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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.

147 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 147
Reviews: 80
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 11.88%
Wants: 4
Gots: 4 | 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
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Ratings: 147 | Reviews: 80 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Duster72


3.73/5  rDev +3%

4 oz serving from draft at breewpub. Pours a reddish brown with lovely ruby accents in the glass. Aroma is breads, nuts, and carmel malts. Nice aroma. Taste is on the lighter side for a brown with the typical dark malts and some earthy nuttiness. Mouthfeel is on the watery side which is offputting in this flavor profile. Overall a highly drinkable brown ale.

05-19-2007 22:55:11 | More by Duster72
Photo of beveritt


3.33/5  rDev -8%

Presentation: Arrived in a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Very little head on mine, less than 1/4 inch of ligth tan foam. Settled quickly into just a ring. Some lacing while drinking the glass. The beer itself is medium brown with a hint of red.

Smell: Light smell, semi-sweet malt with hints of caramel.

Taste: Semi-sweet malts, with earthy undertones. Medium hop bitterness in the finish. Slight roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is decent.

Drinkability: It is hard to go wrong with a craft beer on the deck when the weather starts to turn nice. Overall, a nice example of the style.

03-27-2007 17:11:16 | More by beveritt
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 BuckeyeNation


3.5/5  rDev -3.3%

Dark reddish bronze with scads of fine bubbles rushing up to a golden ecru head that is surprisingly small given the increasingly high-altitude pour. It lasts acceptably long though and is beginning to deposit a slurred collar of tissue paper thin lace.

The nose is better than average for the style. It's recognizably brown malty with a very mild earthiness and enough nuttiness for 'nut brown ale' to be an appropriate description (mine, not Barley Island's). It could stand to be more aromatic however.

I like the way Dirty Helen tastes, so it's a shame she isn't more flavorful. Maybe a few more degrees will help (note: not really). This is a mildly sweet, more so than bitter at least, brown ale that emphasizes chocolate malt and nuttiness above all else. Since that's my preferred blueprint for the style, I'm fine with it.

I can't believe that anyone who isn't a brown ale freak would find this beer to be overly impressive. Drinkability is probably its strongest suit, but there just isn't enough flavor to really make the drinker sit up and take notice. A 50% increase in the malt load would be a start and would probably cause a number of good things to follow.

The mouthfeel is a close call. Only my grudging aknowledgement that brown ales can be light and still be acceptable keeps me from granting the lower score, the one that I was initially poised to pick. I like the middle-of-the-road carbonation, so I guess that the above score is justifiable after all.

Dirty Helen was reportedly a brash, in your face kind of gal. Too bad the beer named in her honor doesn't share some of that spunkiness. Another decent Barley Island brew that carries with it some amount of wasted potential.

12-12-2006 15:16:34 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of nouseforotacon


4.3/5  rDev +18.8%

Much thanks to IndyBeer for this one, along with a whole bunch of other Barley Island brews.

Pours out a hazy-looking dark brown with shimmering hints of ruby red. Small tan head foam fades to lacing quickly, leaving a little film on top and a touch of foam around the edges.

Sweet, malty aroma that can probably be smelled from across the room. Hints of yeast, very powdery on the nose. Fragrant and pleasant. A touch fruity.

Strong nutty backbone in the flavor profile. Sourdough bread. Definite hazlenut. Subtle hints of malt sweetness, but by no means too much. A touch dry on the tongue, with a lingering hop bitterness and spiciness in the finish. Creamy mouthfeel with little carbonation and a medium body.

I've always enjoyed brown ales for sessions and casual drinking. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a sixer of this if it was available to me. Cheers!

11-05-2006 17:57:21 | More by nouseforotacon
Photo of merlin48


3.95/5  rDev +9.1%

12 oz bottle pours a clear, mahogany brown body with a one finger beige head. Excellent retention and some lavish sheet lacing make for an impressive appearance. Aroma is milk chocolate and hazelnut, with a note of grassy hops. Mouthfeel is light medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Taste mirroes the aroma, with a nutty chocolate maltiness that is balanced well with grassy hops bitterness. Smooth and clean. Very easy to drink. A nice session brown ale.

06-11-2006 12:35:34 | More by merlin48
Photo of EvilKeith


3.6/5  rDev -0.6%

Pours murky pale brown to dark amber in color. The head is a finger of thick camel colored foam. The lace is impressive and lines the glass.

The smell is rich with butterscotch, sweet caramel malts and faintly peppery.

The taste is much more bitter than expected for an English Brown Ale. The brewery refers to this one a Tavern Style Brown Ale.

It is a very good beer. It is highly drinkable, but if you are expecting a Samuel Smith's or Murphy's clone you will be disappointed.

Give it a try.

05-09-2006 22:40:12 | More by EvilKeith
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 nlmartin


3.18/5  rDev -12.2%

The beer was poured into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer poured a dark brown with ruby opaqueness to light. The head was the coloration of lightly creamed coffee. The head was two fingers high. There was no retention of the head.

Smell: The beer has a citrusy hoppyness. The beer has a light roasted malty quality.

Taste: The beer has an odd astringent citrus hoppyness upfront. This gives way to a lightly roasted caramel maltyness.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer has a thiner mouthfeel and taste than I prefer. This is an easy drinking brown ale. I think there are better brown ales available and I will not repeat this one.

04-17-2006 10:24:53 | More by nlmartin
Photo of goodbyeohio


3.4/5  rDev -6.1%

big ass bomber.. cool label and thanks to.. uhh.. patyoda? orbitalr0x? i forget. this has been in the DBF area forever.

pours beautifully, dark brown and thick with some red and orange highlights around the edges. nice creamy head reduces to a thin layer of egg foam. nice lacing. aroma carries creamy hazelnut along with sweet hoppiness and burnt sugars. great nose for a brown. flavor is very grassy, bordering on metallic. coppery. obviously a hop/malt combo that evokes more sourness than balance. something odd in the finish, almost meaty. this beer is very flavorful and has a nice mouthfeel and drinkability.. its just very muddled in its combination of flavors. i think libery with hops, in this case, works against the beer. for the rarity and the unavailability, i probably won't revisit. this would be a good beer to cook with.

although i will finish the bottle and won't hate it.

08-24-2005 14:15:27 | More by goodbyeohio
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 clvand0


3.58/5  rDev -1.1%

Pours an amber color with a small head that falls fast and leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma has some roasted and some chocolate with a little dirty hop. Just ok on the smell. The flavor has a little bit of nutty with hints of chocolate, but it's really weak. Good flavor. The mouthfeel is somewhat thin but the drinkability is good.

06-26-2005 01:03:52 | More by clvand0
Photo of rdailey76


3.55/5  rDev -1.9%

I have had this on tap from the brewery in the past, but chose to review of the sixer I picked up tonight. Pours a copperish amber color with very minimal head, maybe a bottle cap high. Really enjoyed the scents I was picking up. There was a definitive roasted grain scent with a twinge of sweetness. Enjoyed the initial mouthfeel and taste, but as it reaches the back of my mouth and am a little turned off by the lingering bitterness on my pallette. I bought six, which I am using 2 in a chili I am making, so I would expect that I could have a couple at a time. I will have to give it another try on tap when I head back for their excellent Oatmeal Stout.

10-01-2004 02:55:13 | More by rdailey76
Photo of baugherlager


4.2/5  rDev +16%

I just picked this up at a marsh supermarket in Noblesville.

It poured a dark brown color with some red. The head retention was okay in the first bottle but other bottles seemed different. I think that they didn't prime the bottles too consistantly. It left some lacing all the way down the glass.

The smell is definately very malty and smells as though it is a home brewed beer. Not very much hop in the nose but it is there. Fuggles maybe?

Its taste is of chocolate, very malty with a bitterness that follows the sweetness. Not too much on the nutty side but you can detect some if you let it warm in your mouth. This beer is very yeasty as well it had quite a bit of sediment which you would expect from a micro unfilter and unpasteurized beer. It had that homebrewed taste too.

Overall I liked this beer for the most part. I do think they could improve upon it a little though as it seems kind of ruff. The drinkability is amazing though I could drink alot of this stuff without getting sick of the taste, it went well with a meat and potatoes dinner, very refreshing.

09-23-2004 04:22:51 | More by baugherlager
Photo of Jason


3.73/5  rDev +3%

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

Appearance: Thin lacing with a troubled head retention, faint haze on the rusty brown brew.

Smell: Aleish fermentation is apparent with slight fruitiness and nutty yeast. A bit malty in the nose with faint chocolate and caramel notes.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Restrained crispness from a low carbonation and moderate body. Dry toasted malt character throughout, edging on chocolate here and there with a long lingering hop bitterness that sets the palate straight without pushing anything out of balance. A scratch of fruit and yeast in the back, finishes semi-sweet with a semi-rough toasted malt husk.

Notes: A tasty little brown ale, a tad rough around the edges and short on the carbonation. Any easy pick for a lunch time brew with a stacked pastrami on rye.

03-08-2004 01:28:42 | More by Jason
Photo of francisweizen


3.5/5  rDev -3.3%

This poured out of the bottle a dark brown colour with a big head of fluffy white foam. Aromas were straight forward and consisted of some nice malts, and subtle hops. The taste was just how I expected it to be. A bit chocolatey and caramelly with a nice maltiness up front, and a slight sweetness in the back. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and average, as was the drinkability.

02-20-2004 18:15:04 | More by francisweizen
Photo of Dogbrick


3.6/5  rDev -0.6%

From a sampler: This brew is a copper-brown color with a medium thin beige head. Malt and caramel in the nose. Medium bodied with a blend of malt, hops and caramel flavors. The finish is lightly bitter hops. This is an interesting take on a Brown Ale, as it isn't really even that brown. Cool name too.

01-16-2004 15:02:43 | More by Dogbrick
Photo of Gusler


3.5/5  rDev -3.3%

As it sets in the glass an unblurred mahogany color, the head is modest in size, frothy in its texture and a winsome light tan in color as it vanishes quite quickly a patchy sheet of rather thick lace remains to protect the glass. Sweet malt is dominate, crisp fresh and clean with a vanilla and nut like tones also present, begins malt sweet with the top light to medium in feel. Finish has a mild carbonation, hops unassuming in their spiciness, dry and lingering aftertaste, also noticed a bit of burnt grain in the aftertaste, a drinkable beer, and I’d like to thank “Qarre” and BIF 3.0 for this sample. Interesting name must look up and see what history lies behind that name, always a point of interest with me.

11-17-2003 00:16:27 | More by Gusler
Photo of Indybeer


3.85/5  rDev +6.4%

12 zo bottle. Poured a hazy red/orange color witha descent head that didn't stick around long but left some lacing on the glass. Aroma of malt and hops. Taste is again Malt and hops, you'd think this was a pale ale from all the hops. Weak carbonation, and a watery thin mouthfeel. Still all in all a pretty good tasting beer. I wouldn't pass on this if offered again.

08-07-2003 12:58:59 | More by Indybeer
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 Viking


3.85/5  rDev +6.4%

Pours a slightly hazy orange-copper. Not much visible CO2 in the body. Initially a solid cream-colored head, about two fingers thick. Head leaves thick covering of lace atop the beer, and some rather thick trails of lace on the glass. Malty aroma, sort of a biscuity caramel, with plenty of herbal/grassy hop notes. Flavor is fairly light. Malt flavor is initially rather subdued while a bigger-than-expected-hop-presence leaps forward on the palate and lingers in the aftertaste. Malt begins to come out as the beer warms. Bready initially, but more and more caramel became apparent during the beer's short stay in my glass. Light-bodied brew, but very smooth and oily. Very drinkable session beer.

03-30-2003 11:25:59 | More by Viking
Photo of zerk


3.98/5  rDev +9.9%

Pours a clear light brown, with a hint of amber. A thin cream-colored head sits atop the beer, but doesn't leave any lace. The aroma is quite impressive, with quite a bit of biscuity malt, some caramel and herbal notes. Flavor begins quite malty... not very sweet, more of a bread-like flavor, with some notes of caramel. Finish is pretty bitter for the style, with a grassy hop characteristic. Has a thin to medium body, and medium carbonation. Although it's probably somewhat thin for the style, I think that actually improved the drinkability of this beer.

This is Barley Island's first bottled beer. I'm looking forward to seeing more from this brewery, as this is a most promising start!

03-28-2003 08:16:48 | More by zerk
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Dirty Helen Brown Ale from Barley Island Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 147 ratings.