I’ve noticed a lack of Brown Ales in the beer world. I don’t have statistics on this, but it seems like the beer geek is much less interested in Brown Ales than in other styles. The same was true for me until one of my favorite Oregon breweries, Double Mountain, put like 5 different brown ales on their menu a year or so ago. Since then I’ve been interested in how different breweries approach the style. So I’m going to show you three brown ales. One is from Colorado Springs and the other two are local to Colorado and accessible in Colorado Springs:
Odell Brewing – Sabateur
Odell hails from Fort Collins. This beer is still available at Coaltrain’s in Colorado Springs. The bottle says it’s a “Brett Barrel Brown Ale.” If you’re not sure what this means, let me tell you a little. Brett is short for Brettanomyces, a wild Belgian yeast that can take the beer a number of uncontrollable directions. When the beer is aged for a long time the beer becomes quite sour, as opposed to being bitter from hops. The beer was also aged in oak barrels so there will be a woodiness to the beer and possibly some vanilla flavors will come from the oak. So, let’s see what we’ve got. Pours a beautiful dark brown, it’s so dark you can’t see all the way through it and there is a beautiful thick tan head that stays in my glass the whole time I drink the beer. There is a strong sour candy aroma, with a hint of roasted malt. The sourness hits as the beer
is going down, but it’s not overwhelming, it’s balanced, there is definitely a vanilla presence that grows stronger as the beer warms up. The bottle says to look out for pineapple, which I believe is present due to the sour tartness of the beer. There is also a clear “brown ale” presence that gets stronger as it warms up. An earthy nuttiness, some toffee and a slight toastiness as well. I really enjoyed this beer, it was very fun to drink and not over the top sour.
New Belgium – Frambozen
This beer is labeled as a mix between a Framboise and a Brown Ale. A Framboise is a Belgain beer fermented with raspberries and is generally sweet tasting. The raspberry portion of New Belgium’s offering is definitely emphasized over the brown ale. It pours a beautiful dark purple with a thick tan head that may have hints of red. The head sticks around for a while. The aroma is of raspberries and tiny bit of roast coming from the brown ale portion of the beer. The beer is a little fizzy, like you would expect in a sparkling cider, but it’s not overwhelming. The raspberries are definitely at the front end of the beer, but as it goes down there are some brown ale notes that pop through, such as a little toffee and roasted nuts. The beer is thin and finishes semi-dry. It’s at 6.5% alcohol but it definitely taste that boozy. It comes in a six pack so my assumption immediately is that you’re supposed to be able to put a few of these away in one sitting. I would say that’s definitely possible. It’s not a complex tasting beer, but it is satisfying and the simplicity of flavors are welcomed.
Bristol – Cheyenne Canyon Piñon Nut Brown
This beer was made for the Cheyenne Canyon. This beer won the Silver Medal in 2009 at the Great American Beer Festival in the American Style Brown Ale category. The beer pours a dark copper color with a thick tan head. The aroma is of toffee with slightly esthery yeast notes. The texture is crisp, but also some smoothness to it and not as thin as I thought it would be from the aroma. The taste is of toffee and some hints of coffee, but not like a stout. The carbonation is spot on. I am picking up some of the fruity esthers in the flavor as well, it reminds me of apple a tiny bit. It tastes warm and roasty from the sweet roasted malts, just like a brown ale should. I actually taste some bittering hops barely back there in the finish which balances those sweet malts quite nicely and then at 6.3% the beer is slightly higher than the average brown ale but is really easy to drink. I’ve enjoyed this one a few times and will probably pick it up again because it’s really well balanced, and provides just enough of an American kick to what could be considered by many a bit of a boring style.