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Brown Ale Taste Off

brownsThe Judges:

Myself, Ryan Turner,                          Chad Meindl (@chadmeindl),             Dan Weiser (@badger_alum1) and Kristin Turner

The Competitors:

Peoples Mr. Brown, Newcastle Brown Ale, Mother’s Three Blind Mice, Ale Asylum Mad Town Nut Brown, and Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge


The Rules:

Each of the judges will be asked to pick their favorite brew based solely on personal preference. Each judge will rank the beers in order 1-5 and then points will be assigned in reverse order based on the rating (e.g. 5 points for favorite beer and 1 point for least favorite). 

The Results:

1. Peoples Mr. Brown – 24 points

2. Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge – 17 points

3. Ale Asylum Mad Town Nut Brown – 16 points

4. Mother’s Three Blind Mice – 13 points

5. Newcastle Brown Ale – 5 points

Personal Reaction:

Taking a closer looker at the results, 3 out of the 5 judges had the exact same ballot, which is the order in which the voting ended up.  Maybe even more telling is if you take a look at the ABV, going from first to last they are: 7.0%, 6.0%, 5.5%, 5.5%, and 4.7%.  I would say I am pretty underwhelmed by the style in general.  During the tasting, there was nothing distinct in the flavor profile that really separated one from another, but as you can tell by the ABV’s, the higher the alcohol, the more flavor.  I have always been a fan of Rocky’s Revenge and Mad Town and those are two solid representatives of the style.  If anything, Mad Town was almost able to buck the trend that ABV was the deciding factor.  What is there to say about Newcastle, it was a solid gateway beer.   

Brewers out there, you want the secret to making the best brown ale: crank up the ABV.

2 thoughts on “Brown Ale Taste Off”

  1. There’s got to be more to a good brown ale than ABV. Now granted, brewing a beer that’s full of flavor and under 5% abv is harder, it can be done. Was this specifically English brown by style?

    The example I am most familiar with is an American brown, Smuttynose’s Old Brown Dog. But doing some quick research, I see that it’s about 6.5% too. Never knew that!

    I do find that I just don’t care for the Brown Ale style all that much. It seems bland and boring. Maybe the right yeast can make a difference. My local homebrew shop owner made a basic brown with 1968 London ESB yeast and it was delicious. Creamy.

    Being in MA, I’ve not see those examples (other than the Newcastle of course) of brown ales. Just not a very popular style in the States it seems. The only brown I’ve brewed is Tasty McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale recipe, and that’s more like a Brown IPA than a brown ale. 6.7%, something like 60 IBUs, and dryhopped (mostly American hops too of course)

  2. Thanks for the response Jimlin. Probably poor design on my part, but three were American Browns, Newcastle is an Enlgish brown, and technically 3 Blind Mice was as Alt (German Brown), but you could not tell by the taste.

    I think it is a style that needs a burst of creativity and I think that is starting to happen. I really like the idea of imparting some creaminess, taking it up to the next level. I have plans for homebrewing a double coffee brown. Bump up the ABV to upper 7’s and add some coffee, maybe even a little smokiness by using a Sumatran.
    I also love the idea of the imperial brown and highlighting the hops.

    I hope to see a new wave of browns come through and the traditional browns will take a back seat much similar to what has happened with APA’s.


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