Brothers Growler is also a classic of the Australian craft beer scene as the Moorabbin brewery was perhaps the first to push the style with this tasty American style brown ale one of their core beers.
The big chocolate flavour and firm piney bitterness reminds of some of the best examples from the US, like the Brooklyn Brown and Abita’s Turbodog.
Mornington Peninsula Brown Ale – To me is an exemplary English style brown ale with every element working beautifully in balance. Goes down well and focuses on the malt characteristics and drinkability. Is also now widely available through Dan’s.
Pact Brickworks Brown Ale – The first bottled beer I’ve had brewed in the ACT, I was pleasantly surprised.
This brown was heavier on the chocolate than is typical for the style while still keeping its foot firmly in the brown camp with a smoother sweeter finish than you would find with a porter or stout.
Mornington Peninsula Russell Brown Belgian Ale – I love how Mornington Peninsula promised me to deliver more exciting beers and they have delivered with limited releases like this one. I like that they’ve gone for intriguing but highly drinkable beers over just big crazy beers.
I’m not always a huge fan of Belgian style beers brewed outside of Belgium but this one hits the mark and is one of the best I’ve had in a while, showcasing the malts and the Belgian yeast nicely.
Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown – Everything tastes better with coffee. Well for me at least. A real sweet finish to this imperial strength brown ale provides a nice contrast with the coffee.