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Dirty Helen Brown Ale - Barley Island Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dirty Helen Brown AleDirty Helen Brown Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

150 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 150
Reviews: 81
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 11.88%
Wants: 4
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Barley Island Brewing Company visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
STYLE Brown Ale
MALT Pale, Crystal 60, Munich, Carahell, Chocolate
HOP Tettnang, Challenger, Cascade, Glacier
ABV 5.2
IBU 25
SRM 21

(Beer added by: zerk on 03-28-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Dirty Helen Brown Ale Alström Bros
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Ratings: 150 | Reviews: 81 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of salvo


2.25/5  rDev -37.8%

This most aptly named brew from Barley Island pours chestnut brown into my imperial pint. The carbonation is soda-like, with large bubbles that produce a fluffy bubbly two-inch head that quickly dissipates. The nose is earthy malt with dark chocolate tones in the background. When first poured, the carbonation tickled my nose, but then over time calmed down to almost flatten completely in 10 minutes.

The taste is why I accuse the beer of being aptly named: with little hopping, the earthy malts take over and the name Dirty Helen becomes cannily descriptive. It tastes like dirt! The "dirty" taste is more powerful than "earthy" and I can imagine the Indiana topsoil from which the ingredients emerge.

It is very light on the palate; almost like soda pop with its carbonation. The lower alcohol--session levels--should make this highly drinkable, but the bitter finish puts me off.

06-26-2010 21:42:53 | More by salvo
Photo of Filabee


2.5/5  rDev -30.9%

04-05-2014 17:13:05 | More by Filabee
Photo of hotstuff


2.65/5  rDev -26.8%

This beer poured a large tan head with fine-small sized bubbles.The body of this beer was clear and the hue was red.The nose was malty and hoppy.This beer left an excellent lacing on the sides of my glass.The flavor was very bitter and it left an aftertaste that lingered for some time.The mouthfeel was smooth, but this beer reminded me of a Pale Ale as it was very hoppy.

08-04-2003 17:10:39 | More by hotstuff
Photo of Hazy


2.75/5  rDev -24%

03-27-2013 23:58:14 | More by Hazy
Photo of griffiam03


2.75/5  rDev -24%

12-15-2012 03:27:45 | More by griffiam03
Photo of bohemyth


2.75/5  rDev -24%

05-06-2013 01:01:27 | More by bohemyth
Photo of drtacks37


2.93/5  rDev -19.1%

Poured into a pint glass. LOTS of head. Thick, creamy, light tan head.

Brown body, no light shines through. Some particles floating.

Smells like a scotch-style ale. Heavy on alcohol (in smell only) and hoppy.

Nice, creamy mouthfeel.

Below-average flavors, to light for my palate to diferentiate, with a hoppy afterbite.

I try every brown ale I can find. This one does not do it for me.

06-04-2010 22:08:39 | More by drtacks37
Photo of GregBlatz


2.98/5  rDev -17.7%

Never heard of Barley Island until a friend visited Indy and picked me up a variety of their beers.

A - Nice deep raisin brown color. I poured in the sediment as well so my beer is pretty cloudy. Head was subdued and only had a film over the surface area. Color of the head was almost white rather than tan.

S - Dark fruit is the first thing that comes to mind. Some fruity esters are noticeable.

T - Silky and velvety. Very very sweet. High finishing gravity, or high mash temperature? Malt dominates this beer. No noticeable diacetyl flavor. Clearly an American style rather than an English interpretation.

M - Carbonation is light. This has a very thick and full mouthfeel.

D - Good as a one off. I don't think anyone would like to have multiples of this. It is too sweet to have more than one. This would be a good after dinner drink.

12-20-2010 23:19:19 | More by GregBlatz
Photo of ironwill54

3/5  rDev -17.1%

11-28-2012 21:20:52 | More by ironwill54
Photo of Thorpe429


3/5  rDev -17.1%

09-10-2013 22:24:57 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of Viperman1316


3/5  rDev -17.1%

03-24-2014 02:25:30 | More by Viperman1316
Photo of brandoman63


3/5  rDev -17.1%

11-28-2011 20:22:59 | More by brandoman63
Photo of osuskin


3/5  rDev -17.1%

02-13-2014 00:47:59 | More by osuskin
Photo of freemanj


3/5  rDev -17.1%

07-14-2013 01:09:11 | More by freemanj
Photo of nheinzie57


3/5  rDev -17.1%

09-04-2012 01:54:18 | More by nheinzie57
Photo of neckbracesub


3/5  rDev -17.1%

03-06-2012 22:42:31 | More by neckbracesub
Photo of Mora2000


3.05/5  rDev -15.7%

Thanks to Cavie for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with a cream-colored head. The aroma is caramel and toffee malt, about what you would expect from a brown ale. The flavor is more of the same, with the addition of some grassy hops which add a slight bit of bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

11-29-2010 06:29:10 | More by Mora2000
Photo of WoodBrew


3.05/5  rDev -15.7%

Tried the Dirty Helen and a beer tasting party last night. The beer poured a nice dark amber/brown with decent white head that laced. The smell was ok, it had hints of burnt grains, and was deep and sweet. The taste was more bitter than expected....like sour dough bread. The beer also finished kinda acidic. There were hints of peat and bogg. The mouthfeel was lighter than expected with decent carbonation. Overall it was ok.

12-17-2011 23:21:20 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of deereless


3.05/5  rDev -15.7%

A: Serious carbonation problem that resulted in a flow over of the bottle, 6 inches of foam to a half an inch of beer off an easy pour, lots of sticky spots down the interior of the glass as the head drops, light brown to weak coffee in color - 2.50, S: Malts really take the stage on the nose, mildly earthy and woody, there is a fair degree of toastiness and nuttiness to the aroma as well - 3.00, T: The palate has a caramel and milk chocolate sweetness, slight fruitiness, mild hop bite - 3.50, M: The mouth feel of Dirty Helen is quite flaccid and thin, the initial burst of carbonation sapped the prickle I associate with the bubbles - 2.50, D: I'm not sure if I have an old bottle and without a date on the bottle it is impossible to tell, but there are a few things about Dirty Helen that seem off yet close enough to the style to merit this review, the initial carbonation really took away from the appearance and the mouth feel, I personally would be unlikely to drink this beer again - 2.50

09-25-2010 23:31:27 | More by deereless
Photo of cameraman


3.1/5  rDev -14.4%

Poured into a pint glass, with a deep copper/brown color, more like a cestnut color. A slight head forms that disappates quickly. The scent of carmel malt is very apparent with some hoppy spiciness. The taste starts with that malty sweetness, followed by a nutty flavor, and finishes with a hoppy finish. The mouthfeel medium bodied to watery with a little bit of a tingle from the carbonation. Overall this beer is pretty drinkable, the flavor is solid, but nothing stands out to make this beer outstanding.

04-28-2006 16:01:50 | More by cameraman
Photo of Beejay


3.13/5  rDev -13.5%

A: reddish brown with a light tan foam...

S: Malty, sugary.. syrupy.. Kinda like breakfast.

T: Malty, and a little sweet.. Not a lot of bitter, just kinda.. meh.. Kinda tastes like "just add malt syrup, and you have beer!"

M: It's wet.

D: Not a new favorite unfortunately. It would do well enough in a pinch, but there are so many other beers with a broader range of flavor, complexity and balance..

03-29-2009 00:04:09 | More by Beejay
Photo of BedetheVenerable


3.13/5  rDev -13.5%

Presentation: 12oz brown pop top, so-so label, no date

Appearance: Slightly hazy dark mahogany beer with a creamy ivory cap which shows decent retention and some nice lace

Smell: Nice mild, toasty malt and sweet, nutty character

Taste: Overly sweet, almost cloying, really. This shows a lot of warm nutty flavors, which is nice, but this is just too sweet, with a little odd, steely bitterness on the finish...this, combined with the sweetness, just doesn't really work

Mouthfeel: Fairly full, which makes the sweetness seem more intense

Drinkability: Medium at best

Conclusion: This has really nice aromas and appearance, but the flavor just falls a bit flat.

01-17-2010 20:58:04 | More by BedetheVenerable
Photo of kmpitz2


3.13/5  rDev -13.5%

Found this in Indianapolis last week. It pours a brownish amber color with a finger of head that falls to a patchy coating over top. Not quite the color I was expecting. The nose is not at all what I expected. I get notes of citrusy hops and very little roasted malts or nuttyness. Boo. Big boo. The flavor is the same. An odd slight citrusy hop over a very lightly roasted and caramel base. Overall lacking in character for a brown ale of any sorts. The feel is moderate with a moderate carbonation. I'm not very impressed with this brew. It lacks any characteristics of a brown ale. Just not a beer I will get again. Go for their Brass Knuckles.

06-26-2005 01:06:18 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of mntlover


3.15/5  rDev -13%

Pours a nice medium brown with amber hints. Lots of bubbles rising to a big fluffy tan head that falls slowly to a nice cap. Considering the nice head not much lacing left behind.

Aroma i nice toasted malts caramel light molasses mixed with nutty hints and some light fruitiness.

Taste is bursting with carbonation moving into caramel and molasses mingled with nuts. Finish is lingering nuts along with hops that are grassy in nature.

Mouthfeel is light medium but is sporting way too much carbonation. So much CO2 that it effects the taste of the beer for me making much lower then it could of been if mellowed.

Drinkability is not great due to excess CO2. Thanks go to merlin48 for this sample, a cool looking bottle anyway.

02-16-2007 20:14:29 | More by mntlover
Photo of ruckus232


3.15/5  rDev -13%

12 Ounce brown bottle poured into a stein

Appearance: Clear dark brown with really foamy off white head

Smell: Sweet smell that is just slightly on the toasted side. Not a very strong smell but still pretty good.

Taste: Gives the feeling of being slightly flat but the taste is slightly sweet and toasted.

08-29-2010 00:25:57 | More by ruckus232
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Dirty Helen Brown Ale from Barley Island Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 150 ratings.